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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Free Vs. Focused? The Conversation Continues


President Obama’s proposal to provide up to $3,800 of free tuition at community colleges has received wide-ranging consideration. From editorials in publications like our own Rome Sentinel, to Op-Eds by Tom Hanks and others in the New York Times, the proposal has grabbed a fair amount of attention in the past two weeks.

Hanks wrote a wonderful piece about his community college days at Chabot College.  The thousands of responses from community college alumni have been inspiring to read for all of us who work in community colleges throughout the country. We see the financial challenges of our students every day, as they try to overcome financial hurdles and secure a college credential in pursuit of a better life.

From the student loan debt figures to the individual stories of college students today, the need for bold proposals and new thinking is easily justified. Consideration should be given to the reality that free public education through high school served as a catalyst to transform this nation from an agricultural society to a modern industrial one and likewise, the bar must be raised through an additional two years of public education to fully move us into the information age that continues to rapidly transform our society.

However, the recent editorials, media coverage, and responses are informing an increasingly nuanced view of the President’s proposal. Countless research studies show that human beings try harder and perform better when we have some skin in the game compared to the potential complacency that comes when something is free. With 80% of community college students nationwide working full or part time while enrolled, many would argue just managing their busy lives is “skin in the game” enough to warrant this expansion of public education.

The dialogue on this proposal should not focus solely on tuition, given that it’s covered for the neediest students through current federal and state financial aid programs.  Conversation is needed to go beyond student access to include attention to student completion. More direct research on student completion demonstrates the importance of grit and motivation (Tough, 2012) as well as attachment and involvement (Astin, 1999) for students to actually graduate. The President’s proposal is a big idea that has many sides to it – it should be just the beginning. What should the parameters really be? What should we mean by “responsible students” who would be eligible? All of this should be discussed, debated, and decided.

Unfortunately, the largest issue of all is the lack of productive dialogue in Washington. The proposal was rolled out with all the trappings of a “too good to be true” late night television commercial that prompted criticisms of this administration, calling this extension of public education a free entitlement. Rather than all parties recognizing the need, affirming the realities, and refining the idea together in order to help our society move forward, political gridlock rules the day!

It’s a shame that the needs of students and employers alike are trampled under the dysfunction of this country’s modern-day politics. For our part, community colleges will continue to do what we’ve always done—navigate the winds of change to produce the best possible outcomes for our students and local economies.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Big Idea for a Big Problem

President Obama’s recent proposal to provide a free community college education to responsible students is a big idea. Like most transformative notions, time is needed to consider all the implications, but at a conceptual level the proposal is brilliant.

The notion of a free education through the first two years of community college holds the possibility of greatly accelerating the capacity of a trained workforce in this country. With better trained employees and better educated citizens, our employers and our society would greatly benefit – the economy would expand and perhaps the ever-expanding wealth gap might even begin to diminish. Because the concept is bold, it will most certainly prompt an important and necessary discussion on national priorities and values. We can have the highest skilled workforce in the world, but if our infrastructure is so poor that goods can’t be transported across modern transportation systems, those skilled employees are working in vain. We can be the most educated nation in the world, but if we have a national debt that cripples the economy, it won’t matter as much as it would otherwise. Yet President Obama’s proposal warrants great consideration and continued conversation.

Our country is founded on the rights of the individual and requires an educated citizenry to continue advancing the democratic principles of our republic and maintaining our economic vitality. President Obama provides a very relevant reference to the catalytic role that free public high school education played in the early 20th century toward powering tremendous growth and prosperity in America. It follows then that as society and the modern workplace become more complex and advanced, the public support for postsecondary education should increase accordingly for the 21st century.

It’s ironic that despite our country’s faith in the individual, our society too often adopts a “one size fits all” mentality. Despite nearly half of all college undergraduate students in America attending community colleges, the general expectation is that high school graduates should ideally go to four-year colleges or universities regardless of their interests or level of preparedness. Anything otherwise is considered an unfortunate deviation from societal expectations. This is a narrow understanding of success that has significant negative consequences. This proposal recognizes that we are all different and that we need options when it comes to education.

