Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2016

VCCSLogo-smallDear colleagues and friends:

Today was an historic day for Virginia’s Community Colleges.

The Commonwealth of Virginia will soon invest in high-demand workforce credentials just like it has been investing in our degree programs for the past 50 years. This moment is transformative for individual students seeking another path to success; for businesses that cannot find skilled and trained people to hire for open jobs today; and for our colleges whose workforce development efforts continue to evolve from the aspirational to the life-changing.

During a morning ceremony on the State Capitol’s South Portico, Governor Terry McAuliffe signed into law a first-in-the-nation pay for performance workforce credentials plan. The broad and bipartisan support this measure carried is reflected in the final votes that assured its General Assembly approval. The House of Delegates endorsed the credentials plan on a vote of 96-2. The State Senate passed it 39-0.

The list of people, institutions and organizations responsible for this moment is both long and distinguished. The concern of leaving out someone important is the only thing keeping me from listing them all here. I’ve always believed that community colleges are at their best when they respond to community needs. From the 1,500 business leaders who attended our 22 town hall meetings, to the business organizations willing to endorse our proposal, to the elected leaders who engaged and acted on this issue, to the community college leaders and board members who made this tangible, that’s what we’ve done here: respond to a community need.

The focus now turns to our community colleges.

Virginia’s initial investment in this credentials plan is nearly $19 million. No question, the ability of our community colleges to deliver these high-demand credentials will determine funding in subsequent budgets.

This new funding formula will mean the most to individuals who have the most to gain. Instead of being asked to pay the entire cost upfront – as is today’s practice – students pursuing these high-demand credentials will be asked to pay one-third the cost. The commonwealth will pay the college one-third of the cost when the student completes the program as well as the final one-third when the student earns the credential. Our community college workforce leaders are already engaged in the process of securing support from our State Board to endorse eligible high-demand credentials, a process you will soon hear more about.

Our current success in workforce development is a tribute to the hard work and imagination of our presidents and workforce leaders. This new funding formula, and initial investment, will position us to modernize and expand our training programs to more fully meet the needs of the people we serve. I don’t believe there has ever been a more exciting time to be doing this work.

Virginia’s Community Colleges turn 50 this year. Throughout 2016 we celebrate the progress and promise that highlights our first half-century. Moments like this – the creation of a workforce credentials plan, the pursuit of an ambitious six-year strategic plan – remind us that our best days lie ahead of us and our greatest achievements are yet to be realized. As Dana Hamel, the founding chancellor of the VCCS is fond of saying, “Today is a great day to be alive in the Commonwealth of Virginia.”



Featured image (left to right): Donna VanCleave, vice chancellor, administrative services; Sharon Morrisey, vice chancellor for academic services & research; Craig Herndon, vice chancellor for workforce development; Chancellor Glenn DuBois; Governor Terry McAuliffe; Jeffrey Kraus, assistant vice chancellor for public relations; Ted Raspiller, president, John Tyler Community College; Ellen Davenport, assistant vice chancellor, government relations; back row: Robert Shinn of Capital Results'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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