Over the summer, each member of the President’s staff will take over this Wednesday Message to share his or her response to change, learning, students and community colleges. They will reflect on how swirling changes in higher education impact their work, their office/division, and their focus on student success. This week’s message comes from Heze Simmons, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administrative Services.
The Inevitability of Change
Today’s rising student expectations and escalating costs, coupled with new instructional delivery systems and stringent governmental regulations, point to the inevitability of change. We face these forces during a time of significant decline in funding resources. The way we respond to these changes will determine MCC’s financial condition now and in the future.
Our Board recently approved a new strategic plan which is tight, firmly grounded in evidence and focused on four core directions for reshaping the college. The strategic plan is integrated with the facilities master plan, enrollment and completion plan, technology plan as well as other key operating processes. This alignment of plans provides opportunities for creativity and innovation and also necessitates greater accountability for our financial resource deployment decisions.
The budget development process has been modified to ensure that our strategic plan drives resource allocation. It calls for the use of enhanced analytics for budget development, greater flexibility in support of new initiatives and a far more collaborative approach than past years. A strategic, aligned and institution-wide budget approach will move MCC forward by providing the financial resources needed to support the completion agenda.
Facility planning is also changing - with a greater focus on the student completion agenda. The renovations of Building 9 were designed with student success as the primary goal. Advanced learning environments were designed-in to provide flexible teaching-learning experiences. These renovations are an excellent example of energy efficient and constructive re-use of existing space including the addition of 10 new classrooms within the same footprint.
Inevitably, changing regulations imposed on us by external agencies necessitate new ways of doing business. A consultative approach taken with external partners enabled MCC to conclude in a rational way the elimination of post-employment benefits from the budget. Federal and VA regulations may also lead to changes in how we approach veteran services - working to promote student success while complying with stringent and ever-changing regulations.
Terry O’Banion notes that attempts at substantive change in higher education often fail because employees “…have had few opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge required for major change.” Administrative Services has embarked on a leadership development program to prepare us for managing these changes. The recent implementation of a community policing model– Public Safety working with the county, residence life, and others to best meet MCC’s needs - is an example of innovative leadership that is moving change forward at the college.
In essence the work of Administrative Services can be summed up as one of actively participating in the process of change and ensuring that our declining fiscal resources are allocated in support of the emerging educational landscape. We embrace new ways of doing business and look forward to continued conversations on MCC’s evolving financial picture.
I look forward to your thoughts and invite you to share them via the President’s Blog.