Community college admissions offices are the frontline of this societal disconnect where students of all ages try to plan a path to a better life. Too many 20-year-olds who were good students in high school but weren’t ready to leave home arrive at the door with $60,000 in debt, looking to put their lives back together after flunking out of a private college with astronomical tuition. Too many returning adults over 25 who couldn’t afford college arrive looking for a better life beyond hopping from one unskilled job to the next to support their family. The financial wreckage of our higher education system is most powerfully magnified by the fact that total student loan debt in this country (more than $1.2 trillion) now easily outpaces total credit card debt. It is seen by many to be the next economic bubble set to pop. In a country that prides itself on individual advancement, we made the critical catalyst – a college education – out of reach for far too many. Similar to our healthcare system, our higher education system is broken and needs to be fixed. Small tweaks aren’t going to cut it. Like anything that is broken, our higher education system needs to be reset.

Some may say the proposed $9 billion annual price tag is outrageous. However, we fought two wars recently in Iraq and Afghanistan with the expenditures justified as necessary to strengthen the resolve and secure the future of this country. Over the course of 11 years (roughly 4,000 days), we spent $1.497 trillion dollars ($372,851,806 daily) – about $9 billion every 24 days for 11 years. Providing a free community college education to American citizens will certainly strengthen the resolve and secure the future of our country as well, because more Americans will be armed with the knowledge and skills they need to meet the demands of our growing global economy.

The 25% financial obligation on the states requires a legislative deep breath to be sure, as few states have that kind of money visibly available in their budgets. However, just like our household budgets, with the right vision and planning, decisions can be made to support the family as needs change. It’s a matter of will and difficult choices, civil discourse, a willingness to compromise, and the establishment of shared priorities to make it happen.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Why Do White People Tan?

A simple question changed my life forever. When I was a Resident Director in Mary Markley Hall at the University of Michigan, one of my Resident Assistants – an African-American woman named Angela – and I were part of a small group of residence life staff who got together every few weeks to ask each other unfiltered questions about our differences. No two of us were alike, and we came together as a kaleidoscope of racial, ethnic, religious, socioeconomic, and gender combinations.  It was the peak of the first wave of political correctness where none of us knew what to call each other in a new and emerging hyphenated social reality. 

One evening, Angela called me out to answer her question – “If white people have issues with some people because of dark skin color, then why do white people tan?” Wow – her question shocked me. It took me a long moment to respond, “I don’t know Angela, I really don’t tan because I just burn. Besides, how can you expect me to answer a question for all white people?” She quickly cut back – “Randy, do you know how many times EVERY DAY I’m asked to speak on behalf of all black people?”

The depth of her simple and clear statement set me on a course for a lifelong journey to understand race, diversity, stereotypes and intercultural relations. Like our society, I still have a long way to go.

Ferguson

The death of Michael Brown is the latest amplification of the racial tensions in our country. Diversity is what makes us who we are as a nation – like no other in the world. However, what happened in Ferguson is complex, yet it would be easier with simple answers that don’t require us to think too much about it. This is one piece of a much larger and tragic pattern that is not easily understood, even though evidence of the pattern is seen all around us.

History Worth Learning

A number of years ago, a colleague of mine named Cynthia and I were talking about music. Growing up so close to Flint and Detroit, my preferences tend to be more R&B with an appreciation for Motown and good stuff from the ’70s like the GAP Band.  Cynthia asked me if I knew what GAP stood for in the band’s name – I had no idea.  She went on to tell me to look up “Greenwood Archer and Pine Tulsa” (GAP) and learn about the race riot of 1921. When I read about the success of the thriving community called “Black America’s Wall Street” and how it was burned to the ground overnight, it had a profound effect on me. How did I get through high school, college, and graduate school and never hear of such a thing? Why did I love history and learn so much about the wars and presidents of our country, yet something as significant as what happened in Tulsa in 1921 was left for me to discover on my own?

One book that has recently added tremendous perspective for me on race in this country is The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. She posits that the mass incarceration of African-American and Hispanic people in this country (the numbers don’t lie) equates to a third iteration of slavery here. She backs it up with plausible evidence. Additionally, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson provides three compelling case studies interspersed with remarkable census evidence to describe the great migration of more than 6 million African-Americans out of the south between 1916 and 1970. Her fascinating narrative and data provide context for the ways in which the nuances of laws in this country couple with covert and often indirect behavior to subtly shape and splinter our society along racial lines. Learning more about our collective past, together, gives us shared context to understand patterns that are otherwise too complex, too terrifying, and too divisive for us to work on together.

