Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Corporate & Community Education

Our new Strategic Plan is gaining significant traction in many areas. With updated vision and mission statements, our work is increasingly focused. With new statements of values and purpose, our work is increasingly collaborative. Part of our Statement of Purpose highlights our endeavors to support community and economic development. One of our five strategic priorities is a focus on creative partnerships with a strategic direction to expand workforce development efforts. To expand our capacity in workforce development, we recently resourced this area with a new organizational structure and staffing pattern in our Center for Corporate and Community Education (CCED) and found a tremendous return on investment. When layoffs happen or workplace technologies shift, CCED gets creatively nimble. Working closely with our faculty and other experts, CCED delivers credit and non-credit learning opportunities where they're needed most.

In 2007-2008, 6,617 students took non-credit classes - that's about as many as the number who took credit classes at MVCC. About 13% of these students took professional development courses like phlebotomy, computer skills, or other training to upgrade their professional value in the marketplace. Another 23% were enrolled through courses and workshops specific to the workplace through training contracts with local employers (nearly 1,500 workers)! The largest portion of the enrollment (64%) came through registrations in community education - everything from ballroom dancing to swimming to yoga. Even the community education arena has taken a workforce development focus, with the addition of 9 career camps in our College for Kids summer programming.

CCED is intended to operate on a "break-even/no loss" basis. In 2007-08, revenues (including grants and contracts) exceeded $1.2 million with a positive margin over expenses of more than $100,000 to the good - a 13.6% increase over the previous year. The Center maintains more than 50 partnerships and serves as a beacon for our creative partnerships priority. With additional staff and their refined roles and responsibilities, I fully anticipate the role of CCED to grow in significance as we find new and meaningful ways to serve the educational and training needs of our community and business partners. If you have any thoughts on workforce or community development, contact me at presblog@mvcc.edu.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Design Team Updates

Last year we created six System Design Teams, comprised of more than sixty faculty and staff, with each team examining a key college service or operational system. Each Team conducted research of best practices and then made bold and thoughtful recommendations to strengthen a number of important functions for us. I've recently heard the question asked, "Whatever happened to all those recommendations?" The answer is short - much has happened and even more will happen. Having all recommendations come together simultaneously last spring “flooded the marketplace” with ideas, leaving us much to consider! Fortunately, everything the Design Teams submitted was integrated into the Strategic Plan and many initiatives are underway based directly on those recommendations. Here’s a brief review.

Student Intake and Student Support
Many of the recommendations from these two Teams greatly informed the changes to the organizational structure last spring. Two full-time academic advisors were hired as part of a larger effort to improve first-year experiences for students. The Testing Center was renovated to allow for more consistent and comprehensive services. New student orientation was greatly enhanced including faculty meeting with new students in their program of interest. The Process Review Team is working on the remainder of the recommendations and sorting through the complexities of implementing a true one-stop model.

Adjunct Faculty Support
An adjunct support coordinator position was created and Susan Smith now fills that role, reporting directly to the VP for Learning and Academic Affairs. An adjunct faculty orientation was held prior to the beginning of fall semester, with more than eighty individuals attending. The remaining recommendations provide an action agenda for the coordinator and academic department heads.

Hiring of New Employees
The Affirmative Action Committee served as the Design Team for this charter and they have continued to refine their recommendations. Their initial findings and suggestions were presented to the Senate and refined before being forwarded to the Cabinet. The Cabinet suggested further refinements, which were communicated to the Senate. The final recommendations will be discussed by the Cabinet in the next few weeks and we'll see subsequent action taken after the first of the year. The focus of these recommendations is to simplify the search process and increase dialogue between the hiring supervisor and the screening committee. The recommendations introduce some very new thinking about how we conduct our search processes. Training opportunities will also be an important action item here.

