What’s the Plan?
By Quentin R. Johnson, Ph.D.
Last year, the Virginia Community College System approved a strategic plan for the 23 community colleges in the Commonwealth. That plan provided an overarching blueprint for achieving equity in access, learning outcomes, and success for students from every race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic group. Each college, including Southside Virginia Community College, was given individual responsibility for shaping a corresponding plan that would identify how it would meet objectives and goals within its own unique service area.
SVCC responded by working to develop a plan that would be inspirational, aspirational, and measurable. The job involved an intense, collaborative effort to gather input from many voices. Faculty and staff members, students, community leaders, education partners, local businesses, and industry leaders all participated. We also conducted listening sessions across our service area to hear what people had to say.
I am pleased to announce the results, a plan titled “Aspire 2027: Pathways to Opportunities.” This plan, which will guide our mission over the next five years, describes how we will pursue excellence, effectiveness, and efficiency in all we do, and it outlines a strategy for meeting important goals and objectives. The plan is founded on updated mission and vision statements.
Our mission statement states that, “Southside Virginia Community College serves as a gateway to education, training, and employment opportunities by providing relevant and innovative programs responsive to the diverse communities we serve in a student-centered, inclusive learning environment.”
Our forward looking vision statement proclaims, “SVCC is dedicated to inspiring excellence and transforming lives while contributing to the economic vitality of the diverse communities we serve.”
The core content of “Aspire 2027: Pathways to Opportunities” focuses on five areas. Let me briefly introduce each of them.
First is Student Success. This task involves promoting individual prosperity by advancing student completion and post-graduation success. It includes goals regarding enrollment from currently underrepresented and underserved populations and work to increase retention, program completion, and transfers.
Next is Teaching and Learning. This area’s work ensures that academic and workforce pathways prepare students for career and transfer opportunities. This includes making sure all programs are relevant and responsive to current needs, and it entails strengthening partnerships with others, such as school systems involved in dual enrollment programs and local business leaders who serve on advisory committees.
The third area is Community Engagement. These efforts are focused on improving economic opportunities in our service region and expanding community partnerships. In addition, because we recognize the value of varied perspectives and we honor the strength that comes with diversity, these tasks include examining our efforts to be welcoming, inclusive, and respectful.
The fourth area is Our People. SVCC has been identified as a premier place to work, and we will build on that success with a renewed focus on inclusive excellence and innovation. This involves opportunities for professional development, social interaction, and meaningful dialogue to broaden understanding of gaps in our diversity, equity, and inclusion goals.
Finally, the fifth area is Our Resources. We must ensure the efficient and effective use of our resources as we look to the community, industry, individuals, and grant makers to help sustain and advance the College’s mission today, and for years to come.
As a college president, there’s nothing that makes me prouder than to have a strong-collaborative strategic plan which was developed by our entire community. For more information about “Aspire 2027: Pathways to Opportunities” please visit https://southside.edu/strategic-planning.
Dr. Quentin R. Johnson is president of Southside Virginia Community College, an institution of higher learning that provides a wide variety of education opportunities to a diverse student population within a service area that spans ten counties and the City of Emporia. He can be reached via email at email@example.com.