Minutes of the
President’s Cabinet Zoom Meeting
January 25, 2021
Minutes of the December 21, 2020 meeting were approved as written.
John Capps, Muriel Mickles, Lewis Bryant, David Lightfoot, Chris Bryant, Kris Ogden, Jeffrey Sydenstricker, Randall Franklin, Elizabeth Narehood, Will Sandidge, Cynthia Deutsch, Jim Tuite, Raylene Cope, Sarah Jarrett, Dianne Sykes
Data As Of Today (1/25/2021)
CGC Consent Agenda Items
The Future of CVCC Student Computing (LIGHTFOOT)
David began by stating he met with Muriel, Cindy, Jason, and William last Friday to discuss the future of CVCC student computing at his request because he believes a plan is needed that addresses the future of student computing. He stated, during the fall term, emails were written about options and how to proceed, but no decision was made. He stated he was pleased to report that they all agreed on a path forward, and he along with Muriel here today, are seeking concurrence from the President’s Cabinet.
David stated every aspect of the College has been impacted and everyone has and will continue to innovate and adapt to the “new normal.” He stated with student computing, the shared computer model that has been relied upon for at least the last 20 years, is not effective during the pandemic, and he believes its value will be limited in the post-pandemic world. David stated just as the rest of the world will be forever changed because of the pandemic, so too will higher education. He stated although the changes are a direct result of the pandemic, the winds of change were blowing before the pandemic as K-12 students began using Chromebooks to access online educational materials and online applications.
David reported, here at CVCC, steps have been taken to provide computers, not internet-access devices like Chromebooks, but robust computers to the students via the laptop loaner program. He stated this is an effective program, but under current rules, it is not a viable long-term solution without non-state funding. David stated the laptops that are being loaned were either donated or bought with CARES funds, and maybe the CVCC foundation can continue funding this at some level. He stated, as he understands it, state funds that the College relies upon cannot be used to purchase loaner PCs. David reported the College has over 250 loaner laptops, 100 are new with warranties, making loaner laptops hopefully available for the next four or five years. He stated this program has been and will continue to be an essential component of the proposed plan.
David stated in the current pandemic world and probably in the post-pandemic world, a PC will be an essential resource for all students. The PC, with internet connectivity, will be used;
- to participate in the class
- to access online content that replaces the textbook, just as in K-12
- to access online applications
- to collaborate with faculty and other students
- to have local applications that allow the student to be productive without internet access
David reported the K-12 systems are providing students with Chromebooks that replace their textbooks which to him is a natural evolution as K-12 has always provided the textbooks for their students. He stated with a Chromebook they are still providing access to the information, just electronically. David stated, in Higher Education, the students are responsible for purchasing their textbooks and requiring students to purchase a PC instead of textbooks is the same evolution as with the K-12 systems—the cost of burden hasn’t changed.
David stated he has reached out to Ryan McNamara about using Financial Aid to purchase a PC, and he provided the VCCS Financial Aid Bookstore Policy which includes the following, “Colleges have the discretion to establish policies and procedures pertaining to the purchase of course-related electronics (e.g., laptops, tablets, cameras, and scientific calculators), uniforms, and tools. Policies and procedures pertaining to course-related electronics, uniforms, and tools must address the types and frequency of items students may purchase.” David stated this policy is from 2016, and it addresses the use of financial aid at the Bookstore, and although it is good for CVCC students to purchase through the bookstore, he doesn’t think this limits the students from using financial aid to purchase a PC from other vendors.
David stated if this model of requiring students to purchase a PC is embraced, it will not completely eliminate the need for virtual computer labs as they will be needed for specialized software. He reported the College is using a virtual computer lab for the Communications Design classes this semester to provide students access to Adobe Creative Cloud; however, he doesn’t believe it is the best use of the College’s resources to create virtual computer labs that emulate CVCC’s current computer classrooms, to provide access to software that is available to enrolled students at no additional costs e.g. Office 365.
