January 31, 2013

Dear Colleagues:


Thanks to tremendous effort on the part of Tyler Hart and every member of the campus community who actively engaged in and contributed to the extensive strategic planning efforts that took place in the fall, we began the New Year and the spring semester with a draft of Richard Bland College’s five-year strategic plan in place and ready for review, refinement and completion. To that end, last week we hosted a series of forums to review and discuss the draft plan with retirees, university partners, local employers, elected officials, area K-12 leaders, alumni and donors. We have also received considerable feedback from members of the campus community. The overall initial reaction to the draft plan—from internal and external stakeholders alike—has been very positive, affirming the effectiveness of the planning process in tapping the collective “best thinking” of RBC stakeholders about how to proceed in positioning the College for future success in fulfilling its distinctive mission within Virginia’s public institutions of higher education. The insightful feedback received to date will now be used to revise the draft plan to be presented to the William and Mary Board of Visitors at their regularly scheduled meeting next week. Following the Board’s review and input, a draft plan will be posted online. Additional feedback from alumni, students, employees and other stakeholders is encouraged and welcome.


Shared Governance
Faculty Senate convened its first meeting on January 29, and the inaugural meeting of College Council is scheduled for February 5. College Committees will be convened once all representatives have been elected and appointed, at which time the infrastructure for shared governance will be fully operational … and just in time to facilitate a final internal review of the College’s strategic plan, as well as a review of the resource allocation plan for supporting established strategic goals. In general, College Council and Committees will be actively engaged throughout the spring semester in preparing for operationalization of RBC’s strategic plan in the coming academic year.


Institutional Advancement
Inspired by Richard Bland College’s mission and its commitment to academic excellence, Raymond Burdine Norton, Jr. bequeathed to RBC $20,000 to be used for the purchase of library books dealing with Virginia History and United States History to 1877. On behalf of the entire College community, I have extended our appreciation to Mr. Norton’s sister, Emma Norton Parker, for this generous and thoughtful gift from her brother who passed away in 2011, a gift that will be used to advance scholarship and learning at RBC for many generations to come.


Even though the project has just begun, Tom Burton, with significant support from Jacqueline Bryant, Lois Wray and the Registrar’s team, has already made significant progress in transitioning the College to a comprehensive fund raising management platform, Raiser’s Edge. To date, more than 11,000 alumni have been identified, and we expect by mid-March to be able to communicate with these alumni and thereby begin the important process of reconnecting them with their alma mater. The opportunities ahead for engaging alumni in the life and future of Richard Bland College are tremendously exciting.


Campus Wi-Fi
Thanks to project manager Debra James and the ITS team, the two-phase project to provide a mobile-device friendly environment for students, employees and visitors is now complete. The first phase was to increase bandwidth to the campus six-fold to ensure that the network has the capacity to support the many wireless mobile devices students have come to rely upon. The second phase was to complete infrastructure upgrades, including network equipment, programming, cabling and installation of wireless access points in all academic and administrative buildings. I applaud the efforts of the ITS team upon the successful completion of a project that was identified in the fall as a priority by students and employees alike.


Emergency Preparedness

The Governor’s Office annually conducts an assessment to measure the overall level of preparedness in physical security, continuity of operations planning, IT security, document protection, human resources preparedness, training, and interoperable communications. Agency preparedness reports were recently released, and I am pleased to report that Richard Bland College’s rating indicates a high level of emergency preparedness. In fact, the score has risen from 55.05 out of a possible 100 in 2008 to this year’s score of 94. I commend Ed Snyder and all who support continuous improvement in the emergency preparedness of RBC.



Seamless Pathways to the Baccalaureate
Syracuse University Professor Eileen Strempel who is a specialist in two-year/four-year guaranteed admission and articulation agreements made considerable progress while on campus last week in identifying and advancing new linkages with four-year and university partners, including UVA, VCU, VSU, Longwood, Liberty and Virginia’s Independent Colleges and Universities.


As of January 25, Richard Bland College students are guaranteed admission into the VCU School of Clinical Laboratory Sciences. This 2 +2 agreement will allow students with a cumulative 3.0 GPA and the given prerequisite courses at RBC to transfer directly into the VCU School of Clinical Laboratory Sciences to complete a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Laboratory Sciences.


Clinical lab science is a rapidly growing field, and many of the current graduates of the program go on to pursue graduate degrees in the health sciences. As you will note in the strategic plan, we will work diligently to continue to develop this type of agreement with VCU and other partner institutions.


Connecting a Treasured Past to a Transcendent Future
With sincere gratitude to staff members and professors who so graciously offered to volunteer their time and service to plan and execute a presidential inauguration in April, given pressing budgetary concerns and sundry other College priorities, I simply cannot in good conscience justify the investment of College resources (time and money) that would be required to proceed with an inaugural event. Therefore, at the February 7-9 meeting, I intend to request that in lieu of an inauguration ceremony, the Board of Visitors mark my presidency by supporting a special fund raising campaign to be launched this spring that will celebrate Richard Bland College’s past as well as its future through contributions to an Academic Innovation and Excellence fund. The inaugural theme that the campus community favored—Connecting a Treasured Past to a Transcendent Future—will serve as the theme for this important campaign in support of RBC’s core mission of teaching and learning.


Finally, congratulations to Tyler Hart on the birth of his first child, Ruby Elizabeth. And congratulations to all members of the Richard Bland College family who celebrated an employment anniversary in January, including:


  • Debra Seidel and Dorrie Smith           1 year
  • Steve Nesbitt                                           2 years
  • Casey Blankenship and Jill Mitten     5 years
  • Jason Collins                                            9 years
  • Ralph Ketchum                                       12 years
  • Jacqueline Bryan and Ester Floyd      15 years


Thanks to each of you for working every day to provide an outstanding learning environment for all RBC students!