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Major Renovations Underway at RCC

New and returning students at the Glenns and Warsaw campuses of Rappahannock Community College can see that big changes are well underway, with many areas of the buildings on both campuses temporarily closed off and the busy sounds of construction heard from behind the makeshift barriers. The planned renovations are scheduled for completion in August 2011. While the buildings’ exterior “footprints” will be the same, their interior functionality, eye appeal, and comfort, as well as space configuration, will be much improved, more than repaying the time and effort that is being expended.

Rendering - RCC Main Hallway

Rendering - RCC Main Hallway

RCC recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and this major renovation is the first it has ever undergone. The first phase of construction will upgrade the college’s gathering places, accommodating the needs of students by making common areas, hallways, and lecture halls more efficient, accessible, and inviting. This phase is projected to be complete by January 2011, in time for the upcoming spring semester. The second phase will make improvements to the health and science labs and classroom spaces, and will include more advanced computer simulation technology. All of these renovations—$11 million worth—have already been paid for as part of the state bond referendum in 2005.

Due to the construction, Fall 2010 enrollment and orientation activities were held in outdoor hospitality tents, where college staff including President Elizabeth Crowther, her executive committee, counselors, and faculty welcomed enrollees and helped them to navigate around the off-limits areas and get to their classrooms. Record numbers of students found that, in spite of the current physical inconveniences, RCC’s curricular offerings and service are better than ever.

For Fall 2010, RCC offers two new associate degrees. The Associate of Arts and Sciences (AA&S) transfer degree with Business Administration specialization is designed for students planning to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete a bachelor’s degree in a business-related field such as Business Administration or Accounting. “It provides a level of accounting and economics training beyond what students are taking in the Associate in Applied Science (AAS) Business Management program,” says Dr. Crowther. An AAS degree in Emergency Medical Services/Paramedic, offered through a partnership with Northern Virginia Community College, is also on the list of new curricula this fall, as are six new career studies certificates: Historic Preservation, Human Services, Legal Assisting, Millwright Technology, Phlebotomy, and Web Design.

Mark Beaver and Elizabeth "Sissy" Crowther

Mark Beaver and Elizabeth "Sissy" Crowther

Prospective students can find the requirements for these curricula and many others at the college’s website (www.rappahannock.edu) which has recently been redesigned to be more dynamic, user-friendly, and appealing to students. In addition, RCC career coaches at local high schools help guidance counselors by working directly with students, both individually and in groups, to provide information on career awareness, career assessment, career development, and academic/career progression.

The Virginia Community College System (VCCS) Education Wizard, with a link at RCC’s website, also allows students to make direct online comparisons between community college offerings and those of four-year colleges. The site directs users toward the educational programs that align with their goals: job credentials, an associate degree, or guaranteed transfer to a four-year institution. As users select their career and curriculum, the Wizard builds a schedule, and prompts them by e-mail on dates when action is needed.

RCC’s May 2010 Commencement ceremony honored 294 graduates, who earned 431 degrees and certificates among them—a substantial increase over the 265 graduates and 289 degrees and certificates of the previous year. RCC continues to grow by leaps and bounds: Summer 2010 enrollment was 29 percent greater than that of the previous summer (the largest increase for the period among the 23 VCCS colleges, except for Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin, which owes a huge jump in enrollment to layoffs from the city’s paper mill), and Fall 2010 enrollment is currently estimated at 10 to 15 percent higher than Fall 2009.

The current economic situation is a major factor in these increases, as area residents turn to RCC for the affordable education and career training that they need to make themselves more employable. Also, the word is getting out that college-bound high school graduates can come to RCC for two years, then transfer their credits to a wide selection of fine four-year colleges (many of which maintain Guaranteed Admission Agreements with RCC) with no loss in the quality of their education. VCCS statistics for Fall 2009 show that the number of RCC area residents enrolling at RCC was greater than those enrolling at all four-year colleges combined, and almost three times the number enrolling at other VCCS institutions.

A testimony to the value the community sees in the college is the widespread support that pushed RCC’s Educational Foundation (RCC/EFI) past the $3 million goal of its two-year-long “Soaring Together” major gifts campaign. The successful effort raised $626,585 for future building expansion and $2,109,721 toward a new permanently endowed general scholarship fund, plus more than $200,000 in new unrestricted funds. All told, RCC/EFI increased its total assets to more than $5 million. Dean of college advancement Victor Clough reports that the Foundation’s sixth annual Preakness Party was also a great success, clearing more than $50,000. “For the first time,” he says, “we sold out all of the tickets in advance and had a waiting list for the event.” With this abundance of scholarship opportunities, Clough emphasizes, “If anyone in our service region wants to attend college, we can help them find a way to make it happen.” In addition to funding scholarship awards, the Foundation supports college programs and initiatives, as well as professional development activities for RCC faculty and staff members.

The excellent Workforce Development Centers on both campuses contribute to RCC’s success in the community. Recent accomplishments of the Workforce Development Office have been the training programs it created for Canon Virginia, Inc. (which recognized RCC’s contribution with its prestigious Vendor of the Year award) and Potomac Mills. The week-long Educational Consortium in July 2010 (an annual event) provided professional development opportunities to over 800 school system employees throughout RCC’s service area. Currently the Workforce Development Office is working with the Mathews Maritime Museum to establish a Marine Trades educational center.

The Workforce Development Office also administers an adult education program which already covers many of the counties in RCC’s service region, and will soon, it is anticipated, be expanded into all of them. Middle College, another Workforce program, allows 18-to-24-year-olds who did not complete high school to earn either a diploma or a GED; these students also leave the program with a Career Readiness Certificate (a WorkKeys credential) that assures employers of their ability and readiness to adapt to a new job and be productive workers.

Finally, RCC prides itself on active involvement in “Green” initiatives. A 15-year contract with TAC Energy Solutions to survey all college buildings and optimize energy use on a large scale “pays for itself,” college officials say. Also, RCC has received a grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation to build a storm water retention center. This is expected to decrease erosion, prevent flooding, and keep pollutants out of the water supply, thereby contributing to public health, safety and welfare.

2 Responses to “Major Renovations Underway at RCC”

  1. Maureen Murphy says:

    What wonderful news! The renderings for the main entrance look great. Students will feel even more welcome at RCC.

    Keep up the good work!

  2. Shardae says:

    THANK U I WILL

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