Monday, August 29, 2011

Learning Together

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


(MVCC President Randall J. VanWagoner, Ph.D.):
This week on my vlog, I'd like to spotlight our employee enrichment program. At MVCC, learning isn't just for our students, but it's for everyone who works here. 

In 2008, we had a system design team do research across the country on best practices in professional development programs at community colleges around the country. They made a recommendation that employee enrichment and professional development for all of our employees become an institutional commitment, and we've committed those resources to developing the program.

The comprehensive program throughout the year not only provides outstanding learning experiences for employees, but creates opportunities for colleagues to develop stronger relationships across job functions. This results in more positive interactions, improved teamwork, and more engaged employees. With a number of institutes provided throughout the year, each institute brings a variety of topics, and this August was no different. Many of the programs advance initiatives in the college's strategic plan, and others are suggested by MVCC employees, making this institute even more personalized and audience-centered.

(John Bullis, executive director of Organizational Development at MVCC):
We've run the institutes for the past three years in the configuration that we have now, and really what I've seen is a tremendous growth in the capacity of our faculty and staff, on a number of different fronts. We've trained ... our faculty and staff is trained in dozens of different areas, so we've really added a lot of capacity to what our faculty and staff can do. For example, in the last year we've trained over a half-dozen faculty and staff in Master Facilitation, so that they can go in and facilitate groups and work sessions for their centers or other areas of the college.

(Randall J. VanWagoner):
Many faculty members learned how to empower their students to become active, responsible, and successful learners with the "On Course" workshop. The learner-centered strategies represent best practices from innovators in many fields, and have helped students become full and active partners in their own education.

Employees attended workshops on classroom design, wellness, and conflict resolution as part of our Civility Project efforts at the college. In "Classroom Management and Student Motivation," MVCC Professor David Katz shared time-tested principles to help create a classroom atmosphere that will improve student motivation and learning in a lively, engaged, orderly, respectful, and compelling environment. David also led a workshop on emotional intelligence, student efficacy, and student success.

(David Katz, coordinator of Employee Enrichment programs)
The idea of trying to imbue every single employee that comes to our college with this culture of excellence, and that we are about trying to be as good as we possibly can be so we can serve the people we are serving in the most effective manner possible. I think that has been a very nice corollary to the program in terms of benefit. I think we have really started to get people thinking, "Hey, they're really serious about everybody here being good and being able to help students in whatever way possible."

(Randall J. VanWagoner):
We know that the more engaged students are in their own learning and their own experiences here at MVCC, the more successful they'll become. I believe the same notion holds true for everyone who works here. The more engaged we are in our own work and our own learning, and the more connected we feel to one another, the happier we'll be. And the happier we are, the more successful we'll become in carrying out the important work of MVCC.

Thanks for watching.

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

Monday, August 22, 2011

The First Day of Class

I’m reminded every semester how the first day of class is one of those points in the calendar that makes working at a community college so special. So much goes into preparing the College for a new academic year, the pace and level of effort is remarkable. When the first day of class finally arrives, helping students find their ways and resolving unanticipated issues requires an “all-hands-on-deck” approach at both of our campuses. This day is filled with countless interactions for everyone.

While student admissions, enrollment, and advising appointments build steadily throughout the summer, the few weeks before the semester are packed with activities like new student orientation; deep cleaning of facilities; faculty meetings; preparation of countless events; and staffing classes for sections opened in response to waitlist demand. When that first day arrives, we know we're ready - come what may.

MVCC faculty and staff take part in a workshop titled "Empowering Students to Get on Course" with Robin Middleton at the August Institute Professional Development event before the start of the Fall semester.

The bustle associated with students finding the right classrooms fills the halls of most every building. Sometimes you can just see the look in a student’s eyes that says, "I could use some help." We're striving for that standard where, no matter what role we may play at the College, we're all here to help students - whether it's answering a question or helping a new member of our “family” find their way, we're here to help.

MVCC students receive help at one of the Information Booths set up around campus.

I try to meet as many new students as I can on the first day and work hard to make new connections. I'm always surprised throughout the year how many of these same students’paths cross mine - and we can always point back to that first day of class. With 7,500 students and my hectic schedule, I'd think the odds of running into someone again wouldn't be very good, but each year the same pattern emerges.

Students gather outside of the Alumni College Center on the first day of classes.

Settling in to a new academic year always brings a certain energy, tempered with a touch of positive anxiety for everyone, that captures everything the college experience should be - calling on the courage to try something new; throwing ourselves into the unknown; trusting others to help us find our way; using our instincts to make the right decisions; and being okay with not knowing everything, but trusting that most things will work out when all is said and done. It's what makes being a college student such a special experience and makes working at a college - particularly a community college - such a rewarding occupation.

It’s the first day of a new academic year at Mohawk Valley Community College. I’m glad I’m here. I’m glad you’re here. Let’s do something great together!

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

Monday, August 15, 2011

New Year Energy

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


Hi! I’m Randy Van Wagoner, I’m the president of Mohawk Valley Community College, and this is my first vlog, so thanks for watching.

You know it’s the start of a new school year, and that’s got me really excited about everything going on here at the college. At MVCC, our mission is to promote student success and community involvement through a commitment to excellence and a spirit of service. And that mission drives our operation every day. You know things are tough with the economy and that’s driving an unprecedented number of individuals to our front door, and we’re doing everything that we can to help.

We maintain our commitment to a comprehensive mission where we’ve got college prep classes, like ESL, Math, English, Reading and Chemistry. But we also have the long-standing career programs, upon which this college was founded 65 years ago. In addition, we’ve got our transfer programs that lead students to the highest institutions around the country. Those programs provide students choice at a time when choice is probably … we don’t have all the choices we need or nor do we want. So those programs are here, they’re coupled up with wraparound services, advising, counseling, free tutoring, our learning center is packed with students studying together, seeking help in and outside their classes.

And our clubs and organizations, we have more than 50 student clubs and organizations that allow students to get involved, recognizing that more or just as much learning goes on outside the classroom as it does inside the classroom.

So as we look to the new year, we have a lot of new initiatives under way, the Jorgensen Field House will be opening early this fall, just creating a lot of excitement here at the college, at both our Utica campus, as well as our Rome campus, and additional locations around the county that we’ve been reaching out to over the past few years, offering both credit and non-credit classes, so no matter what your experience is in the coming year, whether it be enrolling in a credit program or just picking up a non-credit class here at the college, I hope you’re as excited as I am about the new year. So thanks again for watching, and I hope to share even more information with you throughout the year. Thanks.

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