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Richmond — Virginia’s Community Colleges are taking aim at textbook costs.

Full-time students, on average, spend nearly $1,000 a year on textbooks and other learning resources, according to the College Board. That is increasingly seen as a barrier to both student enrollment and student success. New grants made by the VCCS are tapping community college faculty expertise and creativity to reduce those costs by adopting “Open Educational Resources.”

The initiative is one of many embraced by the Chancellor’s Reengineering Task Force as a way to reduce barriers to student success.

“One significant obstacle hindering the success of our students is the rising cost of textbooks,” said Chancellor Glenn Dubois. “To fully succeed, our students need access to inexpensive, high quality course materials on the very first day of class.”

A dozen grants – each worth $3,000 – are being awarded to faculty members teaching in community colleges across Virginia to boost the use of Open Educational Resources (OER) – teaching and learning materials freely available online for everyone to use – in high enrollment courses including English, psychology, biology, business, chemistry, history, mathematics and information technology (see list below). Those projects aim to increase the awareness of OERs as well as create classes for which OERs will be the only required material.

The grant program is one of several strategies aiming to slash the cost of textbooks for Virginia Community College students.  Others include:

  • Tidewater Community College’s OpenTCC project, where business faculty are developing the first ever associate’s degree in business administration with no textbook costs (http://www.tcc.edu/news/press/2013/TextbookFreeDegree.htm).
  • A team of math faculty and instructional designers developed a web site to help students prepare for several units in developmental math (http://vpt-math.vccs.edu).
  • Faculty members at New River Community College have created free, web-based resources for English 111 & 112 courses.
  • Northern Virginia Community College’s Extended Learning Institute (ELI) is creating a series of general education course options that will become part of an OER-based general education certificate program. The courses will be open to NVCC students as well as distance learning students from other Virginia Community Colleges; the open materials will be available system-wide as well as licensed through the Creative Commons.

“Open Educational Resources have the potential to significantly drive down the cost of a community college degree,” says Dr. Richard Sebastian, director of director of teaching and learning technologies for Virginia’s Community Colleges. “We look forward to expanding this pilot grant program to move open resources even further into the fabric of community college academic life.”

The 12 new grant recipients to boost the use of OERs include:

  • Central Virginia Community College – Juville Dario-Becker – Biology 101
  • Paul D. Camp Community College – Safianu Rabiu – Biology 102
  • Southwest Virginia Community College – Loretta Beavers – Business 100
  • Thomas Nelson Community College – Riham Mahfouz – Chemistry 111
  • Southside Virginia Community College – Leslie Cline – Public Speaking (CST) 100
  • Blue Ridge Community College – James Eriksen – English 111
  • Germanna Community College – Cheryl Huff – English 112
  • Rappahannock Community College – Matt Brent – History 101
  • Northern Virginia Community College – Shelley Slaey – Information Technology Essentials 115
  • Wytheville Community College – Jason Lachniet – Math 163
  • Tidewater Community College – Glenn E. “Bert” Fox – Psychology 201
  • New River Community College – Peggy Dunn – Student Development 100

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 more than 405,000 students a year.  For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

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Dr. John J. Rainone to become President of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College

RICHMOND — Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges announced today that Dr. John J. Rainone will become the fourth president of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in Clifton Forge, Virginia, effective July 8, 2013.

Rainone, of Cape Neddick, Maine, is dean of institutional advancement at York County Community College, in Wells, Maine, a position he has held since 1999. He succeeds Dr. Richard Teaff, who retires this year after 18 years at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

“The reputation Dabney S. Lancaster Community College enjoys, and the community’s idyllic setting, generated an impressive field of finalists for this presidential opening,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “I am excited to welcome John Rainone as the college’s next president, confident that he will continue and build upon the college’s success under the leadership of Dick Teaff.”

“I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining a college like Dabney S. Lancaster and a system like the Virginia Community College System,” said Rainone. “The opportunities that exist to work with some very talented faculty and staff at Dabney afford the ability to continue to expand to meet the economic needs of the service region.”

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College Board Chair Margaret Burks said, “I consider it a privilege and a pleasure to be one of those chosen to serve on the committee to choose our new president. We are sure that Dr. Rainone will fit in well with our community and will move Dabney S. Lancaster forward.”

