Category Archives: Campus Safety

Gov. Kaine submits budget amendments

Governor Tim Kaine released today his amendments to legislation passed by the General Assembly during the 2008 session, including amendments to the 2008-2010 budget.   A summary of Kaine’s amendments are contained in this press release.  There were 41 budget amendments, including some exchange between general funds and the Virginia College Building Authority for VCCS projects, and language clarifying the salary differential for Northern Virginia Community College Faculty.

Amendments must be approved by a majority of each house of the General Assembly.  The General Assembly comes back to consider the Governor’s amendments on April 23.

Posted by Ellen Davenport

 

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Governor Kaine signs mental health legislation

Governor Timothy Kaine signed omnibus mental health bills in a special ceremony Wednesday, representing a renewed focus on – and significant investments in – the mental health system in the Commonwealth after last year’s tragedy at Virginia Tech.

“Working with members of the General Assembly, we will make significant investments in our mental health system and the bills before me today will establish standards for the system and increase accountability,” the Governor said.

The bills will make it easier for Virginians to receive treatment for mental health issues, allow more information sharing among providers, require closer monitoring of people in community based treatment and expand criteria under which a mentally ill person can be barred from buying guns, according to the Washington Post today.

Some of the bills (and some already signed by the Governor) specify additional planning and procedures for higher education institutions to prevent future tragedies. Virginia’s Community Colleges got a head start on emergency preparedness with a task force on emergency preparedness that published a report in January.

State Board Accepts VCCS Campus Safety Report

The Virginia State Board for Community Colleges accepted the community colleges campus safety report created by a special VCCS task force.  You can read a press release and follow a link to the entire report here.

The task force was created in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting last April.

While the issue of weapons on campus is emotional, controversial and high-profile, it is only one of the many issues addressed in the report’s 40 recommendations.

“I appreciate the leadership and hard work of the panel members,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We serve two out of every three undergraduate students attending public colleges in Virginia and they’re all commuter students.  We serve them in 5.7 million square feet of instructional space in 224 buildings located on our 40 campuses in urban, suburban and rural settings. Our sheer size and diversity make campus safety a challenge while underscoring its priority.”

The report focuses a great deal on streamlining the campus safety information that is required in different forms by dozens of government agencies; the need for a high-tech and low-tech layered approach to communications in an emergency; and the need and benefit for a single point of contact, on each college campus, to coordinate emergency planning and preparedness efforts.

Posted by Jeff Kraus

General Assembly Begins Tomorrow!

2008 General Assembly Session Overview 

The General Assembly of Virginia will convene on January 9 at 12:00 noon.  Facing the bodies will be passage of the “caboose” budget bill for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2008 and Governor Tim Kaine’s proposed $78 billion budget for the 2008-2010 biennium.  The specter hovering over both budget bills will be a slowdown in the economy driven by the slump in the housing industry, causing Kaine to recommend a reduction in the current budget with over $300 million in cuts and $303 million from the “Rainy Day” fund.   Any transfer from the “Rainy Day ” fund will be controversial and must be approved by the General Assembly.

Issues facing legislators include reforming Virginia’s mental health system and potentially making policy with regard to guns on campuses in the wake of last April’s tragic incident at Virginia Tech, establishing pre-school for all 4-year-olds who qualify for free and reduced lunch, re-benchmarking of the Standards of Quality, tackling immigration (especially related to admission to Virginia’s institutions of higher education), restricting payday loans, and revisiting the  2007 session’s decisions on how to finance the transportation system. 

The Governor’s $1.65 million general obligation bond package, announced Dec. 13, contains $340 million for 28 community college projects, 23 of which are at each of Virginia’s community colleges. 

New Committee Chairs 

A Democratic majority will assume power in the Senate, while House Republicans maintain the majority in the House of Delegates.   Both the House and Senate will have some restructuring, as committee chairmanships will change and membership will be realigned.  These changes will be formally established tomorrow.  All chairmanships of Senate committees will be assumed by new leadership; Senate chairmanships were contained in the Dec. 11 post.  The following chairmanships (with five new committee chairs) have been announced in the House of Delegates:

Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources–Harvey B. Morgan (R–Gloucester
Appropriations–Lacey E. Putney (I–Bedford)
Commerce and Labor–Terry G. Kilgore (R–Scott)
Counties, Cities and Towns–Riley E. Ingram (R–Hopewell)
Courts of Justice–David B. Albo (R–Fairfax)
Education–Robert Tata (R–Virginia Beach)
Finance–Harry R. “Bob” Purkey (R–Virginia Beach)
General Laws–Terrie L. Suit (R–Virginia Beach)
Health, Welfare and Institutions–Phillip A. Hamilton (R–Newport News)
Militia, Police and Public Safety–Beverly J. Sherwood (R–Frederick)
Privileges and Elections–Mark L. Cole (R–Spotsylvania)
Science and Technology–Kathy J. Byron (R–Lynchburg)
Rules–Speaker of the House William J. Howell (R–Stafford)
Transportation–Joe T. May (R–Loudoun)

Legislation Impacting Virginia’s Community Colleges 

The 2008 session will feature a myriad of bills of interest to Virginia’s community colleges.  The VCCS will maintain an active weblink to bills that have been identified that are of interest to Virginia’s community colleges.   Please stay tuned to this web log throughout the 2008 General Assembly session as updates will be posted continuously.

