November 1, 2013

As we continue to focus internally on 100% student success at Richard Bland College of William & Mary, it is good to remember the many friends of RBC—including alumni, donors, board members, retirees and elected officials—who so generously contribute their time, expertise and resources toward this goal. At the annual endowed scholarship reception earlier this week, Tim Vass, a recipient of the Patton Scholarship, spoke for all RBC scholarship recipients, saying:


I always had a dream of being able to get a bachelor’s degree in business, and to be somebody that I never thought I could afford to be without this scholarship. It is with tremendous respect and appreciation that I thank all donors for your support in helping us to become the people we dream of being someday.


Witnessing the coming together of scholarship recipients and the donors who make those scholarships possible is a powerful reminder that our day-to-day efforts to provide students the very best educational experience possible—both inside and outside the classroom—represent just one component of a much larger network, all focused on helping students to achieve their dreams.


Advancement and Foundation

In October, two members of the RBC family, longtime Foundation Directors Elvira Shaw and Robert “Rob” Elliott, passed away. Both Elvira and Rob were passionate about the mission of Richard Bland College, and their legacy of service to the College and the community will never be forgotten.


This year’s Fall Cookout on October 22nd was a wonderful event that brought together more than 150 students, alumni, employees and retirees to enjoy an afternoon of food and fellowship on the lawn between the Water Garden and the President’s House. Sincere appreciation goes to Advancement and Property Management staff, and especially to our campus dining provider, Boss-Chi, for their generous sponsorship of this year’s cookout.


Center for Strategic Initiatives

Tyler Hart and the Strategic Initiatives team have recently finalized three major agreements that will expand transfer pathways available to students, including:

  • Longwood University – Guarantee Admission Agreement  and a direct program-to-program transfer agreement in business
  • Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia (CICV) – an umbrella agreement with member institutions
  • Virginia State University – direct program-to-program transfer in agriculture, business, criminal justice, economics, math, political sciences, psychology, public administration, social work, and sociology


Dates for signing ceremonies will soon be announced.


Visit from W&M Representatives

On October 22, Rector Todd Stottlemyer, RBC Chair John Littel and Immediate Past RBC Chair Dennis Liberson visited campus and met with College Council in an open forum. At the meeting, Rector Stottlemyer spoke eloquently about the dramatic changes underway in higher education and, specifically, the implications of these changes both for William & Mary and RBC. He expressed enthusiastic support for the efforts underway at RBC to “think big, act big and be bold” in advancing quality learning outcomes and student success. At the meeting, Board representatives received updates from staff regarding progress to date in achieving RBC-19 goals and objectives, including new program development, capital projects and marketing/communications.


Academic Advising

During this period of transition, and as we cultivate a culture of innovation going forward, we will have many opportunities to test new models and systems in a perpetual quest for quality improvement. For example, this fall there existed a gap to be bridged between RBC 101 (which was discontinued) as a platform for student advising and the anticipated launch of a new, data-driven advising system that will be custom-designed to help students navigate their individual pathways to a baccalaureate degree, i.e., to create their journey.  After gathering input from Interim Dean Fidelman, Enrollment Services staff led by Dr. Blair implemented a temporary student advisement plan for the 2013-2014 year to ensure that all students are provided proper and timely assistance with academic planning and scheduling. Advising has been identified by students as a primary weakness at RBC, with persistent complaints about graduation delays (and decisions not to pursue graduation at all) resulting from confusion regarding program emphases, transferrable versus non-transferable courses (and the implications of a course transferring as an “elective,” not as a requirement toward the major), pre-requisites, program requirements at RBC that do not align with transfer institutions, etc. The “bridge” advising plan now in place offers research-based resources to address documented student concerns and to assist faculty, particularly with first year student advising. In addition, enrollment services staff are conducting group advising sessions to help offset the increased number of advisees assigned to faculty.


Guiding students along their varied academic pathways is a core promise and responsibility of RBC. Therefore, the Dean of Faculty and the VP for Enrollment Services will work collaboratively, involving appropriate faculty, staff and committees, to develop a long-term advising solution that incorporates lessons learned from RBC 101, the “bridge” advising plan and best practices.


Tapping Institutional Leaders

Leaders of Student Assembly, tutors, RAs, the student representative to the W&M Board of Visitors, captains and co-captains of athletic teams, and leaders of recognized campus organizations attended a dinner meeting at the President’s House on October 17. This impressive group of young men and women shared their impressions of life on campus, and they offered thoughtful suggestions for enriching the Richard Bland College experience for future RBC students. Additional meetings—both formal and informal—will be scheduled throughout the remainder of the year. Ongoing dialogue with students about their educational experience is one of the most valuable ways to calibrate our work on their behalf.


In recent weeks I have also met with senior and mid-career faculty to tap the insights and ideas of these seasoned academic leaders. Our discussions have spanned the time continuum (past, present and future), and topics have been relevant and far-ranging. I’m grateful to faculty participants for the benefit of open and candid dialogue, and I look forward to continuing these conversations as we contemplate the long-term (post RBC-19) future of the College. Every institutional leader has a role to play in demonstrating, promoting and passing on the promise and core values of Richard Bland College. I’m especially grateful to those who so ably, gracefully and often quietly assume important, sometimes informal roles as mentors, cultural guides and political navigators for new students and employees alike. Be assured that your leadership does not go unnoticed.


Michael Gasper featured in Style Weekly’s 40 under 40

Our very own adjunct professor Michael Gasper was recently featured in Style Weekly as one of Richmond’s top “40 under 40.” Michael says of his approach to teaching:


I try to engage students to understand society, our dilemmas, and strategies for action.  I encourage students to become leaders and involved in their communities.  This includes taking on the great responsibility, as educated members of society, to go out and educate others (sharing the knowledge others may not have been as fortunate to have receive) and become agents of change.  Further, I challenge students to find their voice within our society and encourage them to stop speaking about society as if it was a place they had visited. This ultimately leads students to a better understanding of their individual role within their larger community.


I commend Professor Gasper’s commitment to the liberal arts mission of Richard Bland College, as well as his impressive social advocacy work in the greater Richmond community.


Influenza Immunization Clinic

Appreciation goes to Ed Snyder and to Deborah Whitacre and her volunteers at the Crater Health District for managing and staffing this year’s flu clinic, to Property Management for preparing the facilities, and to Human Resources and ORL for advertising. A total of 37 flu shots were administered to 10 students and 27 employees.


Welcome Sarah E. Melchior

Sarah Melchior, a Post Graduate Fellow in the Office of the Attorney General, will be assisting W&M and RBC Legal Counsel, Deb Love, in providing legal services to RBC this year. Sarah graduated cum laude in May 2013 from the William & Mary School of Law. Sarah will be on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays in the President’s Office.