Rainone previously served as interim chief financial officer/administration at York County Community College and also as interim dean of academic programs. Prior to that, he was dean of professional development and business services at York County Community college and assistant dean of community education and workforce development at New Hampshire Technical College, now Manchester Community College.

Rainone holds a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University as well as a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Southern New Hampshire University.

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 more than 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

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Dr. Edward E. “Ted” Raspiller to become President of John Tyler Community College

RICHMOND — Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges announced today that Dr. Edward E. “Ted” Raspiller will become the 7th president of John Tyler Community College (JTCC) beginning Aug. 5.

Raspiller is currently president of the Brazos County Campuses at Blinn College in Bryan, Texas. Previously, he directed the Community College Leadership doctoral program at Old Dominion University.

“I’ve known Ted for more than a decade,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “He brings to the table the right skills and the right experience to lead John Tyler Community College to the next level.”

"The JTCC College Board, faculty, staff, and students are excited about Dr. Raspiller's arrival as our new president – and his enthusiasm and commitment to creating a success story for every student," said Art Heinz, chair of the John Tyler Community College Board.

Raspiller succeeds Dr. Marshall W. Smith, who retires this year after serving as John Tyler Community College president for nearly 23 years.
“Words cannot describe how excited I am to become the next president of JTCC,” Raspiller said. “I am excited to work with JTCC and the entire Virginia Community College System team to build upon the great legacy that will be left behind by Dr. Smith.”

“Now more than ever, we are dependent upon community colleges to build and maintain a strong, quality workforce. I look forward to bringing my skills and experience to build upon the strong foundation of programs and services already in place,” he said.

Raspiller was named president for the Brazos County Campuses at Blinn College in November 2011 after serving a year leading those campuses as provost. From 1999 to 2003, he was dean of technical and workforce education at Blinn.
At Old Dominion, in addition to directing the doctoral Community College Leadership program from 2006-2010, he chaired the educational foundations and leadership department.

Raspiller served as interim president at Waukesha County Technical College in Wisconsin in 2006, where he was vice president of learning innovations from 2003-2006. In addition to Blinn College, he has also held positions at Texas State Technical College; Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa; and Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois.

He holds a doctorate and a master’s degree from Northern Illinois University as well as a bachelor’s degree from Governors State University and an associate’s degree from the College of DuPage.

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 more than 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

About John Tyler Community College: John Tyler Community College is the fifth largest of the 23 community colleges in Virginia. With campuses in Chester and Midlothian and off-campus classrooms throughout the area, John Tyler offers quality and economical opportunities for students who want to earn a degree or certificate, transfer to a four-year college or university, train for the workforce, or switch careers. The college served more than 14,895 students during the 2011-12 academic year, offers 18 associate degrees, eight certificates, and 35 career studies certificates. The institution also serves 15,000 non-credit students and more than 1,000 companies and government agencies annually through the Community College Workforce Alliance. The college also is committed to sustainability. In July 2010, it received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification for Hamel Hall on its Midlothian Campus, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition. John Tyler Community College is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

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State Board for Community Colleges May Business Meeting

RICHMOND – The State Board for Community Colleges will convene its regular meeting on Thursday, May 16 2013 at 9 a.m. in the Godwin-Hamel Board Room on the 15th floor of the James Monroe Building, 101 N. 14th Street, Richmond.

State Board Committees will meet on Wednesday, May 15, also in the James Monroe Building. 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 Personal Committee meet at 3 p.m.; and the Audit Committee meets at 3:45 p.m. An executive committee meeting will take place at the conclusion of the other committee meetings. Agenda items for the regular business meeting on May 16 include:

Academic, Student Affairs & Workforce – The State Board will consider approval of a new associate of applied science degree in mechatronics systems engineering technology for Virginia Western Community College. The board will also consider revisions to policies on public service fees and on educational records, as well as adopt the six year academic-financial plan. Reports will be provided on developmental education redesign; on open education resource adoption and on federal Trade Act Assistance grants.

Facilities – The State Board will consider approval of the 2014-2020 Six-Year Capital Outlay Plan and will also consider policy manual changes on land acquisition to be consistent with state law. Schematic designs will be considered for the Houff Student Center additions at Blue Ridge; renovation of the student center at Central Virginia; and Phase III for the Midlothian Campus of John Tyler. Master plan updates will be considered for the Fauquier Campus of Lord Fairfax and for the Portsmouth Campus of Tidewater Community College, among other projects.

