On September 26, Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the Virginia Community College System (VCCS), visited Rappahannock Community College as part of his “Listening Tour” of the 23 VCCS colleges. The purpose of the tour is to learn about each college’s progress in creating a clear action plan for enhancing the student experience and increasing student success. At every stop, one best-practice program or initiative that improves student success outcomes as they relate to an academic program, student service, workforce development initiative, college business practice, or technology innovation has been presented.
RCC’s presentation, “SOAR for Student Success,” highlighted the college’s decision to change the look of both its main printed publication and its website, based on recommendations from the VCCS Student Success Institute meetings as well as internal focus group and analytical data collected from RCC students. The ultimate goal of these redesign efforts was simplification — the college wanted to provide students with information that directly answered the question, “Why RCC?”
The printed schedule of previous years became SOAR magazine, which featured a more visual style, many student success stories, and an overview of the academic and career pathways offered by RCC. The magazine directs students to the redesigned website, which features clearer informational content and more photos to create a connection with visitors. The new magazine and website have been well received by RCC students; these communication media will continue to evolve as the college receives feedback from the students and community it serves.
The presentation included a question-and-answer session addressing the educational and resource challenges facing RCC’s service area. A discussion of barriers to student success was led by the VCCS’s vice chancellor for academic services and research, Dr. Sharon Morrissey, and Shauna Davis, executive director of the VCCS Student Success Center. The audience was composed of RCC administrators, faculty, staff, and students.
Chancellor DuBois concluded the event by presenting his vision of how the community college system must provide students with well-marked routes to success via degree and non-degree programs. It is the system’s mission, he said, to help provide not just college courses, but a pathway to a marketable career.
Though the Listening Tour ends in December, all 23 community colleges will have the opportunity to re-stage their “best practice” presentations at the New Horizons Excellence in Education Awards competition in the spring of 2017.