David stated the instructional impact of this decision cannot be understated, but the financial impact is worthy of consideration. He reported the College’s shared student computer model consumes the largest portion of its technology resources with an average being $250,000 spent a year on student PCs and the additional required components e.g. network switches. David stated embracing student-owned laptops will allow the College to eliminate its computer classrooms and should reduce its annual technology spend by over $200,000. He reported the majority of these funds are ETF (Equipment Trust Funds) which can be repurposed into new CTE programs and/or to enhance the College’s current programs.
David stated he offers the following motion: CVCC will require students to have a laptop that meets the minimum requirements as stated on the CVCC website beginning with the fall 2021 semester. Understanding this is dramatic cultural change that will require time to mature, the loaner laptop program will remain available during the time of transition.
John stated he appreciated the work of David, Muriel, Cindy, Jason, and William but he would like to see the projected cost for the student and particularly for students on Financial Aid. John stated before the College embarks on a dramatic approach such as this, more input is needed from the faculty to get their perspective. He stated this dialog can begin here today but broader representation is needed before the College embraces such a change that directly affects the faculty and especially students. David stated they were all in agreement that faculty needed to be involved but were unsure whom to approach first, President’s Cabinet or faculty. John stated it was the right call to first initiate the dialog with the Cabinet for discussion but not for approval. John stated a more far-reaching discussion (especially with the faculty) must be engaged before approval. He stated a mechanism must be decided upon that will engage the students’ opinions as this would change the fundamental way in which the College interacts with its students.
John invited the Cabinet to provide their input realizing this is only a discussion today. Jim invited David to attend the upcoming Faculty Association meeting which will be held on February 16 and talk about this proposal. Jim stated one advantage of community colleges is low cost and while it may not affect the financial aid students as much, what about the burden this may cause to the non-financial aid students. David stated the PC that would be recommended for purchase cost between $300-$400 and would replace the textbooks. He stated the College’s current model is that the PC enhances the textbooks. John stated this is another reason faculty input is needed, and they must be fully onboard. He reported significant progress has been made with OER but it is not across the board for all classes. Muriel stated she agreed the faculty and student input are needed to make the right decision.
John stated he suspects most students that take classes at CVCC already have a PC because the demand of loaner laptops (approximately 100 loaned) and hotspots (approximately 50 loaned) has not been overwhelming.
John stated with this new environment, he agrees with David that not as many computer labs will be needed. He stated for Lewis to include this in the upcoming renovation project. Muriel stated she believes more of a remote environment for faculty, staff, and students will continue even after the pandemic is over.
John stated at an earlier meeting today, it was decided that ETF monies would be used to replace some of the computers that are here on Campus and the CARES Act funding would be switched to cover the loaner laptops.
Raylene stated even if not as many computer labs were needed, one idea would be to provide rooms that would be a quiet place for students to study or take tests.
Chris asked what type of computers the area colleges/universities are requiring their students to have and what are the other VCCS colleges requiring. David stated he was not sure concerning area colleges but CVCC would be the first college in the VCCS to require their students to have PCs. David stated the College now has a lot of computers in labs/classrooms (only being used one or two hours a day) that are consuming a lot of utility expense and that money could be used for other purposes such as new programs which would help to increase enrollment. John stated this is an important consideration but feels in the near future, there will be a reduction in the number of computers on Campus. He stated this proposal is such a radical one for the students, it must be thoroughly investigated.
Cynthia stated the College should wait before making any decisions to see the final proposal of the VCCS’ strategic plan to see how CVCC will incorporate all of the recommendations.
John stated earlier in this meeting Jim invited David to the upcoming Faculty Association meeting. He also asked Muriel to schedule focus groups and invite student to get their prospective.
