ASHEBORO (August 10, 2018)
Nine of Randolph Community College’s Board of Trustees members and several members of the RCC Foundation’s Board were on hand to welcome the more than 200 RCC faculty and staff members gathered for the school’s fall convocation on Aug. 10 in the R. Alton Cox Learning Resources Center auditorium. The college opens its 56th year when classes begin Wednesday, Aug. 15.
As is tradition during the fall convocation, President Robert S. Shackleford introduced his Presidential Initiatives. Last year, Dr. Shackleford revealed the Framework for Great planning process, which identified initiatives that would cover three years, with new focus area strategies each year. This is the second year of the three-year planning cycle. Shackleford said this “integrated planning process helps to push the College forward by making sure we are all working in the same direction.”
The initiatives, which Dr. Shackleford introduced when he became president of the College in January 2007, fall into five areas identified as the core values of the College: Community, Employees, Quality Education, Radical Hospitality, and Student Success.
Under the core value of Community, the initiative revealed last year was to “advance the Randolph County Strategic Plan.” The year two strategy for RCC is an Agriculture Assessment, under which RCC plans to obtain program approval from the North Carolina Community College System for an Agribusiness Technology curriculum; negotiate/develop an Agribusiness 2+2 agreement with a university or universities in the area; assess the feasibility of developing a Horticulture program in conjunction with the N.C. Zoo; and study the feasibility of an Agritourism program.
Under the Employees core value, Shackleford set an initiative to “improve enrollment management” last year. After evaluating current and past approaches last year, Shackleford said this year’s strategy would be to enhance the enrollment process by “utilizing enhanced technology and improved methodologies to more effectively communicate with prospective and current students; and to use data-driven enrollment trend analyses to help direct our enrollment strategies and the allocation of enrollment management resources.” He noted that a tuition-due deadline this week ended up purging 247 potential students from RCC’s enrollment, but that efforts to contact and communicate with students in the last two weeks had reduced that number from 800 students who enrolled but hadn’t paid. “We are making efforts to find out who these people are and why they aren’t showing up,” he said.
The third initiative, for Quality Education, focused on the 10th anniversary of “Good to Great,” a philosophy Dr. Shackleford introduced to the College in 2007 based on Jim Collins’ book and its concepts. After reemphasizing these concepts last year, Shackleford said the year two strategy would be to utilize the Good to Great evaluation process to make better planning decisions. That would include more professional development for faculty and staff and centralizing the collection of data, reports, and the continuous improvement process for assessment purposes.
Under core value #4, Radical Hospitality, the initiative was to focus on recreating the advising and student success systems at the College. After extensive evaluation in year one, year two will focus on “developing an optimal advising experience for our students,” said Shackleford. “Research shows that the very first advising experience the student has is critical to their success.” That strategy will include transforming the advising experience to go far beyond course selection, to including developing appropriate academic pathways, retention strategies, and career exploration.
Under the core value of Student Success with the initiative to better match skills taught with the workforce, RCC spent last year evaluating how well its courses matched with the job market and needed skills. “Now we need to integrate what we learned about needed high-demand workforce skills into our curriculum,” he said. That includes placing a major emphasis on “soft skills” training in all curricula and reshaping the College’s workforce training to respond better to business and industry’s short-term training needs. Shackleford mentioned the funding inequities between the state formulas for funding curriculum programs and continuing education programs. “The biggest thing in this year’s (community college system) budget is that more money was given to the community college system to provide short-term training,” he said.
In closing the convocation, Shackleford told the assembled faculty and staff, “I hope you understand that there are no little people at RCC. Your job is in the budget because it is important to the College. Before you walk out of here this morning, know that you are important to me, you are important to this Board of Trustees, you are important to your coworkers, and you are important to the students.”