December 28, 2013

I trust that you’re enjoying a peaceful and rejuvenating holiday break. Now as we approach the New Year and prepare to launch the 2014 spring semester with a collective focus on student success, the proposed 2015-2016 biennial budget recently released by Governor McDonnell provides significant incentives for RBC-19 and specific initiatives contained therein that are intended to improve institutional performance. A brief summary of incremental increases for RBC in the 2015-2016 biennium follows:

  • $532,321 – specific operating initiatives to improve academic and co-curricular programming
  • $200,000 – financial aid funding to enhance affordability
  • $487,304 – enrollment growth funding
  • $303,440 – degree incentives to improve access and retention, completion and efficiency
  • Salary bonus (possible 2% + 1%) – provided certain conditions are met, including employee performance
  • General increases in support of the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA), the Veterans Consortium, the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing (CCAM), etc.

Relative to RBC’s big goal of 100% student success, it is important to note that degree incentives is the single largest component of the Governor’s higher education funding package. It recognizes and rewards institutions for performance, i.e., student access, retention and completion. The Governor’s proposed 2015-2016 biennial budget affirms that the direction and strategic goals that we have set for Richard Bland College (RBC-19) are in accordance with the strategic goals of the Commonwealth.


Faculty Retreat

I am very pleased by the strong response to the Faculty Retreat scheduled to be held at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens on January 9th. Dr. Lindquist has put together a substantive agenda for the day, and I will be there briefly to bring greetings and then leave Faculty Senate to consider the future of our college curriculum relative to RBC-19.


I have asked Dr. Lindquist to draft a white paper that outlines and details the specific strategies the faculty recommend as best methods to fulfill our mission and promise to “prepare students for university transfer through academically rigorous programs … and to expand access to college credentials through strategic partnerships, specialized programming and scalable innovation.” He will coordinate his findings from the retreat with those of the committees that have already begun this dialogue in accordance with Year One of RBC-19 implementation. I believe it is not too strong a hope that by combining the work of the committees and your work at this retreat, we can reach a watershed moment for the renewal and enhancement of academic programs at Richard Bland College.


By now you should have received the Faculty Retreat agenda from Dr. Lindquist. Please contact Lashrecse Aird with any logistical questions.


Center for Strategic Initiatives

In January, Aimee Joyaux will join the Center for Strategic Initiatives team as an Instructional Designer. Aimee comes to Richard Bland College after serving most recently as Vice President for Arts Education at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. Her expertise will be invaluable to the SI Center and the College in advancing academic portfolio enhancement and instructional innovation in accordance with goals established in RBC-19.

Richard Bland College Foundation

At their December meeting, the Foundation heard from two alumni, Allison Taylor and Michael Winn, both of whom were Virginia K. Patton Scholarship recipients and are now 3rdyear students at William and Mary. Allison who is majoring in Kinesiology and Health Sciences described her experience as a non-traditional student, and she praised Professor Frank Morgan who inspired and encouraged her to succeed at RBC. Michael, who currently serves as an intern at the Muscarelle Museum of Art and is an Art & Art History Major, told the Board that it was Professors Schrader and Delano who influenced his decision to study art history. Both Allison and Michael spoke passionately about their educational experience at Richard Bland College.


The Foundation Board also received an update about the Annual Fund campaign, which seeks to raise $150,000 in support of Richard Bland College. Dr. Davis will follow up soon with additional information.


Visit from Secretary of Education Javaid Siddiqi

Earlier this month I was pleased to host Javaid Siddiqi, RBC Alumnus and Secretary of Education for the Commonwealth of Virginia, who spent time in conversation with Faculty Senate, Student Assembly and staff during his visit to campus. Secretary Siddiqi’s candid assessment of current issues affecting higher education in Virginia and his clear message to the campus community about expectations for institutional accountability and performance were most timely. Like so many other RBC alumni, Secretary Siddiqi’s dedication to public and community service is exemplary.


Community Service Projects

I commend the many students and employees who are demonstrating the spirit of giving during this holiday season through a variety of projects, including:


Hope for the Holidays Brittany Davis and Emily Burnett began a campus wide collection drive on December 2 to assist the Petersburg Women’s Care Shelter for abused women and children.


Outcast Project – Ashley Barnhouse, Caitlyn Daniels and Julian Rodgers started a ministry through Smyrna Baptist Church to help the homeless in the Richmond and Petersburg communities. This past November they filled gallon-sized plastic bags with granola bars, water bottles, gloves, and other items that will help people throughout the winter months. They also sponsored a coat and blanket drive.

Appreciation also goes to Dr. Barbara Morgan who hosted a wonderful horse-assisted teambuilding event for faculty and staff at the Morgan farm earlier this month. All who participated enjoyed the activities, the food, the camaraderie and the wonderful hospitality of Drs. Barbara and Frank Morgan. Also, I am also pleased to note that Barbara was recently notified that her research proposal in support of becoming an Equine Growth and Learning Association (EAGALA) Certified Therapist was funded by a Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) grant.


I look forward to working with you to advance RBC’s mission and goals in support of 100% student success in 2014. Happy New Year!