John stated one topic of the recent ACOP meeting was the colleges’ approach for the fall 2021 semester. He stated, at this time, he does not believe CVCC classes will be held on Campus as they were pre-pandemic or as they were in fall 2020, but somewhere between those two extremes. John stated he feels classes will be more like this past fall semester. He asked cabinet members to share their feelings on how they think the fall 2021 classes will be. Muriel stated the vaccine rollout seems to be much slower than anticipated, and there are those that do not want to take the vaccine. She feels the fall 2021 classes will be similar to this spring’s. Muriel stated she would like to have a few more in-person classes but there are so many uncertainties. John stated he agreed with her but wanted everyone to be ready to pivot at any time to move classes from face-to-face to remote. He stated it seems the vaccine rollout has been slower here in this service region than other areas in the state. Jim stated, as of today, Virginia ranks 48th
in its rollout of the vaccine.
John stated he would like to discuss Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) uses and restrictions. He reported CVCC has already received $908,909 for emergency student aid and $3,202,698 in institutional funding. He stated now the decision must be made how to use it to the best advantage to the students, faculty, and staff. John stated he would like to solicit suggestions today but no final decisions will be made. He stated all of this funding must relate to the disruptions made to the College because of the pandemic.
Muriel asked if the money could be used for faculty salaries. John stated the first CARES act funding could not be used for salaries but Congress has reversed that decision. John hopes to go back and capture some of the first CARES act money to use for previous salaries.
Cynthia asked if the funding could be used for tuition relating to classes being taught from a remote environment. Lewis stated he was unsure but possibly for emergency scholarships that are tied to remote learning.
Jim asked if this funding could be used to offset some of the Foundation’s expenses. John stated the funding cannot be used to build endowments, buildings, nor executive salaries. Chris stated from what he has read, the funding cannot be used for the Foundation but it could be used for student emergency grants who are taking virtual classes. John stated the College is required to use the $908,909 that is earmarked for emergency student aid, but some of the $3,202,698 could also be used for this purpose. Jim asked if the money could be used for infrastructure improvement which would support this virtual environment. David stated perhaps a contractor could be hired to find out if or where any Wi-Fi dead spots are on Campus. He stated another suggestion would be to purchase cameras for the classrooms to help with vitural learning. David stated this would need to be discussed with the faculty.
Muriel asked if this money could be used for staff salaries. John stated he thinks it could. Elizabeth stated she agreed with using it for the student emergency funding and also for the IT staff’s salaries as they have spent a lot of time on computers, updates, and wireless infrastructure. She also suggested using it for Patti’s staff and the loaner program staff. Lewis stated he has reviewed all of this but it’s not a significant amount of money.
John stated the College needs to get more creative on how scholarships are awarded. He stated the Beacon of Hope is reaching full maturity and assuming G3 is going to be approved by the General Assembly, this will mean the state will cover all CTE approved programs of study. John stated scholarships that have been awarded in the past will no longer be needed and that funding must be diverted to other avenues that will benefit students.
Sarah asked if there was a way to poll the students to find out their greatest needs. She also asked if it could be used as a micro-grant to pay off student accounts (ex: students who withdrew because of the pandemic). John stated the first CARES funding did not allow for this but not sure about the current funding. Sarah stated students who are 17 or older which includes the dual enrolled students do not get the stimulus money. John stated the first CARES funding could not be used for this.
John questioned Lewis if he knew whether the VCCS will be providing more detailed information on how to spend this money. Lewis stated the first CARES funding left a lot of unanswered questions, and he is uncertain if those questions will be answered. John stated they all may have to read the legislative information to determine how the money can be spent.
Chris asked when is the deadline for spending this money. John and Lewis both agreed it is December 2021 (a year from when the money was awarded). Chris stated he read the money cannot be used on marketing but could it be used for a new CVCC website. John stated he feels everyone will say a new website is definitely needed. He stated the website is now geared toward in-person classes and students are using this information to try and interact with navigators, counselors, and faculty.
Elizabeth stated there was some interest last year in having boot-camp type classes in the summer to help new students get acquainted with the College. Muriel stated that she and the AVPs are looking at this as eight-week summer classes. Muriel reported she is talking with someone this upcoming week to see if the money could be used for tuition.
Chris stated another idea of his is to partner with Horizon Behavioral Health as he feels there is a dire need for mental health counseling during this time. Randall stated he feels there are some students that really could use some help. Raylene agreed and stated students are struggling with all the changes this pandemic has caused. Kris discussed the fall survey and stated the students indicated some of their concerns were job loss, work, and financial obligations, and the next concern being mental health.
