August 19, 2013

On every college campus, the start of a new academic year tends to evoke a feeling of anticipation, excitement and hope among students and, indeed, all of us who have been entrusted with their education. It’s a fresh start, a clean slate and a brand new opportunity to rise to the challenge of educating—and supporting the education of those who have been admitted and enrolled at Richard Bland College. At our best, we embrace the challenge and the responsibility to contribute in every way possible to the quality and caliber of an educational experience that will lead to graduation and successful transfer for these individuals—our students—each of whom brings unique experiences, perspectives and talents to the learning engagement. I trust that you are as eager as I am to begin the 2013-2014 academic year by welcoming new and returning students, commuter and residential students, students enrolled in pre-college math and English, Honors students and student-athletes to the magnificent Richard Bland College campus.


This year’s incoming class—the Class of 2015—brings a higher overall GPA and record of academic achievement than last year’s freshmen. Looking specifically at our inaugural group of more than 40 Honors students, among the 70% who are members of the incoming class, the average high school GPA is 3.83, and 90% have completed high school honors, AP or dual credit coursework. It will take time, effort and ongoing vigilance, but I am confident that with close attention to aligning admissions standards with the unique mission, vision and goals of the College—and by consistently adhering to those standards—we will continue to see improvements in overall academic preparedness and ultimately in the retention and academic success of our students.


This summer, a six-year budget proposal to achieve RBC-19 goals was presented to state officials, including the Secretary of Education, SCHEV, and General Assembly staff and elected officials. Thanks to a tremendous team effort, the RBC budget proposal is custom-designed to build and deliver the resources needed to achieve the mission, vision and goals that were collaboratively developed by RBC stakeholders and approved by the William & Mary Board of Visitors in the spring of 2013. Importantly, the focus of this multi-year budget proposal is squarely on funding excellence and ongoing innovation in our educational programming and delivery. In essence, we are tasked to abandon business as usual across all functions and departments if past practices are not yielding acceptable educational outcomes for our students. For each and every one of us, this means that going forward our focus and our goal—whatever role or job title we hold—is 100% STUDENT SUCCESS.


This goal may seem naïvely optimistic, overly aggressive and/or daunting, and obviously it’s an aspirational goal, but at a time when public higher education is challenged by the multiple ‘publics’ that we serve to produce better outcomes with fewer resources, we have no choice but to step up, be creative and deliver results. According to a recent report from Moody’s Investors Service, “2012 was just foreshadowing the difficult financial future that public colleges will continue to face…the data overall put public colleges on a path to economic oblivion. ‘The developing trend of expense growth outpacing revenue growth is unsustainable.’”


At Richard Bland College, investments—both public and private—will continue to be directed to the bottom line of student success. We don’t need the best office furniture or equipment or vehicles. We do need the best faculty and staff. We need people who live the brand promise, the mission and the values of Richard Bland College every day. Because what we’re going to provide our students is the best, most cohesive educational experience possible. We’re going to fulfill our promise to students upon admission, which is to ensure that they graduate with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed when they transfer and ultimately enter the workplace. We’re going to abandon silos and, in a shared governance environment, consistently work together as a cohesive network and learning community with a singular goal. 100% STUDENT SUCCESS.


I look forward to seeing you on Friday at the College Convocation in McNeer Atrium at 9:00 a.m., and I extend best wishes for the academic year ahead.