On August 16, faculty and staff from all of NOVA’s six campuses gathered at the Ernst Center on the Annandale Campus for the College’s Fall Convocation. The theme this year was “Renewing Our Commitment to Access and Success.”
Speakers focused on the importance of community colleges and the impact that NOVA makes on the Northern Virginia region and its 77,000 students. During the event, there was also an emphasis on the why – highlighting the reasons people become educators and the purpose NOVA has served in the community over the years.
President Scott Ralls emphasized that NOVA is different and therefore, will continue to do things differently than other higher education institutions to ensure the success of its students. He said there is a huge contrast between students who attend community colleges and students who attend four-year universities – one of those differences being that many of NOVA’s students come from the bottom of the income bracket.
“As a community college, the most important thing we provide is necessary economic mobility to help people get above the poverty line. We are entering our 51st year of NOVA. For a long time community colleges have gone unnoticed. People pay attention to us because of who we serve,” Ralls said. “Most of our students come from the bottom of the income bracket. Just delivering your lecture or doing what others do at other colleges is not enough. We need to think more about the context of our programs and pathways, not focus on each campus, courses or discipline.
“This is the year that we are building our new strategic plan. As we move forward to creating a pathway for every student that attends NOVA, we should focus on how we can impact every student and reach each community that we serve. I think there is great validity in trying. I’m excited to be a part of NOVA. As long as we keep our students inspired, NOVA will be the greatest community college in the United States.”
Keynote speaker Dr. Karen Stout, president and CEO of Achieving the Dream, also spoke about the why and NOVA’s projected goals to continue faculty engagement. She also highlighted the role of faculty in student success.
“The purpose of being a community college is to support the well-being of one community at a time,” Stout said. “It is essential that all faculty are fully engaged. This is a time to move forward collectively.”
A number of faculty and staff members were also recognized during convocation. The event also included an overview of safety and security on campus presented by NOVA Police Chief Daniel Dusseau and cluster meetings for faculty members and different departments.