November 13, 2008

Greetings all,

Welcome to issue number six of “What’s On My Mind?” This week in particular, there are a number of PVCC issues and challenges weighing heavy on my mind. It has become abundantly clear to me given the state of the economy and our systemic reliance on local and state market forces for our financial survival, that our organizational decision-making must become critically more insightful. PVCC is currently facing a number of significant decisions including: operational budget, capital (construction and technology) allocations, and student success strategies that will directly impact the state of this college for the next three to five years. So let me see if I can tie our college themes of leadership for: student success, community building, bringing learning alive and positive social change- to this stream of thought on insightful decision making.

Let me start by making several operating assumptions: 1) the district funding formula will continue to be based on a FTSE allocation model; 2) under the current model, the single biggest financial lever is to recruit and retain students; 3) in an environment where active and engaged student learning is a systemic norm, retention measures simply become a footnote; and 4) active and engaged student learning results in student success measures that can be framed by the common factors of successful course completion, course sequence completion, and certificate and degree completion – knowing that the lowest success denominator will be driven by student goals and personal intent.

You have read that we are in the process of making operational budget decisions over the next two fiscal years that will at minimum reduce our current operating budget by $470,000 this year and $300,000 next year. This does not include the $540,000 loss in state capital funds. In addition, the Capital Development Committee is wrestling with aligning the remaining bond funds to project budgets that far exceed the existing dollars.

The sole purpose of operating and capital funds are to create environments where students have the greatest probability of learning and at minimum successfully completing their current goals – if not increasing their aspirations to loftier sights. If we don’t exercise insightful decision-making over the next several months, we could actually be setting the operational stage for decreasing student success which will in turn, over the long run, decrease our funds thus creating a spiral in the wrong direction.

Simply stated insightful decision making is achieved by: bringing the best college thinkers to the table; engaging in genuine conversation and inquiry using valid and meaningful information; and having the courage to critically measure and apply decisions leading to disciplined innovation and risk taking.

While these thoughts weigh heavy on my mind, I am optimistic that PVCC has the right processes in place and the right people at the table. We need to get better at marrying inquiry (use of meaningful information) with decisions that lead to disciplined innovation. PVCC has always been able to turn challenges into opportunities and I am confident that we are on the verge of making some very good decisions that will in turn lead to greater student success. After all, our enrollment growth this fall is an indication of a series of good college decisions that has increased student access.

All burdens associated with making difficult budget decisions are lessened when we tie back into the notion that exemplary teaching and learning leads to greater student success that in turns leads to higher levels of course and program completion. Under the current fiscal model we are rewarded for higher levels of student success. More importantly, increased student success resulting in students leaving PVCC capable and willing to solve some of our very complex business, social, health care, educational, and community issues is the real reason why we will get our budget decisions right.

Have a great week.


Paul Dale, Ed.D.
Interim President