Transfer GrantsSB 148 has been filed by Senator Walter Stosch, the patron of the 2007 Transfer Grant legislation.  SB 148 will allow students who were enrolled in the summer of 2007 to take advantage of community college transfer grants.  (The bill that passed in 2007 applied the scholarship grant money to students who began at community colleges during the fall 2007 semester).

Scholarship Match legislation.  Three bills have been filed to enact the concept of a community college scholarship match program, and more are expected.  SB 125 (Edwards),  HB 117 (Landes),  and HB 512 (Dance) will increase access to higher education for 3,333 new Virginians.  The legislation will provide matching funds from the Commonwealth of Virginia to community college foundations and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education on a dollar for dollar basis up to an annual amount of $5 million per year.  The state match will correspond to every dollar donated by private individuals, foundations, or corporations after July 1, 2008. 

Posted by Ellen Davenport

Final Campus Safety Hearing

Just as a reminder, the last of three public hearings on campus safety will be held tonight at Virginia Western Community College.  Here’s the brief in the Roanoke Times this morning.

A task force assigned to study campus safety in Virginia’s community college system will hold a public meeting Thursday evening at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke. The meeting, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. will be held in the auditorium of the Business Science Building.

The task force, made up of officials from the state’s community colleges, was formed in May to study emergency preparedness and response plans at the 40 campuses in Virginia.

The panel is also studying how to apply to community colleges the lessons from the report prepared for Gov. Tim Kaine on the Virginia Tech shootings. It will present its findings early next year to the Virginia Community College State Board.

Thursday’s meeting is the last in a series of three public meetings held this week throughout the state

Posted by Susan Hayden

Counseling Resorces and Concealed Weapons Dominate First Campus Safety Public Hearing

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The Chancellor’s campus safety taskforce held its first public hearing this evening at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

Two main issues dominated the comments made to the panel:  counseling resources and the posession of concealed weapons on campus.

A psychiatric nursing teacher talked about the challenges of helping students who are in need of counseling – but the processes and resources simply don’t exist to assist them.  “The school of nursing is stressful, “she said.  “We’ve had a student commit suicide after threatening faculty members.  What should we do?  Our hands are tied.”

A leader of the Citizens Defense League urged the panel to pursue only policies that would allow students, faculty and staff members over the age of 21, who have obtained handgun training and a concealed carry permit to carry their guns on campus.  “You should be allowed to save yourself,” he said.  “No one should be expelled or fired for carrying a gun.  Adults shouldn’t be put in a place to die.”

That drew a response a response from a former U.S. Marine turned community college student. “I have a concealed carry permit but this is a learning environment,” she said.  “I don’t want to know that twenty people can just open fire if something happens.  Not everyone is accurate.”

Additional speakers also touched on the need for the police and security forces of Virginia’s 23 Community Colleges to communicate better and share best practices and retaining student records longer than currently done.

The taskforce next meets Tuesday, October 9 at Northern Virginia Community College’s Annandale Campus at the Ernst Center, in the Forum.  The meeting will occur from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm.  The session will begin with a brief welcome and introduction from the taskforce and then focus on public comments.  To ensure as many people as possible can speak to the taskforce, a time limit may be placed on individual comments.

If you would like to send comments to the taskforce, you can do via a dedicated email address:  myvoice@vccs.edu.

Posted by Jeff Kraus

REMINDER: Campus Safety Public Hearings begin today at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College

The first of this week’s three public hearings of the Chancellor’s campus safety taskforce takes place tonight at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College.

The meeting will take place from 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm at the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College’s Parham Road Campus, Building B, Room 101 (the Gallery).  The session will begin with a brief welcome and introduction from the taskforce and then focus on public comments.  To ensure as many people as possible can speak to the taskforce, a time limit may be placed on individual comments.

 

The meetings are open to students and parents, faculty and staff, and the public.

 

You can get more details about the panels and the open hearings, read this VCCS news release.

 

If you would like to offer comments to the taskforce, but cannot attend the hearing, you can email your thoughts to myvoice@vccs.edu – a dedicated email address established for this purpose.

 

The taskforce, later this week, will also hold open hearings at Northern Virginia Community College and Virginia Western Community College.

 

Update: The Fredericksburg Free Lance Star has a feature story today on Dr. David Sam, the new president of Germanna Community College and one of the taskforce co-chairs.  Dr.  Sam is an impressive guy who knows a thing or two about emergency preparedness after helping to rebuild Pensacola Junior College after it was battered by a Level 3 Hurricane.

 

Posted by Jeff Kraus