Educators and administrators in higher education today experience somewhat of a double bind. Colleges must operate on extremely tight budgets, with fewer faculty and staff to share management responsibilities inside and outside the classroom. At the same time, as higher education becomes more rigorously data- driven and results-oriented, faculty and staff must devote more attention to ensuring that methods remain state-of-the-art. 
This initiative will offer professional development for faculty and staff, exposing them to a variety of training opportunities—from academic advisement and customer service, to performance-based decision-making. We will also explore ways to strengthen recognition of faculty and staff leadership in their fields, college, and community. By 2016, our hope is to provide all faculty and staff with opportunities to participate, so that we can even better model for our students the value of lifelong learning and always aspire to become better at what we do.
Activity Areas of Focus:
Survey all NVCC units to determine the training needs that will support the college’s strategic goals.
Create a faculty and staff development and recognition plan that incorporates the Center for Teaching, union- funded professional development, and other providers.
Seek external funding to support the high-cost elements of the faculty and staff development plan.
Develop assessment methods that track participation and outcomes.
Many colleges are exploring ways to strengthen civic engagement among students, faculty and staff. The reasons are both philosophical (that higher education has a significant role to play in building an engaged citizenry that supports a more vibrant democracy) and pragmatic (that these experiential learning opportunities can yield positive student learning and employment outcomes for students).
NVCC already has an active student body and engaged faculty and staff, with more than 39 student clubs and student-centered organizations, and more than 100 faculty, staff, and students participating in campus- and community-based volunteer and mentoring activities. In recent years, the Behavioral and Social Sciences Division pioneered theme-based service learning in which more than 53 students have worked on course-related community service opportunities that they self-identified and designed. By 2016, NVCC will expand its civic engagement efforts, so that more students, faculty, and staff can benefit from these experiences on and off campus.
Activity Areas of Focus:
Reach out to the Student Government Association (SGA) to engage all student clubs in dialogue about ways that they can serve as campus and community activists and advocates.
Connect faculty and staff with community residents via online lectures on topics of mutual interest.
Expand the mentoring program to include more student, alumni, and community/industry mentors.
Strengthen collaboration among AmeriCorps and academic divisions to create more volunteer activities and service learning opportunities for our students.
Increase partnerships with community institutions, including sister schools to model the Brother to Brother and Sister to Sister mentoring programs that support students from underrepresented groups.
Community colleges are primary entry points to higher education for many underrepresented groups. They enroll 44 % of African American, 45% of Asian or Pacific Islander, and 51% and 54%, respectively, of Hispanic and Native American undergraduates. They enroll 42% of first- generation college students. Bottom line, they represent more accessible and affordable post-secondary options for many, especially those from middle- to low-income families. And their accessibility parlays beyond learning. It also can help lift people, especially those born into poor families, out of poverty. Indeed, the effect can be dramatic, with some recent studies showing for those born into the poorest fifth of American families, a college degree gives them an 80% chance of bettering their economic status during their lifetimes.
A commitment to providing open access and opportunity for all underlies NVCC’s mission and values. While our campus has grown more diverse in recent years, more focus is needed to boost representation among key racial and ethnic groups, as well as those who are economically disadvantaged. By 2016, this initiative will help ensure a more inclusive student body that represents the diverse demographics of our service region.
Activity Areas of Focus:
Expand outreach to students from underrepresented groups to increase awareness, engagement and participation in Bridge to College retention activities and programs.
Establish an engagement plan based on student needs and interests. The plan will include activities (first- generation club, peer tutoring), outreach strategies, and student outcomes.
Identify key community partners including the School District of Waterbury, New Opportunities, YMCA, Opportunities Industrialization Center, and Brass City Harvest to collaborate with the Bridge to College Office to engage students from underrepresented groups.