Posted on Monday, August 11, 2014

1. As president of VHCC, what are some of your first orders of business?

On July 1, 2014, I officially began work as the president of Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC). I am deeply honored and very excited about being named the sixth president of VHCC.

I firmly believe in the power of the community college to transform the lives of our students, families, and our community. This power is exemplified by the impact VHCC has played in our region during the past 45 plus years. While we will respect and honor our past, we will look to the future that is full of possibilities.

In the weeks and months ahead, I will be meeting with stakeholder groups of the college to learn more about VHCC. I will be doing a great deal of listening and asking lots of questions so that I can arrive at a deeper appreciation for the college. Additionally, I am looking to connect to the community. The idea is to strengthen existing relations and build new areas as we pursue new levels of service and excellence at VHCC.

2. Southwest Virginia has seen its share of economic hardships. What role do you see VHCC playing as an active partner in the community and preparing your students for the careers of tomorrow?

A community college by its very nature, reflects the community it serves, moving with agility to match programs of study to economic forces. For VHCC, the most important statement for economic development is workforce development. Therefore, we need to have the relevant curriculum, programs, and business and industry training. We have a responsibility to be an engaged partner in our service region.

Georgetown University forecasted that by 2018, sixty-three percent of jobs will require some post-secondary education. At VHCC we recognize economic and workforce development is a race without a finish line. The College will support the areas of economic and community development strategies. As a part of these strategies, we will continually review and analyze our program mix to match the business and community workforce development needs.

3.You graduated from SWCC. Does that give you any special insights into the needs and objectives of Virginia’s Community Colleges in that part of the Commonwealth? If so, why?

Leaders are shaped by their own heritage, culture, education and experiences. I am no different. I was born in Abingdon, “grew up” in Castlewood and graduated from Castlewood High. I went on to complete my associate degree from Southwest Virginia Community College. While I have spent the majority of my professional life in North Carolina, I am excited about coming home.

At an early age, I learned the importance of education and the value of hard work. Even though many years have passed, I still draw strength and inspiration from the positive experience I had as a student at Southwest Virginia Community College–owing much of my personal and professional success to my educational experience at SWCC. Additionally, after spending my “formative years” in Southwest Virginia, I have an appreciation for the value of the culture of the region. With this insight and knowledge of the area, I will be able to “hit the ground running.”

4. Everyone has their own unique style of management. How would you describe yours?

I am convinced that leadership is both an art and a science. My leadership style can be described as “influencing consensus seeking.” I rely upon the development of strategic initiatives, setting priorities, building consensus and communicating with stakeholders. Sharing information and being accessible to faculty, staff and the community is critical. From my experience, this approach builds trust, a sense of team, and a common understanding of current challenges and opportunities. As president, I have a responsibility to create an environment that provides for meaningful dialogues and healthy debates that allows stakeholders to surface their best thoughts and foster authentic discussion around important issues in pursuit of the very best solutions.

One of my favorite quotes about leadership is by John Quincy Adams.

“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” 

As the new president at VHCC, I hope that my actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and do more.

5. Tell us three personal things about yourself that others would be interested in learning.

Three things that you may find interesting about me:

•I grew up on a farm in southwest Virginia as one of five children. On our farm, we raised tobacco and cattle. During that time, I was learning lessons in leadership. Many of these lessons were disguised as hard work.

•I ran the Marine Corp Marathon in 1991.

•I have an extensive background in coaching youth sports (soccer, basketball, and baseball). Both of my sons played college sports.'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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