TO: All VCCS employees FROM: Glenn DuBois DATE: June 9, 2010 RE: An update on the VCCS Reengineering efforts Dear colleague, I hope your summer is off to a terrific start! Congratulations on the conclusion of a record-breaking year for Virginia’s Community Colleges. We’ve recently released our annual enrollment numbers which garnered a great deal of media attention across the commonwealth. The bottom line is that we served a record 364,591 people in academic and non-credit classes. That’s great news for Virginia! I am writing to share some of what’s happening with the VCCS Reengineering Taskforce. I appreciate the emails that you and your colleagues are sending to me with impressions and ideas for this process. I am struck by the thoughtfulness and passion that comes through in your messages and I am passing along every email to the taskforce. The VCCS reengineering website, once again, can be found at http://rethink2.wpengine.com. You can also link to it from the homepage of the VCCS website. Guiding principles of reengineering Many of you have asked what principles are guiding the committee that is leading the reengineering effort. After all, the entirety of our enterprise – when you consider all 23 community colleges, the thousands of programs they offer and the hundreds of thousands of people they serve – can be intimidating. So, I wanted to share with you the “ground rules,” if you will, for how the committee is operating: The challenge that the VCCS Reengineering Task Force was created to address is vast. To ensure that tangible results are produced in a timely manner, the task force will operate under the following guiding principles:

  1. The recommendations of the task force should not be change for just the sake of change, nor allow the sentiment of tradition to prevent rethinking the way Virginia’s Community Colleges operate.
  2. The recommendations of the task force should lead to substantial gains in learning outcomes, in alignment with the strategic goals of Achieve 2015.
  3. The recommendations of the task force should lead to better fiscal balance for Virginia’s Community Colleges, reducing operating expenses and maximizing revenues wherever appropriate.
  4. The recommendations of the task force should represent the shared responsibility of all Virginia Community College stakeholders – with no single entity or group bearing a grossly disproportionate burden.
  5. The recommendations of the task force should be sustainable, scalable, and success-inducing for each of Virginia’s Community Colleges regardless of a college’s size and location.
  6. The recommendations of the task force shall honor the current governance structure of Virginia’s Community Colleges while protecting the community responsiveness of individual community colleges.

Reengineering Q&A I received a number of emails from our colleagues saying how much they appreciated the questions and answers from my last message, so let’s look into the mailbag once again. I would never show up late to this instructor’s class. “One constant thorn in my side is late registration,” writes an instructor from Northern Virginia Community College. “I think it should be abolished and consigned to Hades. Late registration mocks academic excellence; it encourages procrastination; it disrupts instruction; and it creates chaos in division offices.” I see your point and from what I have seen students who register late are less likely to succeed. Are you two talking? An employee from Thomas Nelson Community College wrote to ask if there had been any consideration for, “The creation of a 24th branch of the VCCS…A dedicated, focused centralized Distance Learning arm [that] would effectively serve our students.” An hour later on the same day an employee from Germanna Community College wrote in wondering that “Perhaps it’s time to think about a 24th institution – the Virtual VCCS Campus – serving as the conduit for offering distance education classes for the VCCS. Such an approach might improve the overall quality and consistency of distance education offerings.” This shared idea is interesting. It represents exactly the kind of question that our taskforce should be and is exploring. Considering that geography means little to nothing when it comes to online classes, perhaps there is a way to simultaneously enhance and streamline our virtual offerings. Our developmental education must and will improve. “I would be interested to know,” writes an employee from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, “if there are future opportunities to align placement tests scores and corresponding placement in developmental coursework for English writing, reading and mathematics?” While the Re-engineering Taskforce is taking a broad view of our operations, there is another taskforce that is currently wrapping up their recommendations for how we handle developmental mathematics. Their recommendations are game-changing and hold, I think, a lot of promise. Soon, another panel will be tackling the challenge of developmental writing and reading. I am excited about the work I have seen from the taskforce on developmental mathematics overhaul and hold hope for a similar revolution in how we offer developmental reading and writing. We are moving away from broad-based assessments and moving toward a model of individualized diagnostic strategies that pinpoint areas for remediation. You’re right. Not everyone learned about the home row in home room. An instructor from John Tyler Community College thinks we should test incoming students for typing skills. “Although today kids are learning to keyboard in elementary, junior and high school, older returning students do not know how to keyboard or type. Given the computer age that we live in, this is a critical step for success.” While I would imagine it’s hard to hunt-and-peck your way through a postsecondary program today, I wonder with the growing popularity of the iPad and similar devices if today’s standard keyboard will be around in a decade. Similarly, touch screen technology seems to be threatening the existence of the computer mouse. I also wonder if people simply get better with practice – I did and I am pretty fast with the four or five fingers that I use though I would not recommend my style to others. Our standards should be high and the quality of our instruction even higher. A number of you wrote in to comment on my answer to the instructor who questioned the need to produce more college graduates. Practically all of you were supportive of the need to convince more people to pursue and complete a postsecondary program, but a few were worried about maintaining our standards. “We need to make sure that the graduates that we do turn out have, in fact, demonstrated the mastery of their chosen major of study, and that we do not turn our community colleges into “diploma factories,” wrote an instructor from Tidewater Community College. When I think of the nurses that we graduate who could someday be treating my child in an emergency room; when I think about the welders we graduate who are building the biggest aircraft carriers in the world; when I think about that truck driver we graduated who is behind me on the road transporting a ton of freight at 70 mph, I couldn’t agree more. Our mission is one of service. We serve individuals by imparting in them the knowledge and skills to succeed. We serve employers and the larger community by ensuring the workforce can compete globally. Meeting high academic standards is the only way we succeed. I will

continue to email you throughout the process to ensure that you understand the needs behind this work. And I invite you to email me with thoughts or questions you may have about it. The email address for that (an email address that comes directly to me) is rethink@vccs.edu. I will pass along interesting thoughts to the appropriate taskforce members and may even discuss them with you and our colleagues in a future email message. Thank you for your ideas and thoughts for this process and thank you for your hard work every day at your community college. Sincerely, Signature Glenn DuBois

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