Framing the Conversation

I believe familiarity is the antidote to the cancer of stereotypes.  During my time as a Resident Director in graduate school, I worked with a fellow director named Joy.  She was a strong and bright African American woman – double major MBA and MPH at the University of Michigan. I consider Joy a great influence on my understanding of race and oppression in this country.  One day when I made an ignorant, uninformed statement based on a stereotype, she asked if I’d ever considered the confluence of issues and the struggle associated with being a woman in this country AND being African American – in many ways a “double minority.”  At the time, I’d never given it much thought.  Since then, it’s often on my radar screen - like many other insights and perspectives Joy shared with me.

Working my entire professional career in community colleges has provided me with the opportunity to experience countless trainings and workshops on diversity-related topics of all kinds. Academics have a reputation for overthinking things and playing with language too much, but when it comes to conversations about race, words matter. Think about the distinctions between diversity and inclusivity; tolerance and acceptance; support and respect; racism and bias. I sometimes hear people talk about “reverse racism” and wonder how much time they’ve spent exploring definitions of racism and the role of power. Can one be a racist from a powerless position or are such attitudes simply a defensive response to a culturally engrained, legally sanctioned, historically persistent, institutionally entrenched systemic bias?  Can reverse racism exist if the power structure in America is as it always has been? I subscribe to the notion that what most people think is reverse racism is better defined as racial bias – a small but important difference that recognizes the role of power.

Conversations about race often seem too uncomfortable and contradict too many stereotypes we have in our minds to simplify the world for ourselves.  Breaking down stereotypes requires those with societally provided power to willingly let go of that in order to learn and understand the dynamics at play when it comes to race.  It requires a default belief that we are all equal – all human in every sense of the word. And it requires exploring and understanding the outcomes that different humans and groups of humans experience.  Understanding comes through inquiry and that includes challenging our thinking and asking difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable questions to which the answers may not be readily available.  To this day, I’m not sure I fully understand why white people tan – maybe someday I will.

If you have any comments on this post, you can contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Societal Implications: Getting Ahead of the Future That’s Already Here

It seems a news story appears in front of me at least once a week that gives me pause – nanotechnology, drones, 3-D printing, the Internet of everything, and countless other developments demonstrate the far and distant future is already here.  A movie that pulls much of it together for me is Transendence.  Whether or not you like Johnny Depp or the movie itself, it has a number of futuristic applications of technologies that exist today – pulled together to demonstrate a particular scenario for how all of this may someday coincide. Nanoparticles that regenerate on their own; bio-engineering that heals wounds and illness; smart machines that anticipate human actions and emotions; all notions that are currently in the research labs of today – likely to be part of our daily lives in a matter of years through an ongoing series of disruptive innovations.

The future is here.

What’s amazing to me is that two of the most disruptive and eventually ubiquitous industries of the 21st Century (and beyond!) are likely to have their core here in upstate New York and the Mohawk Valley specifically.  Nanotechnology is already changing our world through faster and more powerful computer applications and personal devices that are providing new horizons for education – just think of how many apps are already employed in the life of our students.  Additionally, drones are increasingly in the news.  Beyond the highly touted Amazon deliveries, I’ve included a brief link here for the top ten non-military uses of Drones.



While our FabLab is being constructed this fall, 3-D printing is evolving at an incredible rate.  The technology has gone from printing fun little prototypes to real-world useful products in a proverbial blink of an eye. Bio-printing creates human body parts like ears, noses, fingers, and human skin.  The idea was a TED talk two years ago and had people dreaming of the future…the first surgery using a 3-D printed body part has already been successfully completed!  Edible cookies and other food applications; countless manufacturing applications (including an entirely functional automobile!); and just about whatever anyone can construct in their mind are already being produced.

The dynamics and intersections of all these elements are hard to track in some confluence that lays out a clear path of action for us.  What we do know is that it’s all coming together in some fashion to create a very new and complex future for us and our students.  What gives me hope and confidence is the history of MVCC and this organization’s ability to evolve and meet a changing future in productive ways.  Our challenge is how to create an ongoing dialogue across the College to scan, process, and derive meaning from everything going on around us to take the innovative practices happening at the fringe of our enterprise and scale up by bringing them to the core.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Organizational Implications: Getting Ahead of the Future That’s Already Here

I have written in previous posts about the parallel between the healthcare industry and the postsecondary industry and I continue to be fascinated how trends in healthcare remain about ten years ahead of postsecondary education.  From increased accountability to big data applications, analyzing healthcare trends is like looking into a crystal ball of sorts when it comes to preparing for fundamental changes to the political and operating environment for colleges.

