Strategic planning

Published 10:19 am Wednesday, July 3, 2013

by Dr. Paul Conco

Recently, Paul D. Camp Community College held a series of strategic planning meetings throughout our service region (Franklin, Southampton, Isle of Wight County, and Southampton County) to gather insights on the future vision for the college. Our goal was to create a vision for the college to carry us for the next three to five years. We are the “community’s college” and as such, we want to understand and hear how our citizens feel about the college and the services we offer.

Initially, we held sessions internally with our faculty, staff and students. After gathering their input, five feedback sessions were held with college stakeholders. The first two sessions were with the local college board and the Paul D. Camp Community College Foundation Board of Directors. Sessions were then held at the Paul D. Camp Hobbs Suffolk Campus, the Franklin Campus, and the Smithfield Center with representatives from the business, academic, government, religious and arts communities. Individuals attending these sessions were asked about the changes that they see unfolding in their communities. They were then asked what they need and expect from the college. Finally, they were invited to provide their perspectives on the college’s strengths, areas for improvement, opportunities and threats.

The participation and the feedback were tremendous!

What We Learned

Many of the observations were consistent with anecdotal feedback we had been receiving. One overarching comment was in the area of marketing and “telling our story.” There was consensus among all involved that the college should do more marketing to reach a broader audience in the community it serves. There also was broad agreement that communicating the financial advantage of attending a community college would attract more people to Paul D. Camp Community College. In general, it was felt that a strong and expanded marketing program would enable the college to attract more students and better serve our community, citizen’s educational needs and our business community. From this feedback I am pleased to share that we have begun building an aggressive campaign to improve our marketing and recruitment efforts.

We also received communication regarding expanding opportunities for students to become employed through certificate based programming. Specific ideas presented included technology training for businesses, additional health care programs, such as physical therapy assistant and practical nurse programs, adult education programs, classes to recertify educators and law enforcement. There also was consensus that more vocational programs and a greater emphasis on skilled trades should be stressed. Even before the strategic planning process was completed, we’ve been placing more resources in this critically important area.

We also heard something that was truly inspiring. One of the most consistently referenced items was the feeling of pride that the community has for Paul D. Camp Community College. Most constituents we talked with understand the important role that the College has in providing educational opportunities through the western Hampton Roads region. The College is seen as welcoming, family-oriented and affordable. It is viewed as flexible and able to quickly meet a variety of constituents’ needs. In addition, the college is seen as an organization that strives to align its curriculum with the needs of the community. Contributing to the positive reputation are the college’s dedicated faculty, experienced staff, and energetic leadership team, which were viewed as significant strengths for the college.

There were many positive comments about the college’s recent successes in fund raising and acquiring grants. These funds will create many opportunities to improve the college’s service to the community, meet employers’ needs and increase their professional staffing. Recent grants and donations have increased our scholarships to students, allowed important renovations to our facilities, established our new Career Development Center, allowed us to increase programs in such areas as practical nursing, pharmacy technician, robotics, and other new technologies and trades. You can see the full array of our recent plans and upcoming strategic planning results on our website at this link: I encourage you to visit the site and review the analysis. Let us know what you think or if you have other thoughts to share.

Next Steps

I will soon be meeting with the leadership teams of the college as well as the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System to review and assess the findings. We will prioritize key items and work to develop cohesive action plans to achieve success in the areas identified.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all those who contributed their feedback to this important process. We are so grateful for the input, conversations, survey responses, advice, wisdom and extensive guidance shared through the strategic planning sessions. It is through your active engagement that we continue to improve and deliver our Paul D. Camp Community College mission — to provide diverse learning opportunities to enhance the quality of life for students and the community. Thank you again for your support of your Community College.

Dr. Paul Wm. Conco is President of Paul D. Camp Community College. His email address is