Opinion — Planning for Success – Farmville
ILast year, the Virginia Community College State Board unanimously approved a new strategic plan, Opportunity 2027. the plan.
Opportunity 2027 has one overarching goal: “Virginia community colleges will provide equity in access, learning outcomes, and success for students of all races, ethnicities, genders, and socioeconomic groups.” The innovative plan, which was developed with equity in mind, emphasizes diversity and inclusion and provides tangible strategies for results and metrics. With it, the Virginia Community College System is positioned as a leader among state systems in our country.
SVCC’s Vice President of Enrollment Management and Student Success, Dr. Daryl Minus, explains, “Equity-based principles and practices are the common thread that connects our goals, strategies and objectives. From curriculum review and faculty development to student onboarding and holistic support services, Opportunity 2027 is ambitious. It engages sectors of our institution in the important work of making us the first choice for workforce and academic development while meeting the expectation that everything we do is through an equity lens.
The statewide plan offers sub-goals and multi-faceted objectives in support of its primary objective. It addresses broad areas regarding diversity, inclusion, recruitment, student access, and success, especially among minority and disadvantaged students. This is, however, only a starting point.
As an individual college, the SVCC must formulate a specific response. This important process is already underway, and it gives us the opportunity to ask questions about where we are heading as a college. Ultimately, our local strategic plan will provide a roadmap for the work we do. It will explain how we will achieve the objectives and goals of the statewide plan and how these tasks align with our mission.
We began the process earlier this year by gathering feedback from internal and external stakeholders. We convened focus groups with faculty, students, staff, and administrators. We hosted regional discussions with business and industry advisors, legislators, community leaders and education partners. A poll has been set up at https://bit.ly/svcc-csp for members of the general public to provide their input, and I hope you will take the time to share your thoughts with us.
Investing time and effort in a comprehensive strategic planning process is a worthwhile undertaking for two simple reasons. First, we are required to do so by law and as part of maintaining our accreditation, which must be maintained in order to grant academic degrees and participate in federal financial aid programs. Second, the process helps us set priorities that guide where our resources should be invested.
SVCC’s jurisdiction covers 10 counties over 4,200 square miles. We provide education services to dual enrollment students, mature students, workforce students, and students in college transfer programs. We operate two full campuses and several off-campus centers. Maintaining a standard of excellence for all those we serve requires a coordinated effort.
SVCC has always been concerned with diversity, inclusion, and equity, but this strategic planning process provides a unique opportunity for our college to grow and be a leader within the Virginia Community College System. . We can make a difference. We can move the needle, and I’m glad. I am excited about our future.
Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of educational opportunities to a diverse student population in a service area that spans 10 counties and the city of Emporia. He can be contacted by email at [email protected]