Reflections and visions from a new president

Published 8:42 am Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Recently an article from retiring President Doug Boyce (“Reflecting on years as PDCCC president,” Friday, July 2) appeared in this column. It was inspirational to read of the accomplishments of Paul D. Camp Community College over the last 7½ years.

Of course, these accomplishments are only possible with great teamwork from the campus community — both internal and external contributors. Everyone should take great pride in the part they played.

I have only been in my new role for a few days, yet have been encouraged by people I meet and talk to about PDCCC. There is a campus spirit that is refreshing to be a part of; it exists on the Franklin and Suffolk campuses alike, as well as the center in Smithfield.

I look forward to spending time and getting to know each of these communities.

I will soon embark on what is often termed a “listening tour.” I will want to engage all employees and community constituents to voice what they think are the great things about the college. I will delight in hearing about the successes, the stories, the struggles and the celebrations that make it strong and cherished.

The college was founded in 1970 and has touched many lives over the years — including students, alumni, parents, employees and employers, and so many others. It would be hard to find anyone in our service region who has not been touched directly or indirectly by the work of our community college, but I will also want to hear about what can be improved. We need to be sure we face the tough challenges and look well into the future on how we can best serve. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, “It’s not about where you are that’s important; it’s about what direction you are headed.”

We want collectively to be sure that PDCCC is headed in the right direction.

PDCCC is one of 23 community colleges in the Virginia Community College System. This collective system is directed by a strategic plan titled “Achieve 2015.” Each college must evaluate how it can accomplish these shared goals. However, as stated on the VCCS website, “Achieve 2015 is focused on the needs of the communities we serve, not the needs of our community colleges.” The VCCS Achieve 2015 Plan consists of the following major goals:


Increase the number of individuals who are educated and trained by Virginia’s Community Colleges by 50,000 to a total of 423,000, with emphasis on increasing the number from underserved populations by at least 25,000 individuals.


Maintain tuition and fees at less than half of the comparable cost of attending Virginia’s public four-year institutions, and increase the number of students who receive financial assistance and scholarships by 36,000.

Student Success

Increase the number of students graduating, transferring or completing a workforce credential by 50 percent, including increasing the success of students from underserved populations by 75 percent.


Double the number of employer provided training and services to 10,000, with a particular focus on high-demand occupational fields.


Raise at least $550 million in gifts and grants to support the mission of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

So how can PDCCC contribute to accomplishing these goals over the next several years? Is our college’s mission “to provide diverse learning opportunities to enhance the quality of life for students and the community” being thoroughly accomplished?

That is what this listening tour will be about. Through consensus and analysis, we will establish visions, share goals, set priorities and articulate values that we all agree are important.

We all know the economy continues to be a challenge, the state budget continues to provide fewer resources and PDCCC student enrollment is increasing. Yet we cannot simply resign ourselves to continue “doing more with less.” We have to be wiser than that. The Virginia Community College System has established a task force looking at “re-engineering” — doing things differently. This includes in many cases allowing technology to enable us to be more efficient.

We have seen some of that already — we no longer publish expensive catalogs, but have our catalog accessible through the college website.

We no longer print and mail grades at the end of every semester, but allow the students to receive grades through logging-on to the Student Information System. We will continue to see more of this type of change.

So hopefully you might attend a “listening tour” session, talk to me directly, or submit a suggestion to the email We all want PDCCC going in the right direction and serving the community wisely.

We are and continue to be the “community’s college.” I am pleased and proud to be a part of PDCCC and its dedicated faculty and staff and look forward to working together to serve students, businesses, and our communities.