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Virginia’s Community Colleges are Achieving the Dream
In 2004, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) joined the Achieving the Dream student success initiative – a multiyear national initiative aimed to influence state and national policy to increase the success of community college students.
Five of VCCS’s 23 campuses joined the initiative; however they wanted to increase the focus of student success on all campuses – not just the ones that joined. In the beginning they struggled to get the initiative off the ground, and VCCS Chancellor Glenn Dubois realized that they needed higher-level leadership for this initiative – they needed someone to champion it. Monty Sullivan was hired as vice-chancellor for academic services and was assigned to lead this initiative. Shortly after, a core state team for Achieving the Dream was created that included top decision makers. Updates on the progress of the initiative were brought to the college presidents, vice presidents, and academic and student affairs council. They wanted to spread the word, and share resources, as much as possible.
Since 2004, VCCS has been successful in working the program and “Achieving the Dream” – they have made student success a priority. In August 2009, VCCS committed to the following over the next five years:
· VCCS will boost by 50 percent the number of students graduating, transferring to four-year institutions or completing a workforce credential.
· VCCS pledges to increase by 75 percent the success of students from underserved populations, that is, minority, low-income, or first-generation college students.
One of the most important outcomes from the initiative has been “the way we talk about student success,” Gretchen Schmidt, Director of Education Policy, VCCS, said. “When you have board members talking about student success, it has permeated your culture.”
To learn more about VCCS’s engagement with the Achieving the Dream Initiative, go to: Altered State: How the Virginia Community College System Has Used Achieving the Dream to Improve Student Success.
Learn more about Achieving the Dream.