Although there are many challenges associated with being a new president, such as balancing time between family and work; producing more with less; and managing priorities of the College, I find that the toughest challenge is serving the disparate needs of the localities in our PDCCC service region. Each of our communities has its own economic ecosystem, and therefore, its own unique set of needs. At Paul D. Camp, we strive for solutions to each community’s needs by listening to their concerns and responding with programs relevant to those areas. We have been fortunate to be able to add new programs in all of our localities, but we still have more to accomplish in order to continue to serve our many stakeholders.
2. Can you briefly describe what your typical day is like?
No day is ever the same and each is met with new challenges, ideas, meetings, presentations, other obligations and unforeseen occurrences. But this is what I enjoy about my work. I feel that I have acquired the requisite skills and experience to face the many demands of my position, but I do expect to occasionally falter. And when I do, I have a sincere desire to learn from each mistake, which I know will ultimately make me a more effective leader. I am reminded of my daughter, who has become quite the “little dancer,” as I call her. When she first began dancing, she often moved more clumsily and the intense focus on each step was apparent on her face. After years of practice, she now glides effortlessly across the stage, exuding confidence and a smile big enough to light up the room.
While I do not wish to dance like her, I do approach the numerous challenges in my day with confidence, a growth mindset, and a smile.
3. What policy/policies have you implemented to increase engagement with the underserved population in southeast Virginia?
While the following is not a policy per se, we have an overall vision to be the region’s first choice for postsecondary education. This creates an overall mindset throughout the college culture to constantly assess the effectiveness of our policies and procedures that are in place to ensure we are offering high-quality and relevant programs. If we are going to help all of our students be successful, including the underserved, we need to stay on top of the needs of our students and our local business and industry partners.
One significant contribution that I have made is the implementation of a mentoring program, Men With a Purpose, to engage with our students who benefit from sharing academic and personal challenges as they relate to educational attainment. The students really seem to find value in attending these monthly meetings to discuss barriers and other obstacles. With my schedule, I don’t always have the opportunity to sit down with students and hear first-hand of their struggles and concerns, so I learn so much from them during these monthly meetings. It’s just as much beneficial, if not more, to me than it is to them.
In addition to Men With a Purpose, our TRIO programs, Upward Bound and Student Support Services, help many of our students who are low-income or first-generation.
We have also recently hired a coordinator for our recent participation in the VCCS Great Expectations program. Foster youth may have their own set of struggles, and we want to make sure they also receive the support and resources they need to be successful.
4. What is PDCCC doing to increase student completion rates?
The creation of our Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), 15 to Finish, which focuses on timely graduation for our students, is an initiative that we are very excited about at the college. This plan will help our students stay on track and stresses the importance of students taking 15 credits each semester in order to graduate on time. This plan will help them achieve their goals more efficiently with the potential to save our students a lot of money.
5. Please tell us something about yourself (e.g., hobbies, personal interests, etc.) that our readers would be interested in knowing about you.
Staying active is important to me for my physical and mental well-being. This job can be demanding, which makes it difficult to maintain a healthy diet and a regular workout routine. A car engine that does not receive preventative maintenance will eventually break down, and I believe the same is true with the body and mind if you do not take good care of them. For this reason, I remain highly active in sports with my kids and I also take an annual hiking trip with high school friends in the Adirondack Mountains – a daunting three-day hike that takes months of physical preparation. Additionally, nearly every day before work, I have to make 100 shots on the basketball court—and layups do not count.
This is a great way to begin the morning on a positive note. When I get to work, I feel energized and ready to tackle all tasks. So when my colleagues ask me, “How are you today?” I can honestly say, today is the best day of my life!
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