Budget and Finance – The State Board will consider tuition and fee policy recommendations for 2013-14.

Personnel Committee – The State Board will consider policies in support of faculty evaluation and will consider salary scales for 2013-14. An update on provisions of the Affordable Care Act will also be provided.

A new chair and vice chair for the State Board for 2013-14 will also be elected.

###

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 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu. 

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Dr. Bruce R. Scism to Become President of Danville Community College

ScismRICHMOND — Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges announced today that Dr. Bruce R. Scism will become the 5th president of Danville Community College (DCC) beginning Aug. 1.

Scism is currently vice president of academic affairs at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, Tennessee, a position he has held since 2008.

“Along with outstanding credentials and experience, Bruce Scism has a personal history and knowledge of the Danville area,” said DuBois. “Danville Community College has a well-earned reputation for providing the academic and workforce training programs that allow its community to win 21st century opportunities. I am convinced that Bruce is the right person to build on that success and lead the college forward.”

Scism will succeed Dr. B. Carlyle Ramsey, who retires Aug. 1 after 21 years as the president at DCC.

“I’m delighted that Dr. Scism will become Danville’s next president,” said College Board Chair Elizabeth Spainhour. “I’m sure he will continue Dr. Ramsey’s legacy in preparing students to enter the workforce of the 21st century. His ties to this area will enhance his visibility in the community and allow him to become the face of DCC.

“The board and I look forward to working with Dr. Scism, together with the Danville Community College Educational Foundation and area business and industry, in continuing and enhancing the college’s high level of success,” she added.

Scism called DCC the “ideal setting,” saying “I am excited to become the next president there. They have a lot on the ball.  It’s a beautiful campus.” He noted that he was born at the Danville hospital, and while he grew up in North Carolina, he had grandparents who spent their lives in the Danville area.

Scism served as interim president at Volunteer State from October 2011 to May 2012. He was chief academic officer at Lee College, a comprehensive community college in Baytown, Texas from 2006-2008, where he directed academic affairs including transfer, technical/vocational programs, and workforce development.

Previously he served as vice president for academic affairs and student services at Triton College in River Grove, Ill., (2002-2006) and as associate vice president –instructional technology at Triton College (2001-2002). He was coordinator of the Illinois Prairie Higher Education Consortium and the Illinois Prairie Internet Consortium from 1999-2001, and served as director of virtual learning at Lake Land College in Mattoon, Ill., from 1998-2000.

Scism has a doctorate from the University of Illinois, as well as a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree from Eastern Illinois University.

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 more than 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

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Program audit leads to savings for students, families and Virginia’s Community Colleges

RICHMOND — Virginia’s Community Colleges have completed the first phase of a comprehensive credit audit that will reduce the amount of time it takes to earn an associate’s degree in a transfer program – and save students and the commonwealth money in the process.

The initiative is part of a range of options being implemented as part of the Chancellor’s Reengineering Task Force. The savings so far, to students and to the colleges, is $1.9 million – every year.

As part of the audit, VCCS faculty and staff looked at all 214 transfer programs across the system, and found that more than three-quarters of them required more than 61 credits - or more than two years at a full time schedule - to complete.

Chancellor Glenn DuBois initiated the audit in the fall of 2011, asking colleges to look closely at all of their programs to see if the same goals could be accomplished with fewer credits. “Trimming this credit creep ensures the continued vitality of our two-year transfer programs, and saves students and families both tuition and time,” he said.

Now that colleges have completed their audits and made changes in the transfer programs, that percentage has flipped, and more than 80 percent of transfer programs now are within the 61 credit goal. In all, 232 credits were removed (from one to six credits each) from 137 targeted transfer programs.

Among the remaining programs are those that were already at the 61-credit total, and programs where additional credits were justified, such as engineering.

The credit reduction for each program is small and incremental, noted Dan Lewis, director of educational programs, but across the board, makes a big impact.

Colleges are now completing similar work in applied programs and in certificate programs, and final results are due soon.

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 more than 405,000 students a year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

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RICHMOND — The State Board for Community Colleges established the 2013-2014 in-state tuition and mandatory fees rate at $130 per credit hour at its regular May meeting. Beginning this fall in-state students will pay an additional $5.50 per credit hour, which means the cost of a typical three-hour class will increase by $16.50 and the cost of a full-time load of classes for the year will by $165.

