Wednesday, 23 October 2019 16:10

McInnis: Richmond Community College on the road to 'recovery and discovery'

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Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis delivers the State of the College address during the annual Convocation on Wednesday. See more photos on the RO's Facebook page. Richmond Community College President Dr. Dale McInnis delivers the State of the College address during the annual Convocation on Wednesday. See more photos on the RO's Facebook page. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

HAMLET — Recovery and discovery was the theme of Dr. Dale McInnis’ State of the College report during Richmond Community College’s annual Convocation on Wednesday.

Recovery, the college president said, has been the theme of the past year between dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence; and a recent cyber attack.

It was the work on the latter that led to Lee Montrose, chief technology officer, being named Staff Person of the Year.

“The recovery process began immediately,” McInnis said.

The business office worked to make sure everyone got paid for July and college staffers were hand-registering students for the upcoming fall semester.

“Everybody stepped up to support each other and to get ready for the fall,” McInnis said.

Montrose and the rest of the IT staff worked for 16 consecutive days to help “rebuild, realign, reestablish the system,” the president added, before calling for a round of applause for all who helped in the recovery.

As a result of the work, he said, the college’s enrollment did not decline from last year, as may have been expected.

“Those villains from parts unknown who attempted to destroy us only made us stronger,” McInnis said. “That’s because after recovery, comes discovery.”

The college has since began to utilize Amazon Web Services and One Drive in place of previous technologies.

“And in the year to come, we’ve got a lot more discoveries that we’re going to make together,” he said. “And we’re going to help our community discover more about our college, their potential and their future.”

McInnis touted several of the college’s recent initiatives, including Finish to the Future, which has the goal to assist the 11,000 people over the age of 25 without a high school diploma in Richmond and Scotland counties.

“ ...they have to discover us … and find that they need this to have a better life for themselves and their families,” he said.

The college is also “being discovered” by new companies to help with workforce training - one of the missions of the community college system - and by new colleges for articulation agreements.

RCC recently announced an agreement with UNC-Chapel Hill and McInnis hinted at one coming soon with East Carolina University.

McInnis’ theme was also woven into a speech by Jennifer Haygood, executive vice president and chief of staff of the N.C. Community College System.

“Richmond Community College has distinguished itself from its peers in multiple ways and you all are the reason for that,” she said. “RCC is important, not only to this community, but as an important piece of a broader statewide puzzle.”

The state has a goal to increase the number of residents ages 25-44 with a degree or credential beyond high school from 1.3 million to 2 million by 2030.

Haygood said projections show that two-thirds of the state’s jobs will require that within the next decade.

“Confronted with the task of increasing that number … it becomes even more evident that, to serve our students and fulfill our mission, we must change and adapt how we’re doing business,” she said. 

One of the strategies for that, she said, is to be proactive in attracting students.

While many colleges have seen drops in enrollment since the Recession, partly due to the competitive atmosphere, Richmond was one of two that saw a spike last year.

Haygood credited the RichmondCC Guarantee, offering and scheduling classes with the students’ needs in mind, and offering opportunities to high school students for the increase.

“You aren’t doing the same things you were doing (a decade ago),” she said. “RCC has implemented new ideas and improved on old ones.

“We need to continue that mindset here and expand it system-wide.”

Colleges must also adapt programs to what employers want and students need, and to look for ways to leverage partnerships, Haygood continued.

“Relying on partners is not a sign of weakness,” she said, “it is a sign of understanding your unique competitive advantage being strategic.”

RCC’s partnership with Caldwell Community College for the truck-driver training course is one example of that, she said.

“I commend Richmond Community College for its innovation,” she said. “You all are indeed changing and adapting. Take pride in that positive momentum, but remain vigilant against complacency.

“Change is our only constant and the very prosperity of this community, and indeed this state, depends on it.”

Other award recipients included:

Faculty of the Year- Ian Allred, math instructor

Alumni of the Year- Dr. Yolanda VanRiel, interim dept. chair of nursing at North Carolina Central University and nursing graduate of RichmondCC

President’s Award- Myra Locklear, administrative assistant, Honeycutt Center