Further Learning From Aspen Top 150 Distinction

As we continue to look at PVCC’s student success data used in determining our selection in the Aspen Top 150 Community Colleges, it is critically important to look at the completion rates of our part-time students. Aspen defined this cohort as the percentage of first-time and non-first-time, part-time degree/certificate seeking students in the fall semester that complete any formal award (certificate or Associate degree) within 8 years. Below is where PVCC falls:

National Community College Average PVCC  Aspen Top 150 Median
21.8% 17.0% 27.9%

While the earlier reported PVCC student data focusing on full-time students showed us exceeding the national community college rates in all categories and exceeding the Aspen Top 150 in two out of the three categories, clearly there are opportunities for improvement in the overall completion rates of our part-time students. 

The Aspen Institute also takes into account another student success factor – graduation rates of Pell recipients. Below is where PVCC falls:

National Community College Average PVCC Aspen Top 150 Median
26.4% 22.2% 35.6%

As you can see the level of student success in the Top 150 community colleges in the nation is extremely competitive. I share this additional information as it informs our work with part-time and students on financial aid. As we prepare to “roll out” our updated SEM Plan, implement the teaching and learning strategies gleaned from our HLC Quality Initiative, and use the 4DX operational model to improve student success, we need to be extra focused on these two student populations. 

Our aspiration to become one of the Aspen Top 10 will only be achieved through a more holistic approach to student success beyond the full-time student experience.

PVCC’s Dr. Versha Anderson Receives Diversity Leadership Award

I am very pleased to share that Dr. Versha Anderson recently was awarded the Diversity Leadership Alliance’s  Diversity Leader Award. This award recognizes excellence in leading sustainable change around diversity, equity and inclusion. It is Dr. Anderson’s convincing and passionate leadership that distinguished her among all of the nominees. As you may be aware, Dr. Anderson was appointed as PVCC’s first Director of Diversity Equity, Inclusion and Engagement. 

Allow me to share several excerpts from one of her letters of support for this award.

As a result of the social unrest prompted by the murders of  Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, Dr. Anderson initiated a series of affinity group town hall meetings in order for college leaders to listen with intent and empathy for understanding of our diverse faculty, staff, student and community member constituency groups. From the beginning Dr. Anderson expected that these were not just meant to be “listening” sessions, but made clear that the college would be held accountable to act on what was learned. To this end, she convened a group of approximately fifty faculty and staff members as the Take Action College Team (TACT). The team then broke down into a number of working groups focusing on the following topics in the context of diversity, equity and inclusion: hiring and onboarding of new employees; professional development, curriculum development, and campus climate. 

Throughout the summer of 2020 and through the entire 2020-2021 academic year, Dr. Anderson led the work of the TACT group. As a result of her cumulative efforts, a significant Action Plan was developed and submitted to the college leadership team for implementation. In addition to the items noted above the Plan addressed: program review, DEIE reporting, advocacy/mentoring, scholarship, and events/programs. What is most impressive is the systemic approach and set of recommendations that have emerged on the campus. While there have been process improvements, perhaps the most impressive outcome has been the impact on the culture of the college. Most recently, she has led an immersive effort to renew the college core values – demonstrative of the far reaching impact that a focus on diversity, equity and inclusion can impact the ultimate student success outcomes of the college

Please join me in congratulating Dr. Versha Anderson for the Diversity Leadership Alliance’s Diversity Leader Award. As we all know, leading efforts on the DEIE front is not for the “faint of heart.”  Her courage and steadfast commitment, often in a culture of hesitancy and resistance, is simply remarkable. I am so pleased that she is part of the PVCC leadership team.