Student engagement policy modernized at Virginia’s Community Colleges

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By Charles Errico, Ph.D. – Chair of the Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee

Nearly sixty years ago, the old office hours policy began when Virginia established a community college system. The world was different in 1965 when Northern Virginia Community College opened its doors to 571 students in a converted warehouse at Bailey’s Crossroads.  In that bygone age, cell phones, text messaging, twitter, emails, and zoom meetings were well into the future, and professors assumed that most students would visit their offices for advice and counseling.

Image of Charles Errico

Errico

The Chancellor’s Faculty Advisory Committee (CFAC), with representatives from each of the 23 VCCS colleges, felt that it was time to modernize this policy.  Starting this fall, teaching faculty will work with their supervisors to determine better ways they can reach their students instead of waiting for their students to come to them.  Some remote hours might work best for those faculty who have a schedule consisting of virtual classes.  Student engagement hours in writing, math, and computer labs, or even in the college library, might reach more students in face-to-face courses.  For those faculty members who truly feel that their students are comfortable coming to their offices, then there is no need to change from the policy of the past.  Many faculty will establish hours with a mix of the above strategies. The goal is to devise ten hours per week that provide the best opportunities for students to reach and seek assistance from their faculty.

Like parental leave and phased retirement, student engagement hours represent a CFAC recommendation that became VCCS policy*.  Please contact your college’s CFAC representative if you have any questions about this policy or have suggestions on how CFAC can better serve our faculty in the future.

*To see the relevant section in VCCS Policy, visit the link below, and scroll down to 3.5.3 Student Engagement Hours (C). 

https://go.boarddocs.com/va/vccs/Board.nsf/goto?open&id=9RFN5E7CBB34

Charles Errico, Ph.D. is professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College and can be reached at:  cerrico@nvcc.edu

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