This is the second issue of Chancellor's Update for 2014-15. This e-newsletter offers news from the Chancellor's Office with a districtwide viewpoint. If there are topics that you would like to know more about, please let me or Judy Iannaccone, director of public affairs and publications, know.
One of the questions that I am frequently asked concerns my vision for the district. Answering such a question is complicated for a variety of reasons. However, it is an important, even critical, question that deserves a thoughtful and comprehensive answer.
Before I answer though, it is worthwhile to examine the concept of vision and what a vision means to an organization. Vision is defined as "the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be." When people think of vision in terms of an organization, they are referring to a picture of the organization at some future point in time where it is enjoying even more success than at present. In short, organizational vision points the way to what is needed to achieve desired future accomplishments or outcomes for an organization. It also answers the question of what an organization is trying to achieve. In the organizational context, a vision statement is used to communicate that vision both internally and externally.
Mission and vision statements are often confused. A mission statement describes the purpose of an organization. In our case, because our district is a part of the public system of community colleges in California, our official mission statement is determined by the State Legislature and it is incorporated into the Education Code. Obviously, we create a local version of that mission statement, but it still contains the same basic components as prescribed in Education Code. A vision statement speaks to the current values of the organization as well as to the future aspirations of that organization. There is no equivalent type of statement in Education Code and we do not currently have a district vision statement (the colleges don't have one either).
It seems to me that one of the reasons why people frequently ask the question about vision is that they want a visionary leader. They want the person in the top spot in the organization to provide a clear direction and a compelling picture of the future for that organization, such as what Steve Jobs did for Apple. The desire for a visionary thinker at the top of the organization is certainly understandable given the context of our culture that emphasizes individual accomplishment to such a high degree. Unfortunately, there was only one Steve Jobs and the talents he expressed are rare. Fortunately, however, the best way to achieve an effective vision for an organization is not by individual decree, it is by collective effort.
The value of creating a collective organizational vision is that it allows people in the organization to dream together about what they can achieve in the future. It provides a stronger sense of ownership and a clearer focus on what needs to change to achieve that vision. Although we do not have a district vision statement, we do have a district strategic plan that resulted in five goals that have been adopted as our district goals.
These five goals are:
- RSCCD will assess the educational needs of the communities served by RSCCD and will adjust instructional programs, offerings, and support services and will allocate resources as needed to optimize the alignment of students' needs with services and fiscal resources.
- RSCCD will assess the educational needs of the communities served by RSCCD and then pursue partnerships with educational institutions, public agencies, non-profit organizations, and business/industry/labor to collaboratively meet those needs.
- RSCCD will annually improve the rates of course completion and completion of requirements for transfer, degrees, certificates, and diplomas.
- RSCCD will support innovations and initiatives that result in quantifiable improvement in student access, preparedness, and success.
- RSCCD will use a cycle of integrated planning that will demonstrate the effective use of resources.
If you examine these five goals that were developed through a collaborative process that involved all constituent groups, there are certain values implicit in these goals and future aspirations that can be gleaned from them. For example, the first two goals speak to access and to responding to the particular needs of our local community. Our service area is diverse in its population demographics as well as in the mix of business and industry within it. That diversity is not static and we need to keep track of changes and respond to them. We should always be in tune with the needs of the communities we serve and seek to strengthen our partnerships with our community. Realizing the vision for the first goal would mean that we have a high participation rate in our community. For the second goal, we would enjoy a corresponding rate and variety of partnerships and be viewed by the local community stakeholders as a valued and essential partner.
The third and fourth goals are concerned with different elements of student success. Goal three is focused on being accountable for improving our rates of success by setting benchmarks and measuring our progress against those measures. Goal four encourages the creation of a culture that values innovative ideas and initiatives that potentially contribute to greater levels of student success. We need to empower people to come up with new ideas and to try new things with the foreknowledge that many of these ideas may not succeed. Hopefully, the ideas that succeed will more than compensate for that reality.
The fifth goal refers to a cycle of integrated planning and the effective use of resources. Integrated planning requires the use of metrics to measure performance and progress that, in turn, is intended to result in better decision making as to how to use our limited resources to their best effect. It also suggests that we follow sustainable practices to conserve resources and to live within our means, financial and otherwise, as an organization.
In my view, these five goals emphasize the way to a better future for this district. If we can accomplish these goals, then we will be on a path to success in which we play an ever vital role in the communities we serve by building strong and lasting partnerships, by providing innovative and sustainable programs and services, and, most importantly, by closing the achievement gap for traditionally underrepresented students and by continually increasing the success rate of all students served by our colleges.
As I'm sure most people are aware, SAC and SCC are undergoing their comprehensive accreditation reviews and site visits this semester. These visits occur every six years and last for approximately four days. The dates of the visits are from October 6 through October 9. Representatives from the two college site visit teams will visit the district on the morning of October 6. Both colleges have done an amazing amount of work in preparation for this review and I am cautiously optimistic that both colleges will come through with flying colors (or at least with no major problems).
Board of Trustees Meetings
It has come to my attention that some people may not be aware of the change in format that has occurred at our Board of Trustees meetings. For many years, our Board of Trustees meetings were scheduled with the closed session portion in the middle of the board meeting. That scheduling discouraged some people from attending the board meetings because they didn't want to sit and wait for the closed session to end since there was no clear time frame for when that would occur. For more than a year now, our Board of Trustees has been meeting with the closed session occurring at the end of the meeting. This allows for greater access and more timely meetings and it is meant to encourage the public to attend these meetings. I hope that more of you will take advantage of this more favorable change in format and make an effort to attend a meeting.
All the best,