The approved 4.4 percent increase will allow Virginia’s Community Colleges to expand science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and health science (STEM-H) programs. It will increase the percentage of courses taught by full-time faculty from 45 percent to 47.5 percent – a level not seen throughout the VCCS since 2005. The increase will also fund the colleges’ portion of employee salary increases and higher health insurance costs.

“This tuition decision balances our priorities of access and quality. It permits Virginia’s Community Colleges to advance its long-held goal of hiring more full-time faculty members and offering more science and technology programs, which are expensive to offer, while adhering to our public promise of affordability,” said Hank W. Chao, chair of the State Board for Community Colleges.

KEEPING A PUBLIC PROMISE
The board’s tuition decision is in accord with Achieve 2015, the VCCS six-year strategic plan that calls for keeping community college tuition and fee rates at one-half or less than that of the comparable rates at Virginia’s four-year universities.

Currently, tuition and mandatory fees at Virginia’s Community Colleges are just over one-third (37.6 percent) of the average of comparable tuition and fees charged by Virginia’s public four-year institutions.

TUITION DIFFERENTIALS
The State Board also agreed to increase the tuition differential rate for Northern Virginia Community College by $2.00 per credit hour. Even with the differential, NVCC’s tuition remains the lowest among comparable colleges in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Further, the board approved an increase of $1.00 per credit hour to the tuition differential rate for J. Sargeant Reynolds, Tidewater, Thomas Nelson and Virginia Western community colleges. Tidewater Community College will offset that tuition differential with a $1.00 decrease in its student activity fee. The tuition differential will help the included colleges attract and retain instructors in more competitive urban and suburban labor markets.

OUT-OF-STATE TUITION
The State Board increased the tuition rate for out-of-state students by $5.50 per credit hour to a total of $324.60 per credit hour. Out-of-state students make up approximately five percent of the total enrollment of Virginia’s Community Colleges.

About Virginia’s Community CollegesCreated 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 more than 405,000 students a year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

*Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Health Science
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RICHMOND – The Great Expectations “Building the Bond” tour continues with two final public luncheons scheduled for Thursday, May 23, in Norfolk and Wednesday, May 29, in Richmond.

Anne Holton, the new program director of Great Expectations, and other Virginia Community College leaders have hosted events across Virginia this month, seeking ideas and support for elevating the next phase of the foster youth-focused program.

An initiative of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education and Virginia’s Community Colleges, the Building the Bond tour is sponsored by Virginia529 College Savings Plan and spotlights National Foster Care Month.

The Building the Bond tour features a series of public luncheons for social workers, foster parents and others who work to help Virginia’s foster youth. The May 23 event is scheduled for the Norfolk Campus Student Center at Tidewater Community College. The May 29 event is scheduled for the J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Conference Center at 1651 E. Parham Road.

Great Expectations began in fall 2008 at five pilot community colleges and has grown to serve foster youth at 17 Virginia community colleges today. More than 500 youth are currently in the program, which seeks to increase foster youth graduation and college retention rates. With its emphasis on a person-to-person connection with a Great Expectations coach, the program offers a unique answer to the vexing challenge of single-digit foster youth graduation statistics.

“As a society we can spend up to one million dollars on a youth who has spent his or her life inside the child welfare system. It is a heartbreaking loss to see so many of them end up incarcerated or homeless only months after turning 18,” said Holton, hired in January to lead Great Expectations. “Isn’t it so much better to have a program like ours help these young people earn a college credential that will allow them to sustain themselves? We’ve had a terrific first five years and we’re seeking ways to make the next five years even better.”

The first public Building the Bond tour event was sponsored in Charlottesville earlier this month. Holton also attended the Richard Leigh Songwriters Festival May 18 at Virginia Highlands Community College (VHCC) in Abingdon to benefit that college’s Great Expectations program. Leigh, a Grammy-winning artist, is an alum of VHCC.

“Anne Holton is bringing a lot of energy and excitement to an initiative that is close to my heart and I applaud her for it,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. “Our colleges are at their best when they can bring the community together to address a community need. And the plight of Virginia’s foster youth is just that: an unmet community need. No question, this tour and the conversations and awareness it creates will only improve Great Expectations moving forward.”

The Great Expectations Building the Bond Tour is made possible by the generous support of Virginia529 College Savings Plan.

