“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” — General George Patton
For four consecutive days, the downstairs conference room at Virginia Community Colleges’ headquarters was bustling with activity. Faculty, administrators and staff members from all 23 of Virginia’s Community Colleges had come to this place for a singular purpose – to learn.
The 2015 Faculty and Administrators Leadership Academy saw every seat filled and every room filled to capacity.
The event, sponsored by the Office of Professional Development, focused on the leadership development needs of current supervisors who aspire to senior leadership positions within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).
Break-out sessions ran the gambit; from skill development through behavioral assessments to experientially-based seminars that focused on problem-solving.
Christopher Porter, dean of learning resources at Virginia Western Community College, says it was an intense few days but worth every minute.
“The experience of interactive learning that I shared with attendees from other colleges, leaders in the systems office, and so many senior college administrators made this the singular best professional development event I have ever attended.”
Dean of Institutional Effectiveness and Special Projects at Southside Virginia Community College, Dr. Anne Hayes, described the sessions as “transformative.” She adds there was one session with the vice presidents in particular that really stood out.
“I appreciated Dr. Ann Woolford’s reflections on career progression. Comparing ascension to the game Jenga, she said, ‘As you move up, know that you’re only as stable as your base. We have to nourish our foundation and build trust and support. We must be focused on people and all that they bring.’”
Dr. Abigail Stonerock, director of faculty development for VCCS, says she and her colleagues were hesitant to make any changes to the program this year given the success of the Academy in 2014.
“However, we could not pass up the opportunity to add sessions on the emerging role of presidents as fundraisers, and the first year presidential experience. It paid off. The sessions were outstanding!”
Porter says taking part in this year’s Academy left him convinced that there’ll be no future shortage of talented and innovative leaders within the VCCS pipeline. For Hayes, the Academy experience helped reinforce the notion of why she chose to work for Virginia’s Community Colleges in the first place.
“I learned that we must stay passionate about what we do, and we must remain connected to and aligned with the joy of impacting individual student lives.”
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