TO: All VCCS Employees
FROM: Glenn DuBois
DATE: May 29, 2012
RE: Reengineering workgroups continue; new textbook workgroup formed

Dear colleague:

I hope that your summer is off to a great start after the holiday weekend!

Though my town hall meetings are finished for the academic year, the VCCS Reengineering workgroups continue their efforts.

You can track them, and interact with them, through our dedicated website www.rethink.vccs.edu.  We are dedicated to making this process as transparent and inclusive as possible. Your contributions have played a key role in the success of this work and we want to hear from you moving forward.

Community Colleges Still Misunderstood

Our community colleges served more than 400,000 people this past year – and did a good job of serving them. We seek improvements in our work. We strive to help even more people and, through the completion of a credential or a successful transfer, help them find greater individual success.

Make no mistake about it; our community colleges are a success story.

Critics abound however. Some of them simply don’t understand our mission or the scope of our work. Others, perhaps, harbor hidden agendas.

That’s why I was delighted to see a thoughtful and well-articulated response from some of our faculty members to a misguided swipe at our institutions. You can read their opinion piece, published in the Fredericksburg newspaper, by clicking here.

[Germanna Community College] students gained important knowledge and skills, earned transferable credits, and are moving toward productive careers, all for a fraction of the cost of similar coursework at a university. We take pride in helping them on their way, and we count all of them as successes, not just those who completed associate degrees.

My compliments to Lisa Murphy and Russell Carter on their response!

Rethinking “Book Smart”

A new reengineering workgroup is beginning.

Its charge is to examine what can be done to reduce the staggering costs of textbooks facing our students:

Over the last decade, the average cost of college textbooks has risen at four times the rate of inflation. For the 2011-2012 academic year, college students at a four year university will spend an average of over $1000 on books and supplies.  For the average community college student, the cost of books can add up to about 72% of their college tuition. As many as seven in ten college students have reported that they avoided buying at least one textbook for class as a result of the exorbitant cost, often as high as $200 per book. Students who purchase their assigned textbooks must often sacrifice other needed expenses to pay for them, or else add to their student debt.

Many of us had hoped that technology would bring down the costs of these textbooks; we hoped the proliferation of tablet computers would do to books what mp3 files and mp3 players did to music. It can still happen and we should help it along.

State Board approves 2012-2013 tuition

At its May meeting, the State Board for Community Colleges unanimously approved the tuition policy for the coming academic year. You can learn more about it by reading this news release.

As you can see by the chart below, Virginia’s Community Colleges are keeping the promise articulated in our six-year strategic plan, Achieve 2015, to keep mandatory tuition and fees at less than half of the comparable costs of attending a public university in Virginia.

A Sampling of Updates

There are more than two dozen reengineering task force work groups now at work. You can track the progress of every single one of them through the dashboard at www.rethink.vccs.edu.

Here are updates on just a few of the issues I am often asked about during my campus visits. (The numbers contained in the parentheses correspond to the workgroup numbers on the dashboard.)

(2.) Implement Developmental Education Task Force Redesign Proposal (Math)
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic. 

As of early May, 2012, visits to all 23 colleges by the Developmental Mathematics Implementation Support Team (DMIST) have been completed. Reports are being compiled to send to presidents. Emerging themes and action items will be compiled. Thanks are extended to faculty who participated on the DMIST team and to colleges for hosting the visits. Making these visits early in the implementation of developmental mathematics redesign was an unparalleled opportunity.

(17.) Improve Learning Outcomes and Reduce Student and College Costs
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic. 

The Articulate Learning Outcomes (ALO) Steering Group has issued a request for proposals (RFP) to all VCCS psychology faculty for $5,000 Pilot Team Grants to develop model PSY 200 courses in on-campus, hybrid, and online formats that faculty at other colleges may, but are not required to, adopt or adapt. The application deadline is June 1, 2012.  The PSY 200 Articulate Learning Outcomes Curriculum Committee has completed or is working on the following activities:

  • Solicited input from full and part-time psychology faculty through email, Blackboard, and at the New Horizons Conference.
  • Discussed faculty comments to assist the revision of the second draft of learning outcomes and the first draft of the assessment plan.
  • Reviewed VCCS data to inform deliberations about course prerequisites.
  • Set a goal to finalize the learning outcomes and use faculty feedback to revise the assessment guidelines at its May 4 meeting.

Awards of $5,000 to four PSY 200 Pilot Teams will be made by July 16. Pilot Teams will develop their courses in Fall 2012 and test them in Spring 2013.

(6.) Pilot Shared Services Distance Learning Systems
Click here to keep up with the latest work being done on this topic. 

Presentations by a team of representatives from several reengineering efforts, including the Shared Services Distance Learning (SSDL) initiative, were given to the Virginia Mathematics Association of Two Year Colleges and at the Emergency Medical Services peer group conference. Although May is busy with graduation plans, it is also the start of the summer semester. The SSDL project currently has a summer enrollment of 245 students in 82 courses that are participating from eight partner colleges. Data is being aggregated on student success, access, and productivity for an upcoming report.

Stay Engaged

These are, again, just a few of the updates available to you on the dashboard at the rethink website.

Should you have comments or questions that are specific to the efforts of an individual workgroup, I would encourage you to email the leads of those groups. The names and email addresses of the leads are included for your convenience on the individual workgroup pages.

Of course, please feel free to send me any thoughts related to the reengineering process at rethink@vccs.edu. I look forward to reading those emails personally and passing them along to the taskforce.

Sincerely,

Glenn DuBois
Chancellor 

Check out the latest on Virginia’s Community Colleges.

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