“Virginia529 is proud to sponsor the Great Expectations Building the Bond tour,” said Mary Morris, CEO of Virginia529 College Savings Plan. “Our mission is to help make college more affordable and accessible to all Virginians. The opportunity to partner with VCCS and the VFCCE to support the Great Expectations program is an exciting way to assist and encourage foster youth to realize their dreams, highlight the exceptional programs at Virginia’s Community Colleges and focus everyone on the importance of higher education.”

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 400,000 students each year. For more information, please visit myfuture.vccs.edu.

About the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education: Working hand in hand with Virginia’s 23 community colleges, the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education seeks to guarantee financial assistance to all students who dream of attending college. The foundation is building an endowment that is already generating interest to provide full scholarships to selected community college students. Donors to the fund are invited to endow a single scholarship in their name and designate it to any of Virginia’s community colleges or regions. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu/Foundation.

About Virginia529: Virginia529 is a college savings plan that offers flexible, affordable, tax-advantaged savings programs for qualified higher education expenses through its four programs – Virginia529 prePAIDSM (prePAIDSM), Virginia529 inVESTSM (inVESTSM), CollegeAmerica® and CollegeWealth®. With over 2.2 million accounts and $39 billion in assets under management as of December 31, 2012, Virginia529 is the largest 529 plan in the country. For more information on Virginia529’s college savings options, visit Virginia529.com.

[post_title] => “Building the Bond Tour” Continues to Spotlight Foster Youth-Focused Community College Initiative - 5.10.13 [post_excerpt] => [post_status] => publish [comment_status] => closed [ping_status] => closed [post_password] => [post_name] => building-the-bond-tour-continues-to-spotlight-foster-youth-focused-community-college-initiative-may-20-2013 [to_ping] => [pinged] => [post_modified] => 2013-08-16 15:00:33 [post_modified_gmt] => 2013-08-16 15:00:33 [post_content_filtered] => [post_parent] => 0 [guid] => http://www.vccs.edu/?post_type=newsroom&p=6915 [menu_order] => 0 [post_type] => newsroom [post_mime_type] => [comment_count] => 0 [filter] => raw ) [8] => WP_Post Object ( [ID] => 10653 [post_author] => 2 [post_date] => 2013-07-15 17:29:56 [post_date_gmt] => 2013-07-15 17:29:56 [post_content] => July 15, 2013 News Release Highlights: ~Bruce Meyer, of Virginia Beach, begins a one-year terms as chair of the State Board for Community Colleges. ~Meyer wants to leverage workforce development to put Virginians back to work ~Dorcas Helfant-Browning will serve as vice chair.

Tidewater Community College Alum Promises “Open Door” Leadership as New State Board Chair

[caption id="" align="alignright" width="320"]Meyer Bruce Meyer is the new chair of the State Board for Community Colleges[/caption] RICHMOND – “I am one of you.” That is the message Bruce Meyer wants everyone associated with Virginia’s Community Colleges to know heading into his first meeting of his one-year term as chair of the State Board for Community Colleges, and he has the credentials to prove it. “I am a proud alumnus of Tidewater Community College and I am humbled and honored to serve as your chair,” he said. Meyer is the second graduate of Virginia’s Community Colleges to serve as state board chair. Governor Bob McDonnell appointed Meyer to the board in July 2010 – Meyer’s second appointment to the panel. He served a previous four-year term beginning in 2001. Then, as chair of the Academic, Student Affairs and Workforce Development committees, he helped foster some of the first of what has since become more than 30 guaranteed transfer agreements between Virginia’s Community Colleges and public and private universities across the state and beyond. As chair, Meyer says he wants to continue expanding the opportunities community colleges are uniquely positioned to offer. “One of my top priorities as chair is workforce development so we can continue to help put our fellow Virginians back to work.” Meyer said. “I also will help to provide all the tools necessary to assist the chancellor and his expert team with the implementation of Achieve 2015, the VCCS six-year strategic plan." Reconstituting the Godwin Society is on Meyer’s front burner as well. “My plan is to turn this prestigious organization into an advocacy and foundation arm of the State Board for Community Colleges.” Meyer has a strong and active leadership commitment to his community. He is currently serving as vice chairman of advocacy for Prevent Child Abuse Hampton Roads and because of his long-standing political leadership, he has helped craft key legislation to benefit children and families throughout Virginia. Meyer also serves on the board of directors for the Tidewater Community College Alumni Association – an organization he helped launch back in 2011. As the founder and president of Virginia Beach-based Meyer Group Insurance, Meyer is recognized as a leader in the industry, and is often called upon at the state and federal level for his knowledge of insurance matters and the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Also taking on a new role on the board is Dorcas Helfant-Browning. She becomes the board’s vice chair, the title previously held by Meyer. Helfant-Browning, who also resides in Virginia Beach, currently serves as CEO, principal broker and managing partner of Coldwell Banker Professional Realtors. As the former president of the National Association of Realtors and the first woman to hold that position in the organization’s history, Helfant-Browning has been widely quoted in some of the nation’s leading newspapers and has made numerous television appearances including CNN’S Moneyline, ABC’s Good Morning America and CNBC. 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 myfuture.vccs.edu.

