Friday, May 9, 2008

Faculty and Staff Development in a Complex and Dynamic Future

I have explored our changing world in previous blog postings. With these fundamental shifts in our society and economy, professional development for our faculty and staff seems to be of unprecedented importance. This changing world was part of the impetus for creating a special system design team charter for the existing College Senate staff development committee to conduct research and make recommendations to improve staff development opportunities at MVCC - http://www.mvcc.edu/fcltystaff/involvement/development.cfm. After examining our existing staff development offerings and researching best practices in community colleges around the country, their recommendations were as follows:
  1. 12 contact hours of staff development be required annually of all full-time employees (including the President) during the course of their normal workday and academic schedule. We think that, in time, that amount may increase.
  2. A minimum of 6 hours of staff development will be related to job and professional responsibilities, and the remainder may be used for professional or personal growth opportunities as desired.
  3. These hours will encompass self-study, presentations, and improvement, and there should be a minimum of 3 hours per academic semester completed on-campus.
  4. Attendance at workshops would count for 1 hour per hour of workshop and scale credit would be given for attending conferences and giving presentations.
  5. The Staff Development Committee will work with CCED and other groups and committees within the College to coordinate and organize workshops.
  6. Hours will be tracked through Banner (non-credit).
  7. Faculty and Staff may participate in more training, if desired.
  8. Approval of requests for funding for travel to conferences and professional workshops remain with the Staff Development Committee
  9. The Committee have additional representation from departments such as security, facilities, and secretarial staff, for a maximum of 15 members. The Committee will serve as an advisory board to the Staff Development director(s).
  10. The Staff Development Program itself should be run by a professional, and have an office and support staff.
  11. The College should join the National Council of Staff, Program and Organizational Development Membership. This organization (NCSPOD) is an affiliate council of the American Association of Community Colleges, providing training, programs and publications about staff development for community colleges.
All of these recommendations were reviewed jointly by the College Senate and Executive Team with support to implement them as possible. As I consider these recommendations, I think we'll need to focus on getting the fundamental pieces in place, as our current academic calendar is not structured to accommodate dedicated days for faculty and staff development outside of the existing Summer Institute. While no specific mention of the Teaching and Learning Collaborative (TLC) was provided in the recommendations, there are no plans to continue the TLC, but rather identifying ways to provide resources that will allow for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to professional development for all faculty and staff.

Priorities for the coming year as the result of these recommendations will be to:
  1. identify personnel resources in some fashion to work closely with the Senate staff development committee to coordinate efforts in this area and implement as many of the design team recommendations as possible.
  2. create a system for identifying professional development needs for faculty and staff; inventorying and providing resources to provide the offerings; and creating tracking systems for registration and transcripting.
  3. consider identifying dedicated days in the development of the academic calendar for 2009-10.
  4. enhance the new employee orientation that was established this year.
  5. create a new faculty institute for the fall 2008 cohort of new full-time faculty.
  6. create a core staff development workshop (similar to the accreditation/values workshops this past March) focused on the important connection all employees share in helping to support student success.
I thought the Committee did an outstanding job in carrying out their charter. I'm excited about the possibilities of the priorities I've listed here to make a significant difference in helping to create a vibrant culture at MVCC. The 2008-2013 strategic plan includes the evaluation and implementation of these recommendations and I'm confident that these efforts will go a long way in providing great opportunities for faculty and staff at MVCC. I'd be interested in what you think about what I've shared here - contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Celebrating Student Success

'Tis the season as they say - the season to celebrate student success that is. As we come to the end of the spring semester and the academic year, I find myself readily inspired by the accomplishments and celebration of student success at MVCC. For the past two weeks, I have been addressing the recommendations of the system design teams in my blog posts. I plan on continuing to do so, but I'm compelled to insert a post here to reflect on some recent and upcoming events celebrating student success.

Last week we inducted more than 50 students into the Lambda Beta Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international student honor society of community colleges. The family, friends, and staff in attendance filled ACC 116 and helped make for a great event that celebrated our top academic students.

The Student Clubs and Organizations Awards Reception celebrated the student leaders of the more than 40 student clubs and organizations at MVCC. With opportunities for students to participate at both the Utica and Rome Campuses, these student leaders bring a special element to making MVCC an exciting and dynamic college experience for all students. It was great to see the faculty and staff advisors recognized for their guidance and mentoring of these student leaders as well.

One of my favorite things about MVCC is the way in which some of the academic departments provide personalized ceremonies of student success. Last fall we had the "completion ceremonies" for the first class of Airframe and Powerplant students and a similar ceremony for the CNC machinists who completed the innovative program in partnership with Bartell, Inc. in Rome. Here in the spring, the Social Sciences department put together a wonderful ceremony for students who received awards and scholarships (one scholarship completely funded by the faculty in the department) - you could feel the sense of pride and belonging among the many students in attendance. As we approach the College's graduation ceremony on Friday, May 16th, we'll also have similar celebrations like the Athletic Awards Banquet and the inspiring scholarship reception that links many of our generous scholarship donors with the well-deserving student recipients. In addition, we'll have our Psi Beta student honor society induction ceremony for psychology students and our nursing program ceremony for this year's nursing class, as well as many other smaller celebrations around the College.

I once heard a community college president say that one of her favorite responsibilities was getting to be a part of so many student celebrations - I have to agree. I like to say that our success as a college is only limited by the success of our students. To see all that our students are accomplishing is a wonderful affirmation of the incredible talent and determination found in MVCC students and the fantastic support that our faculty and staff provide to do what we can to help students reach their potential during their time here. If you have any other ideas of how we can celebrate student success in unique and meaningful ways, contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.