Posted on Thursday, January 16, 2014

VCCS BlogConversations beginning later this month will chart the course of Virginia’s Community Colleges into the next decade. Our strategic planning taskforce will continue the process that began with a statewide listening tour last fall.

It’s hard to believe we’re there again, says the guy who staffed the taskforce that created our last six-year strategic plan, Achieve 2015.

StrategicPlanningTaskForce21st century students.

21st century jobs.

21st century community needs.

These all pose challenges to 20th century network of community colleges first discussed about the time that Elvis Presley became a household name. Those discussions became reality about a decade later, when the airwaves filled with songs from The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and a young Bob Dylan.

And yet, the challenge of shaping education to meet tomorrow’s needs isn’t new.

Just ask George Washington – yeah, that George Washington, the guy on the dollar bill.

A significant part of his first presidential Annual Message to Congress on the State of Union – what we now just call the President’s State of the Union Address – implored the legislature to begin planning for the nation’s higher education needs.

GW“There is nothing which can better deserve your patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness. In one in which the measures of government receive their impressions so immediately from the sense of the community as in ours it is proportionably essential.”   — George Washington, January 8, 1790

Washington went on to offer them a few ideas, which sound eerily familiar to modern ears, like building new public universities or trying to leverage the private ones that existed. The speech gives Congress a lot of wiggle room.

Perhaps it is comforting to know that some things really do stay the same. Having our creativity, our experience and our expertise challenged doesn’t make our work harder. Instead, that is our work. Strategic planning is just another deliberate way to pursue it.

We’ll keep you posted along the way.'

Jeffrey Kraus

Jeffrey Kraus loves a well-told story; a great conversation; and the perfect glass of iced tea. He’s worked as a speechwriter, a journalist and a Zamboni operator (but not all at the same time or even in that order). Don’t talk to him about Steelers football, Penguins hockey, Pirates baseball or VCU Rams basketball unless you want a lengthy conversation.

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