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Richmond, Va. (July 15, 2013) – Virginia’s Community Colleges abound with life-changing moments for thousands of students across the Commonwealth. For David Jezierski, Meagan Gay and eight other outstanding community college students, opportunity came knocking when they were selected for the 2012-2013 class of the prestigious Valley Proteins Fellows scholarship program.

Out of the more than 400,000 people served by Virginia’s Community Colleges, only ten are selected each year as Valley Proteins Fellows. The program, which began with the 2011-2012 class, is now in its third year and is made possible through a generous donation by Valley Proteins, Inc., based in Winchester, Va. The approximate value of the scholarship, accompanied with professional development, travel and cultural opportunities, as well as a stipend for an internship and a community service project, totals up to $10,000 per Fellow.

Both Jezierski and Gay credited the professors and helpful administrators at Lord Fairfax Community College and Rappahannock Community College, respectively, for making them aware of the Valley Proteins Fellows scholarship and encouraging them to apply.

“Being selected as a Valley Proteins Fellow in June 2012 was an unbelievable honor,” said Jezerski. “The financial support allowed me to say ‘Yes’ to opportunities in my second year of college that would advance my career goals. Plus, there were professional development seminars to develop our leadership skills and even a trip to Richmond to meet Governor McDonnell, Senator Warner and other VIPs.”

Gay, who commented that she was very humbled and honored when she was notified about being selected as a Fellow, agreed that the scholarship’s financial aid was especially helpful to her family, which was faced with some sizeable medical expenses for a sick grandparent. “The Valley Proteins scholarship relieved my parents and me from having to stress about the financial aspect of paying for college.”
A major component of being a Valley Proteins Fellow is dedicating many hours to a community service project. Jezierski interned in his college’s math department, learning how to teach math at the community college level, his career aspiration. Gay, an avid horse lover, volunteered at B&R Ranch in Fredericksburg, which is an equestrian therapy program for students with special needs and disabilities.

“Thanks to the generous stipend of the Valley Proteins Fellows program, I was able to tutor students in math,” remarked Jezierski. Added Gay, “I learned how to interact and communicate with people who have physical, mental or behavioral challenges. This wouldn’t have been possible without the Valley Proteins scholarship.”

Jezierski and Gay know that the new class of Fellows is about to embark on a rewarding experience in the coming year. In their opinion, being named as Valley Proteins Fellows put them on the path to future success in the workforce. Jezierski plans to major in math at JMU and Gay will study chemistry at the College of William and Mary. Both of these 4-year colleges participate in a guaranteed transfer agreement with Virginia’s Community Colleges as long as certain GPA requirements are met.

“My brother and I are pleased to support the Valley Proteins Fellows program because it provides us with the opportunity to support communities where our business operates,” said Michael A. Smith, Vice President of Valley Proteins, Inc. Smith currently chairs the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, the supporting arm for the Virginia Community College System.

According to Smith, the state’s community colleges offer an excellent return on investment for any businesses that contribute funding to the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. “Approximately 90 percent of students that attend a community college will stay in the community to work,” he added. “The community college system has a far-reaching effect on the state’s economic prosperity through the increase of a skilled labor pool for businesses as well as service providers such as nursing and automotive technicians, among many others.”

The 2013-2014 class of Fellows includes students from J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Eastern Shore Community College, Lord Fairfax Community College, Piedmont Virginia Community College, Southwest Virginia Community College, Tidewater Community College, Thomas Nelson Community College and Wytheville Community College.

For information on the Valley Proteins Fellows and other scholarship opportunities offered through the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education, visit www.myfuture.vccs.edu/Foundation.

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 more than 405,000 students a year. For more information, please visit www.vccs.edu.

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