Consumerism is the newest trend appearing in the healthcare field.  A number of signals are demonstrating that the only way to bring the rising costs of healthcare under control is to put more responsibility on the consumer – and that is happening at an accelerating rate.  The same is likely to be true with the costs of a college education.  As federal financial policies are under greater scrutiny and states grow increasingly frustrated with the lack of outcomes (i.e., healthcare industry circa 2010), new mechanisms may appear that put the power and responsibility in the hands of the student (consumer) in even more significant ways.  For example, in Colorado, the state aid revenue doesn’t go to the community college, it goes with the student in the form of a voucher.  For now, it sounds like a lot of paperwork, but the principle is a tangible message of things to come in the future of public higher education in this country.

The changing dynamics of the external forces require us to anticipate trends before they’re even identified as such – as the famous hockey player Wayne Gretzky is quoted as saying, “I skate to where the puck will be, not where it has been.”  So too must community colleges go to where their community will be; and where the students will be; and where the funding will be; and where the accountability will be – that is where we must go.

The future is here.

As change becomes more rapid and more acute in our external environment, we must become that much better at change in our internal culture.  Peter Drucker is credited with saying, “culture eats strategy for breakfast” and I believe he is right.  We all must work on our culture.  The recent development of a new core values statement is very exciting.  Having a set of core values provides us a foundation to develop a common vocabulary and hold each other accountable, but it also provides a steady and stable force for our organizational culture in the midst of great changes all around us.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Teaching & Learning: Getting Ahead of the Future That’s Already Here

"The future ain’t what it used to be."  The quote attributed to Yogi Berra could not be more meaningful these days.  We can easily get caught in our own thinking ruts – using linear thinking and mental models that are increasingly, if not already, outdated by a world that is changing faster than most anyone of us can comprehend.  It is all too easy to make assumptions from our individual and collective experiences that simply extrapolate the past into the present, while thinking the future will be best met through similar approaches to those that have worked in the past. Rut thinking and stale mental models limit our thinking; inhibits a mindset of abundance; and minimizes options for problem solving.

The future is here.

No area is free from the crushing presence of the future that is already upon us.  This includes the core of our enterprise – teaching and learning.  Fortunately, MVCC has a long history of amazing faculty members who are drawn to the craft of teaching and is fortunate to have a number of faculty currently pushing the envelope by experimenting with the latest developments in the art and practice of teaching.

We have enrichment and professional development for faculty and staff through a nationally recognized program of outstanding and robust offerings. Continuous learning for ourselves is critical when we consider how quickly changes in the educational setting are accelerating. 

Research on the human brain over the past decade has demonstrated the consistent finding that learning occurs best when students experience a shift of some kind every 12 minutes – mini-lecture; video; individual reflection; small group discussion; mini-lecture; video; etc.  What does that require of classrooms, technology, furniture, faculty, students, or materials? 

Massive Open Online Courses where thousands can enroll in a single section of a free online course offered by well-known universities are a disruptive innovation.  While their immediate threat to traditional education seems to have transitioned to providing access to education in lesser developed countries, they represent a new educational delivery brought to scale. 

Open educational resources (OER) leverage the wealth of information that is available for free on the Internet.  OERs in full form take the shape of the “free textbook” – replacing the traditional textbook with guided links to all the necessary information that can be found on the web in one form or another.  Nationally, average textbook costs equal more than 70% of community college tuition making this a financial imperative toward reducing educational costs for our students. 

The “flipped classroom” combines brain research and OERs with intentional mini-lectures and facilitates students accessing the traditional information outside the classroom and doing their traditional homework inside the classroom through guided activities following an initial mini-lecture to set the stage for very active learning. 

Hybrid offerings combine the best of traditional classroom learning with the best of online learning in a convenient and intentionally designed curriculum delivery.

I’m proud to say we have a number of faculty already applying many of these concepts in their classes, but the challenge with any change is how to bring it to scale to maximize the benefits that can lead to further innovations.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big Data is Coming

I remember my graduate advisor telling me, “If you want to work in community colleges, start in Institutional Research. Community colleges don’t know anything about themselves and you’ll learn about every area of the college because everyone needs data.” Twenty-five years later, that proved to be great advice because it was easy to find a job; I learned about most every area of the community college operation; and community colleges still know very little about themselves. 

