College Initiatives Update

As we move into the month of November with our sights on the end of year activities, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you an update on a number of college initiatives.

PVCC 2020-2023 Strategic Plan. Work continues on developing the next generation strategic plan for the college. Our plan will be aligned with the District’s primary drivers of: Ensuring high levels of student success and equity; Cultivating a sustainable, competitive market advantage; and Building a great place to work through organizational effectiveness. A work session will be held on November 22, during which time the framework will be developed. If you are interested in participating in this session contact Ms. Lori Espinoza.

Puma Promise. During the fall convocation work began on the development of the Puma Promise – a covenantal statement that will publicly define our relationship with each other and with students. Watch for the release of draft statements for your input and comment.

Vision for an Integrated Learning Center. A group of faculty and staff have been working on a new vision for the E Building that will transform this space into the learning hub of the campus. While funding for this project is yet to be determined, our shared aspiration is to provide better student access, integrate the major entities (library, computer commons, Learning Success Center), and dramatically enhance space for students to learn in the out-of-class environment.  More details to be shared soon.

FY21 PVCC Budget Process. I’ve reviewed the preliminary budget recommendations from the Budget Planning Committee and am pleased to see, while meeting current operational needs, some funds carved out for innovation and new programming. Additionally, we will be submitting new funding requests to the District in early November.

Faculty and Staff Led Initiatives. Teams are working diligently to address the college’s current strategic priorities including: Guided Pathways, Equity NOW, Diversity and Inclusion, Critical Thinking Academy, and Success by Design. I am pleased to see significant progress on all fronts.

Expansion of PVCC Nursing Program. As you know, PVCC was awarded approximately $3.6 million to support the expansion of our nursing program. In order to accommodate new programs to serve incumbent nurse training and to expand the RN program, an addition will be constructed on to the Health Sciences building for a high-fidelity simulation laboratory.

Clearly these projects are aligned with our 2019-2020 leadership priorities:  a renewed focus on the student experience, redefining PVCC around innovation, creating conditions for employee success, and strengthening our local impact through positive social change.

Learning and student success is alive at PVCC.

More Than Just Grit

One of the keynote speakers at the recent National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship (NACCE) conference was Gordon Hester who provides consulting for start-ups, particularly focusing on the role of leadership. He commented, and I’ll paraphrase “…I am looking for someone who won’t quit climbing the mountain…someone who will die trying…” Perhaps this was simply a figure of speech, but his voice intonation indicated that one needs to exert more than grit to be successful as an entrepreneur. On a related note, PVCC recently hosted Mr. Louie Lujan, Director of Government Relations at the CIMA Law Group, who spoke to students on life and work lessons learned during his career as an elected official and lobbyist. He reflected on lessons learned from his father about perseverance and hardship with the simple narrative to our students when faced with a challenge “…just get up, keep trying…”

Angela Duckworth, a noted author and psychologist, has written and spoken on the notion of the positive impact of “grit” on learning and success. Although there have been recent challenges to her research, writers still argue that “Students need to learn to keep on working even when the work seems difficult. They need to learn to respond correctly to failure and to overcome obstacles that stand in the way of their goals.”

In the context of the community college space where students come to us with varying levels of confidence, competence and commitment, it is no wonder that we are challenged to discover new and different ways to increase student engagement and success. Additionally, our students respond with varying levels of affirmation to the following two questions: Do you really want to learn this material? And do you believe you have the capacity/ability to actually learn?

No one ever said serving community college students would be easy. Even as we deploy our collective “whys” to the pursuit of student learning and success, our work can seem daunting. At times, when I feel challenged by the curse of Sisyphus, the king of Ephyra in Greek mythology, it is easy, even for a brief moment, to question my own leadership grit and determination. It is then that I remind myself that it is precisely those students who question their desires and capacities to learn that matter the most.