Speeches and Writings
Dear TCC Community,
I want to take a moment to wish you a happy and productive new year. I hope the spring 2013 semester is off to a good start for all of our students, faculty and staff.
It’s hard for me to believe I joined TCC more than six months ago – the time has flown! – and every day I am excited to be here. I expect this year to be very busy for me personally and also for College leadership as we undertake a critical strategic planning process. I’d like to tell you a little about that, and a little about my activities.
It’s extremely important for colleges and universities to have a roadmap. Not only is it required by the State Council for Higher Education in Virginia and by our accrediting body, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, it is also vital in this era of uncertain funding that we define our priorities to ensure we are providing value to our students, employers in the region and Virginia’s taxpayers. In February, we will begin a planning process using Appreciative Inquiry, in which a broad cross section of our community will examine TCC’s strengths and opportunities, and build on them.
I intend to deliver our plan to the College Board this summer. It’s an aggressive timetable that will demand a great deal of time and consideration from all of us. You will be hearing more soon, and we will keep the community informed through a special website. I hope I can expect your full participation.
One of the realities we are dealing with is a fairly steep enrollment decline since the fall semester, which is expected to be around 8 percent for the year. The cause is primarily the result of several factors: a new federal financial aid applicant data verification process, tougher satisfactory academic performance requirements for financial aid, and our redesign of developmental education. In addition, the U.S. Department of Education eliminated the summer Pell grant program, which had a negative impact on enrollment at the beginning of the academic year.
This directly affects our budget, since student tuition makes up more than half of our revenue of $149 million. Gov. McDonnell’s proposed 2013-2014 budget contains net new funding of $2.5 million for the Virginia Community College System; however, that’s spread over 23 schools, so we can’t expect to make up for all of the lost revenue. The General Assembly, of course, will have the final say on the governor’s budget. Meanwhile, we will manage through this – with vacancy savings, carryforward savings, aggressive outreach and recruitment efforts, and, as always, conservative fiscal management.
Finally, I am excited to share with you that Theresa Bryant, vice president for workforce development, and I will be traveling as part of a higher education delegation to India in early February, at the invitation of the U.S. government and the American Association of Community Colleges. The focus is on certain economic priorities identified by the Indian government. Our role will center on applied degree and certificate programs and workforce development. The governments of the U.S. and India, not TCC, are picking up the expenses.
I wish you all great success in your academic endeavors this semester, and I will look forward to seeing another class of graduates at our 56th commencement in May.
Edna Baehre-Kolovani, Ph.D.