The same is true here at MVCC, where individual faculty and staff know a great deal about their jobs, but the organization as a whole lacks the collective understanding of the factors that affect the college. One solution to this challenge is Big Data.

The increasing profile and interest in big data is now moving from the private sector to higher education through increased accountability and reporting requirements, performance-based funding, and the national student success agenda. In fact, SUNY’s annual conference last fall was presented with the overarching conference theme of “Big Data.”

A few years ago, I was intrigued when the employment projections said, “7 out of the 10 jobs that will be in demand in 2015 don’t exist yet.” A data scientist is an example of a new job category that is finding employment in big businesses like Amazon, Apple, and Google. Ever wonder how they know what books you might want to read or songs you might want to buy? It’s called data analytics or big data. I recently heard of a petabyte as a unit of computer memory that is 1024 terabytes, which in turn is 1024 gigabytes. I was not surprised that a new category was needed until I later learned that after petabytes, there are exabytes, zettabytes, yottabytes, brontobytes, and, the largest of all, geopbytes – talk about big data!

The collection and analysis of large databases to inform decision-making has been around for some time, but the evolution of the field is rapidly moving toward predictive analytics – using data to not only inform decision-making, but to predict human behavior based on intentional analysis.

Having always worked in community colleges, I’m hesitant to quickly translate business models and trends into the educational sector. However, predictive analytics and big data seem relevant and useful. Consider the following:
  • Students shouldn’t have to apply for graduation – we should have enough data to tell them when they’re eligible to graduate, right?
  • Why aren’t colleges able to better explain – specifically – swings in enrollment and the reasons for them?
  • If we know the factors that put students at risk, why aren’t more interventions done earlier in a student’s educational journey?
  • With the right data collection and analysis, shouldn’t colleges be able to STOP doing more things that don’t work and investing more in the things that do work?
  • We send so much data to the State and SUNY through mandatory reporting requirements that they know more about us than we do about ourselves.
MVCC recently joined the Achieving the Dream (ATD) national network as part of our commitment to student success. Now in its tenth year, the network has helped its member colleges enhance their ability to collect, analyze, and use data to inform decision-making at all levels. Many colleges have stopped doing things that they thought were good ideas and well-intentioned initiatives, because when they analyzed the data, they weren’t making a difference in student success. It is still very early in the process for us – we haven’t even attended the kickoff institute for new member colleges.  However, I am confident that MVCC’s membership in ATD will accelerate our entry into the world of Big Data, which will be a much more productive transition if we move there through our own initiative than being dragged there by some other entity. Who knows, we could even learn something about ourselves.

If you have any questions or comments on this post, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Celebrate Libraries During National Library Week

One of our daughters recently asked me a question while she was working on a paper for school.  She asked, “Dad, how did you do any research before the Internet?  I mean what were libraries like without computers?”  My explanation was probably longer than she anticipated or wanted, as I recalled (in great detail) the routine of going to the card catalog and looking up a particular book on a little 3x5 index card and going through the “stacks” to find all the books I needed – time and again and again, as I could only carry so many books at one time while working on my dissertation.  Suffice it to say, things were very different and libraries have literally transformed themselves in the last twenty years – a transformation worth recognizing during National Library Week, which is this week April 13-19, 2014.

I’m so proud of our libraries and the staff that make them such a valuable resource at both our Utica and Rome Campuses.  Over the past several years, our librarians recognized the importance of the Internet and reduced the number of hard copy books in our collection; developed an amazing inter-library loan service that provides most any book on demand in a day or two; and added or upgraded computers to significantly better serve students.  Additionally, the renovations at our Utica Campus library added study rooms that are used regularly by students throughout the year.  Over the past several years, our library regularly ranks as one of the most highly regarded services at the College in comparison to others in the SUNY system on the Student Opinion Survey.

A campus library is an iconic element in the center of the academic experience.  We’re fortunate at MVCC to have an outstanding and forward-thinking library staff that we celebrate here during National Library Week.  To learn more about libraries at MVCC, watch our brief video here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xt4PgkbSRdc

If you have any questions, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Go with Your Strengths

"They focused on their strengths and that's how they won the game" is a statement I've heard announcers and analysts say time and again throughout the March Madness NCAA basketball tournament that culminated with Monday’s and Tuesday’s national championships.  The same holds true for success in our personal and professional lives.   Focusing on what we do best and doing more of whatever it may be gives us confidence; yields success; and that success yields even more success.

