Author Archives: Susan Hayden


Virginia’s Community Colleges are on break for the holidays.  Look forward to blogging at in January 2009!


Virginia’s Community Colleges appearing nationally

News about Virginia’s Community Colleges is spreading.

This week, we were mentioned in the Wall Street Journal online — as well as several business wire services — for  our emphasis on transfers as a way to mitigate against higher education cost increases:

Like many states, Virginia saw the financial wisdom of channeling more in-state students to community colleges for their first two years of higher education – rather than building or vastly expanding costlier four-year schools – by promising automatic transfers into its state universities with a minimum grade-point average.

The result: Community-college graduates can even gain automatic entry into the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, one of the top public universities in the country. The program has proven especially valuable for underachieving high-school students who upon proving themselves capable in community college can complete their bachelor’s degree at state universities for which their high-school transcripts would have denied them access.

“Word of the guaranteed-transfer agreements we have with 30 public and private four-year schools is only now beginning to penetrate into the marketplace,” Kraus says. “We think it’s going to become incredibly popular even after the economy recovers.”

And Mountain Empire Community College and Patrick Henry Community College were both mentioned in recent news stories about the Gates Foundation and their grants to help students complete college, due to their successes in the Lumina Foundation’s Achieving the Dream project.

The Chronicle of Philanthropy commends MECC for “a strategy that works,” with a fast-paced remedial mathematics program resulting in a 60 percent pass rate, compared to 27 percent in standards classes.

The Raleigh News & Observer noted that Achieving the Dream helps reduce dropout rates in remedial classes in PHCC as well. Gates Foundation funds will help the Achieving the Dream project continue.

Meanwhile back in Virginia, the city of Roanoke’s guarantee of a free tuition at VWCC for city students with a grade point average of 2.0 is designed to boost high school graduation rates and give students an opportunity to begin a college career. Here’s VWCC President Bobby Sandel’s editorial blog on the topic published in the Roanoke Times. And other colleges are being noted for record enrollments this fall, including J. Sargeant Reynolds (Fox NEWS) and Wytheville Community College (Bland County Messenger) .

— posted by Susan Hayden

Scholarship carries more “weight” than paperweight

Americans spend November in a spirit of Thanksgiving. So it’s fitting that Virginia’s Community Colleges spent November in a spirit of thanks, too.

Earlier this month, the foundation on behalf of Virginia’s Community Colleges made a special, surprise announcement and gift  — the Eva T. Hardy Endowed Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship.

Spearheaded by friends and colleagues who wanted to thank her for her years of service to the Commonwealth, the gift represents a lasting legacy that will provide higher education opportunity to future Virginians.

As Governor Baliles said in a video tribute to Mrs. Hardy – “an engraved paperweight or plaque just didn’t seem enough.”

Here’s Governor Baliles: 

And here’s the honor roll of Virginians who supported the scholarship effort: 

As just one of her many civic, philanthropic and corporate activities, Mrs. Hardy has served as a member of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, helping steer a group dedicated to increasing the availability of higher education opportunity for all Virginians.

She spoke at the recent Annual Meeting of Virginia’s Community Colleges, reflecting on the beginnings of the Virginia Community College System and the “remarkable political achievement” it represented.  In today’s climate — just like in the 1960s when the system was created — she said:

we must act upon the conditions and make the case for what community colleges do for Virginia. These schools are the portal through which Virginia reaches the world…and through which the world reaches Virginia.

The scholarship in Eva T. Hardy’s name will continue to open the door of opportunity, and be a living legacy for a model of public service to Virginia.

Community colleges boosting nursing ranks

The increases in numbers of new nurses graduating from Virginia’s Community Colleges is so impressive that Governor Kaine wanted everyone to know about it.

In a news release Friday, Governor Kaine applauded the increase and the partnership with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association that is helping make it happen.

In 2005, VHHA and Virginia’s Community Colleges collaborated on a taskforce report that said more than 20,000 new nurses would be needed by 2010.  Since 2003, the percentage of new nurses graduating from Virginia’s Community College has increased 67 percent.

Virginia’s community colleges are educating nearly half of Virginia’s new nurses every year.

— Posted by Susan Hayden

Thirty new Legacy Scholars show power of potential

A new group of Commonwealth Legacy Scholars was honored today.

Thirty new young community college students, many of whom would otherwise not be pursing higher education.

They heard from Hugh Gouldthorpe, author of I’ve Always Looked up to Giraffes, about how to set their sights high.

Former Commonwealth Legacy Scholar Jacquelene Whelchel, who received one of the first scholarships in 2006, and has now transferred to the University of Mary Washington, who told the new scholarship recipients that community college is where opportunity begins.

More than $350,000, helping more than 100 students, has now been distributed as part of the Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship Program – the first statewide scholarship initiative sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.

As the new leaders begin to realize their own potential, the value of this investment in the future begins to show.

Community college events help boost voter rolls

MECC StudentsNew voters have been signing up “in droves” at a number of voter registration events held at Virginia’s Community Colleges, area newspapers report.

With Virginia expected to register more new voters than ever before this fall, Virginia Community Colleges have been the sites for a number of voter registration drive events at colleges. 

The Rock the Vote organization as been at Mountain Empire (Mountain Empire Community College lets good times roll with voter …Kingsport Times News –Sep 10, 2008); Virginia Highlands (Students rock the vote Southwest Virginia Today –Sep 30, 2008) and other colleges. Reality show celebrity Jose Tapia visited J. Sargeant  Reynolds last week for a forum with students (Young voters seen as key to turnout – Richmond Times Dispatch –Sep 29, 2008)

Community colleges have always been key in grass-roots election campaigns.  When higher education bonds are on the agenda, as in 1992 and 2002, local networking through community colleges often pushes those measures over the top.

In the Kingsport Times News, a Mountain Empire student said:

“A lot of young people don’t understand their votes matter…” said Emily Allen, wearing a Rock the Vote T-shirt splattered with Rock the Vote stickers. “We have to know that we have the power to influence how our future goes. We need to recognize, we do have a voice.”

The deadline to register to vote in Virginia is Monday, Oct. 6.

Google Apps for Education comes to Virginia Community College Students

Students at Virginia’s Community Colleges have a new benefit this week:  their student email is now provided by Gmail as part of a suite of Google applications imlemented by Information Technology Services.

The move, which replaces the former student email package, offers gigabytes of email storage in a reliable and familiar email interaface — but that’s just part of the deal. Students now have to Google Calendar, Google Talk for instant messaging, Google Docs for real-time collaboration on documents and projects, and Google Sites, where students can create their own websites.

Better and improved services — and a huge cost savings — make it a no-brainer for an enterprise-wide implementation, says Matt Lawson, director of enterprise services for the VCCS.

Many higher education institutions are leaving behind old email programs in favor of working with Google Apps-Education Edition, including the University of Virginia.  The trend is spreading to community colleges as well.

With more than 300,000 student accounts, Virginia’s Community Colleges will become one of the largest implementations of the service.

The migration from the previous email was done over the weekend, and was completely seamless. Monday when they signed in, they had all their mail in Gmail.

One small (not) benefit:  all the benefits of Gmail, none of the advertising.

It’s a strong move.

Posted by Susan Hayden