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            [post_title] => Service set today for S. A. Burnette, retired JSRCC president - Times-Dispatch - 8.13.14
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[caption id="attachment_15564" align="alignright" width="217"]Madere Whit Madere[/caption]

RICHMOND — Whit Madere brings a systematic, disciplined approach to evaluating and improving the effectiveness of risk management, control, and governance processes as he takes over as director of internal audit for Virginia’s Community Colleges.

And he’s eager to get down to business.

“The first big task of our Internal Audit team will be to reassess VCCS needs to identify those areas in which we can make the most meaningful contributions to support the system office and the individual colleges in mitigating risks and overcoming any obstacles to achieving their objectives,” Madere said.

A registered certified public accountant who’s currently pursuing a doctoral degree in education, Madere had most recently worked as assistant director in the Office of Audit and Consulting Services at the University of Texas at El Paso. He has also taught accounting at Fontbonne University in St. Louis, Missouri and auditing at Austin Community College and at St. Edward’s University, also in Austin.

Madere says he’s passionate about higher education and the opportunities it provides for students to enrich their lives and the communities they work and live in. “Joining the VCCS team gives me an opportunity to pursue my passion together with like-minded higher education academics and professionals.”

Madere holds a MBA from Baylor University and a bachelor’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve nearly 400,000 students a year. For more information, please visit


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April 12-14 - VCCS New Horizons Conference

April 18  - The Chancellor's Award for Leadership in Philanthropy

May 19 - Graduation for Great Expectations students

December 6-8 - Hire Education Conference


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RichmondAngelica Garcia faced a tough decision. The 2014 graduate of Eastern Shore Community College could attend the University of Virginia this fall or the aspiring artist could sign the record deal Warner Brothers Records offered her. While everyone’s options are different, Garcia says attending community college is a big part of her success.

[caption id="attachment_14692" align="alignright" width="300"]Garcia Angelica Garcia speaks as a member of the 2013 Class of Valley Proteins Fellows.[/caption]

“I feel so completely glad that I went to a community college and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I got to do all of this without accumulating some massive debt. Those, overall, are probably two of the best and smartest years of my life,” Garcia said. She is among a group of students that is growing and thriving throughout Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS).

Hispanic and Latino students are attending Virginia’s 23 community colleges in record numbers, achieving greater academic success and earning more transfer-oriented credentials than ever before. That is according to analysis of student enrollment between the years 2009-2013 presented to the State Board for Community Colleges. Hispanic and Latino student enrollment grew nearly 58 percent during that period and the number of Hispanic graduates increased 150 percent.

“This is encouraging news,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of the VCCS. “Our community colleges exist to provide every Virginia family with affordable access to higher education and we are here to help them turn that opportunity into a college credential. Virginia’s Hispanic and Latino population has doubled since this century began. Our ability to serve these families will determine their economic future, and Virginia’s, for decades to come.”

“That’s the dream, right?”

Garcia, who is deferring her UVa acceptance for a year, decided to sign the record deal.

“That’s the dream, right? Everyone wants to go to school and get an education but people sometimes feel like it’s not available to them. But the community colleges are great and people are seeing that.”

Garcia grew up in Southern California before moving to Virginia. She was accepted to Bennington College out of high school. She decided against attending what she describes as a “great school,” believing that the private college’s costs “were unfair to my parents.”

“It just made so much more sense to me [to attend a community college.] It just seemed like a way better deal than trying to go away to school. “Garcia said she is not surprised to see more Hispanic and Latino students pursuing a community college education, especially given its convenience and quality.

“For a lot of my Latino and Latina friends, one of the big fears is that if I go away to school then I cannot help my family. A lot of times parents have anxiety about letting their kids go away to school. I’m so glad community colleges are there and they can act like a bridge for these families,” Garcia said.

Serving a Growing Population

Virginia’s Hispanic and Latino population has grown dramatically since 2000, now representing 8.6 percent of the state, compared to just 5.8 percent of the enrollment at Virginia’s public universities. The interesting findings of the 2008-2013 enrollments include:

  • Hispanic student enrollment grew nearly 58%, outpacing non-Hispanic enrollment growth.
  • First generation Hispanic students increased more than six-fold, from 814 to nearly 6,000.
  • More than a quarter (27%) of today’s VCCS Hispanic students is first-generation.
  • More Hispanic students today (58%) are enrolling in transfer-oriented associate degree programs than five years ago (51%).
  • The number of Hispanic students enrolled in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs has doubled over the past five years. Today, more than one in six Hispanic students are enrolled in STEM.
  • Hispanic student GPAs are rising. Three quarters earned a GPA of 2.0 or better in 2012-13, compared to 70% five years ago.
  • The percentage of Hispanic students earning more than 30 credits in the VCCS increased from 25.7% to 31.3%
  • More Hispanic students are graduating. The number of Hispanic graduates rose from 714 to 1,777 over the past five years, an increase of 150%.