The Gallup organization has taken more than 50 years of research to develop 34 themes that we all carry to some degree.  The idea of strengths is that the more we are aware of our top five themes, the more we can turn them into strengths through our awareness and conscious actions.  It involves a 30 minute 188-item online questionnaire that assesses personal preferences on a number of different dimensions.

I believe our continued use of a strengths-based approach to personal and professional growth has the potential to become a distinctive feature of Mohawk Valley Community College.  Centering conversations on someone's strengths can provide a constructive context to have an otherwise difficult conversation.  Strengths inherently refer to the best in all of us and can provide a creative mechanism to think differently about a problem or challenge.  So many organizations, and colleges in particular, find themselves relying on old habits of problem solving. In contrast, a strengths-based approach opens new doors to conversations that can lead to new solutions - whether it be a gifted student trying to turn that C into an A or a College trying to address a recurring problem.

In the past three years, nearly 70 percent (302) of all current full-time employees and more than 100 part-time employees have completed the Gallup Strengthsfinder assessment.  They've done so not only to better understand themselves and each other, but perhaps even more importantly, to better understand and support our students - more than 1,000 currently enrolled students (and another 2,000 who have since moved on) have completed the assessment themselves.  With the support of faculty and staff who are familiar with strengths these students are learning to leverage their strengths to change their behavior and experience greater success in their academic studies at MVCC.

A number of classes at MVCC use the book, StrengthsFinder 2.0.  The book is written by Gallup executive Tom Rath and provides the security key to take the assessment along with an explanation of the 34 themes along with some advice on how to use your strengths. The book helps people understand that a focus on strengths is about making the most of our talents rather than a discouraging focus to repair our flaws.  Rath argues that focusing on our strengths not only increases our confidence and productivity, but our outlook and sense of hope – isn’t that something we could all use?

The mindset of abundance and strength is also an important underpinning of our forthcoming strategic plan process, which I wrote about here.

The Strengths page on our website provides greater detail (including a brief video from a previous vlog) http://www.mvcc.edu/academic-programs/strengthsquest-1.  If you have any questions or comments on this post, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Built to Last – the Value of Core Values

Our external environment is becoming more complex with forces like nanotechnology and drone technology abounding. This is shaping the economic future of our region, so the demands and expectations placed on MVCC by the community will increase accordingly. Couple those demands with the increasing influence of the Power of SUNY Strategic Plan and we run the risk of getting pulled in all directions without focus or clarity. As I spelled out in my previous blog, this calls for a more intentional strategic planning process. To support the process, I invite you to revisit the core values of what makes Mohawk Valley Community College the unique and dynamic organization that it’s been, is, and will continue to be.

Core values define how organizations will go about achieving their potential. They can motivate and unite an organization’s employees and stakeholders, and they serve to tether an organization during periods of ambiguity or accelerated change. As Jim Collins says in his book, Built to Last, “enduring great organizations preserve their core values and purpose while their…strategies and operating practices endlessly adapt to a changing world. This is the magical combination of preserve the core and stimulate progress.”

 Similarly, in his book, Good to Great, Collins states that there are no correct core values. Rather, the mere fact that an organization has a set of core values and knows what they mean sets them apart from organizations that do not have a clear understanding of their core values.

With this in mind, I announced at Convocation last August that we would be embarking on a process this year to revisit our Core Values at MVCC. I placed a call for interested faculty and staff who would like to serve on a Core Values Workgroup last month and received 35 responses. From that list, I invited 13 individuals to serve as a representative group to lead the process. Professor Ron Labuz agreed to serve as chair and the group has met to outline their approach. 

The Values Workgroup identified a number of constituents to survey and collect insights and perspective on what makes MVCC unique. During the remainder of the Spring semester, students, employees, retirees, and community partners will be asked to reflect on what is at the core of MVCC. The workgroup will define and amplify the responses into a statement of enduring values – a statement providing one, unifying point of connection among the many stories told about our organizational culture.

A meaningful statement of core values can serve as our safe harbor amid winds of change. These values can guide decision-making, influence our individual and collective actions, and shape our conversations and deliberations in ways that build on the best of what has made MVCC special through nearly seven decades of service to this community and more than 40,000 alumni.
If you want to have direct input at the front end of the process, please respond to the workgroup’s survey questions—and be prepared to participate and offer your reflections as the process moves forward.

If you have any comments or questions, please contact me directly at presblog@mvcc.edu.