Staff Development
The recommendations for a staff development system were certainly bold and thoughtful. Although interesting, the specific recommendation requiring twelve hours of annual staff development for full-time employees will not be implemented this year or next. Remaining recommendations will help guide a viable approach to staff development that yields successful and meaningful experiences while avoiding the distractions associated with what is or isn’t included, and how much is or isn't required. The Executive Assistant to the President's position has been eliminated. A new position, Executive Director of Organizational Development, with administrative responsibility for professional development has been created - John Bullis was hired in August for this role. David Katz is on partial release from teaching to serve as Coordinator of Faculty and Staff Development. David is developing and coordinating the New Faculty Institute that has been very well received by participants. Looking forward to next year, the proposed College Calendar has a professional development day identified prior to the start of the fall and spring semesters to provide opportunities for more coordinated and comprehensive staff development offerings. The remainder of the recommendations will be addressed by John, David and the staff development committee.

Employee Recognition
The recommendations for this system combine a refinement and expansion of our employee awards with some additional ideas that I believe will provide a great program of employee recognition for many years to come. The final recommendations are still in discussion at the Cabinet level and I look forward to sharing the final decisions with the College Senate after the first of the year with anticipated implementation next fall.

The results from each of these Design Teams were all worthy of immediate implementation. Although action on some of these recommendations may seem slower than some would prefer, I recognize that any action may seem too fast for others. As a result, I've chosen a more considered path of dialogue and process to increase the likelihood for wider understanding and longer-term success. When the charters were created for these Design Teams, I wasn't looking for quick fixes for systems, as some weren't necessarily broken. I was looking for, and believe we have found, a clear and ambitious path that provides a strategic focus toward improving major systems in an orderly and effective manner.

Let me know if this helped answer the question - "what's happening with all those recommendations anyway?" - presblog@mvcc.edu.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Make Today a Masterpiece

To provide me with a change of pace from various readings on leadership and organizational development, a long and fruitful conversation with a respected colleague here led me to "Reflections on Coaching and Life" by John Wooden, the UCLA men's basketball coach whose teams won 10 national titles in 12 years. I expected to get lost in reading about winning in basketball and found the book to be much more about life in general with applications to me as an individual, as well as what I hope to see happen at the College.

My favorite part of the book was a little section where he talked about making each day a masterpiece. Wooden wrote, "Too often we get distracted by what's outside our control. You can't do anything about yesterday. The door to the past has been shut and the key thrown away. You can do nothing about tomorrow. It is yet to come. However, tomorrow is in large part determined by what you do today. So make today a masterpiece. You have control over that" (p. 11). He has a simple rule for making this happen - apply yourself each day to become a little better. If you do that, over time, you'll become a lot better. When I think about all the continuous quality improvement efforts in business and higher education - and their associated complex frameworks...I like Coach Wooden's take on things - just get a little better every day and commit to that over a long period of time and you'll be amazed at what you accomplish. This idea has a great deal of power in its simplicity when I think of our Strategic Plan and how the next five years may unfold for us at MVCC - we just need to work at it each and every day and try to get a little better as we go.

I was also struck by his indirect approach to focusing his teams. He underscored the fact that winning was not their goal - rather, it was a by-product of their primary focus, which was playing well together as a team. I quickly gravitated toward this notion. I don't see increases in enrollment, graduation or retention rate as our primary focus. I see the pursuit of our vision by fulfilling our mission through the animation of our core values as the focus and, like winning ten national championships, all of the other accomplishments and successes are natural by-products from a collective focus on what matters most.

Perhaps inspired by Dr. Eannace in her last post, I'll close with a poem that Coach Wooden inserts from sportswriter Grantland Rice. I think it applies to sports, theatre, work and life in general.

How to be a Champion
You wonder how they do it,
You look to see the knack,
You watch the foot in action,
Or the shoulder or the back.
But when you spot the answer
Where the higher glamours lurk,
You'll find in moving higher
Up the laurel-covered spire,
That most of it is practice,
And the rest of it is work.

As ever, I'd appreciate your thoughts and insights - presblog@mvcc.edu.