Essential Transfer Opportunities

[caption id="attachment_14693" align="alignright" width="300"]Armando Vega Armando Vega, Jr. met Governor Terry McAuliffe at the 2014 VCCS Legislative Reception.[/caption]

Armando Vega, Jr. is a 2014 graduate of Tidewater Community College who will be taking advantage of an offer to attend UVa in the fall. The former U.S. Navy sailor said financial consideration forced him to pass on an earlier opportunity to attend American University. The guaranteed transfer agreements between the VCCS and 30 public and private universities kept his dreams alive.

“The price of tuition is great but more than anything, what the VCCS offered was the articulation agreements. That was key for me,” Vega said.

Vega said his professors were first rate and that his community college’s diversity and inclusive nature was good preparation.

“Our country is becoming more and more diverse. Learning how to work well with everyone is becoming key, especially if you’re looking to do anything in business on a larger scale,” he said.


See the Student Success Snapshot detailing these enrollment trends for more information.


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve nearly 400,000 students a year.  For more information, please visit


Photo at top, Angelica Garcia was a featured performer at the 2013 Valley Proteins Dinner, and has signed a record contract with Warner Brothers Records. 

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Dorcas red suit (3)RICHMOND – Dorcas Helfant-Browning, whose mother was a “Rosie Riveter” during World War ll, says she’s honored to begin her one-year term as chair of the State Board for Community Colleges.

“Whenever you have the opportunity to serve, your job is to direct traffic and solve the goals of the system and stay on target.”

A self-styled Facebook “junkie,” Helfant-Browning says one of the biggest challenges facing the State Board in the coming year is learning to do more differently because the Commonwealth can no longer count on government contracting and the presence of government to be the state’s “growth employer.

“Therefore, we need to look at attracting more business and industry that can bring jobs to that skilled workforce which we have and creating the environment that the Commonwealth is the place to do business and to be headquartered.”

From an academic perspective, Helfant–Browning says Virginia’s Community Colleges are doing a good job of attracting younger students who need a pathway to four-year institutions. “We’re also identifying that not everyone needs a full academic set of credentials. But they need a credential to maximize their ability to be productive members of society. That’s equally important to the board members understanding for the commonwealth to grow and prosper – we must have a workforce that is either educated, certified or a combination of those things.”

Born in West Virginia, Helfant-Browning currently resides in Virginia Beach where she enjoys working out on a regular basis.

“I always feel like I’m being mentally challenged. But I like to physically challenge myself, weights and light cardio and those type things to keep me in shape.”

Helfant-Browning was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Tim Kaine in 2009 and was reappointed in 2011 by Gov. Bob McDonnell. She previously served eight years, including three terms as chair, on the Tidewater Community College local board. She currently serves as liaison to both Tidewater and Paul D. Camp community colleges.                

Also taking on a new role on the board is Idalia Fernandez. She becomes the board’s vice chair, the title previously held by Helfant-Browning.

Fernandez is president of the Hispanic College Fund, a $6 million non-profit that supports Hispanic students. In her role, she oversees developmental programs, fundraising and finances of the fund.

She was also appointed to the State Board for Community Colleges in 2009 by Gov. Tim Kaine and currently serves as liaison to Lord Fairfax Community College.

About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students each year in both academic and workforce training programs. For more information, please visit

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State Board for Community Colleges July 2014 Business Meeting 

RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges will convene its regular meeting on Thursday, July 17, at 9 a.m. in the Godwin-Hamel Board Room, James Monroe Building, 101 N. 14th Street, 15th floor, Richmond.

State Board Committees will meet on Wednesday, July 16. The Academic, Student Affairs and Workforce Development Committee and the Budget and Finance Committee meet at 1:30 p.m.; the Facilities Committee and the Personnel Committee meet at 3 p.m.; and the Audit Committee meets at 3:30 p.m.

A complete agenda is available online here:


About Virginia’s Community Colleges: Created more than 40 years ago, the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 405,000 students each year. For more information, please visit

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