NOVA is now in full swing. The first day of fall classes was August 21. However, just before classes, NOVA hosted its annual Fall Convocation on August 16 at the Annandale Campus.
The event began with a welcome from College Senate Chair Maggie Emblom-Callahan and a safety briefing from NOVA’s Office of Public Safety.
A trio of NOVA history professors – Charlie Errico (WO), Ray Bailey (MA) and Jimmie McClellan (AL)–shared a history of the College. They ended their presentation by sharing what NOVA has meant to each of them.
“I stay because what we do here is important,” McClellan said. “What is really important is what happens in the classroom. When I walk into the classroom, it’s just me and the students. It’s magical.”
College Board Member Susan Kearney presented Dr. Richard Semmler (AN) with the inaugural Semmler Award for Exemplary Service, only the second medallion award established in NOVA’s 50-year history. Semmler has given nearly $1 million to the NVCC Educational Foundation and donated time and resources to the local community.
NOVA President Scott Ralls wrapped up the morning session by highlighting the importance of being “Boldly NOVA!” Ralls talked about a Stanford economist’s study that has come to be known as “The Chetty Study,” released in January. The study produced a Social Mobility Index that finds that colleges are engines of upward mobility.
“Here’s what you should know: NOVA is one of the top 100 community colleges in the United States in terms of social mobility,” Ralls said. “Something else you should know, if you look at the percentage of students over our history who came to us who were in the bottom 20 percent of socio-economic status, as adults, after coming to us, had merged into the top 20 percent.
“That’s what we’re all about. We’re not just any other institution of higher education,” he said. “We are Boldly NOVA. That’s who we are.”
Ralls said that being a gateway to the American dream is just not sufficient. Our Achilles’ heel is that we have thousands of students registering who, three years from now, over 50 percent of those will not be enrolled with us anymore, they will not have finished, they will not have graduated and they will not have transferred.
Ralls relayed a conversation with a parent frustrated that her child transferred and learned she needed three years to complete her degree. He spoke to a veteran who felt NOVA did not offer programs for those who just need some classes to get into the workforce.
To address these issues, NOVA has partnered with George Mason University to create Advance: A NOVA-Mason Partnership to make the pathway better. NOVA signed a similar partnership with Radford on August 28. Ralls also noted that the College is also engaging with employers in a way it never has.
Finally, Ralls relayed a conversation with parents at a NOVA volleyball game. They said their daughter was an excellent student. She thought carefully about her college options and chose NOVA. She was devastated when her guidance counselor told her she was too smart to come to NOVA.
“She came here anyway, and she came boldly,” Ralls said. “Let us be bold as well. We need to tell the world about what’s here. Tell them you don’t settle when you work, teach or become a student at NOVA.”
Ralls introduced the six pillars that the College will highlight going forward. NOVA:
- Is a springboard to opportunity
- Is a big school experience with a small school feel
- Is relevant and in demand
- Is an outstanding value
- Offers real-world diversity
- Has experts in the classroom and in the field
NOVA Video Services captured the 2017 Fall Convocation. To access, go online to http://eli.nvcc.edu/videoservices/. Select Faculty/Staff Resources, log in using your myNOVA username/password and the video is at the top in the new videos rotation.