Kris stated an idea that she had was related to the course schedule. She stated the College uses Ad Astra to best schedule classes for students. Kris stated Ad Astra uses historical data to predict what the College should be doing, and in this environment the College does not have this. She stated perhaps hiring a consultant to look at how the College can effectively schedule classes for students in the upcoming fall semester would be worthwhile. Kris stated Ad Astra may have other tools to which the College currently does not subscribe. John stated Ad Astra is such a sophisticated group, he would be surprised if they do not have anything available to help during this pandemic. He asked Kris to follow-up with her contact to find if there are any resources that the College can use.
John asked Muriel if she would reach out to Damien Cabezas who is the CEO of Horizon Behavioral Health and see if they could provide counseling services for CVCC students.
David stated his son who is a student at George Mason University participated in a virtual meeting that emulates CVCC’s Convocation. He stated everyone used an avatar when they presented and then there were breakouts where students talked amongst themselves. David stated maybe this could be used at graduation. John stated he had discussed with Chris about having a virtual graduation this year as he feels the College cannot go another year without graduation.
Lewis suggested perhaps the funding could be used for bookstore vouchers for an approved list of technology items such as the laptops David mentioned earlier, hotspots, wireless keyboard, mics, etc. John stated a laundry list could be created for whatever the funding allowed. Lewis reported another suggestion included adding more water fountains and touch-free fixtures in the restrooms. Lewis stated is there a possibility for a class that goes beyond what SDV 100 teaches. Muriel stated Distance Education does have a short video on how to use the technology in a remote environment and maybe this could be expanded and more in depth. She stated this must be free to the students as not many are using the current video. Lewis asked if this could be an elective class. John stated probably but would not count in any curriculum. John stated this is similar to what Elizabeth mentioned as a boot camp.
Cynthia stated a recommendation in the VCCS strategic plan includes a revamping of the SDV 100 course with each college doing what is best for them.
Cynthia stated there is a need for childcare and asked would it be possible to create a specific fund for childcare subsidy for remote students who are struggling with childcare needs. She stated this may help attract more students who have to stay home to keep younger children. John stated this is certainly a legitimate need but a closer look at regulations will be necessary.
John discussed the revamping of the SDV 100 course and stated it was also a recommendation of the Enrollment Task Force three years ago but maybe this time it will gain some traction. Cynthia reported she has draft recommendations for the VCCS strategic plan and will be glad to share. She stated the draft recommendations will be presented for a final approval to the State Board meeting in March. Cynthia stated if the plan receives approval, it will go in effect either June or July. John thanked Cynthia for all of her hard work on the taskforce.
John stated this topic of discussion has ended for now but will continue sometime in the future.
John opened the floor for anyone that has something to share.
Lewis discussed a VCCS Code of Ethics in their bylaws that the College is required to have for financial and internal controls. Lewis stated he will email a copy to all cabinet members and can address this at the next meeting. John stated he sent out an email several years ago addressing the code of ethics.
Chris stated everyone will receive an email today concerning the kickoff of the Employee Campaign. He stated the campaign will begin today and continue for the next two months.
John discussed enrollment and stated as of today, the College is down almost 14% but there is still 141 dual enrollment FTEs that need to be added. John stated Michael said in spring semesters, the College usually retains about 90% of the previous fall dual enrollment FTEs. John stated if this metric remains true, enrollment should be better than the -14%. He stated the VCCS report shows the regular student enrollment for CVCC only down 9.5% which is good news.
John reported CVCC will receive $500,000 from the VCCS to proceed to the next stage (detailed planning phase) for the renovations. He stated this had been postponed as the General Assembly un-allotted that funding. But the VCCS discovered they had the money that could be redirected to CVCC.
Jim stated there may be more of a discrepancy in the dual enrollment FTEs this spring compared to fall as the K-12 school districts taught English 1 and 2 in fall but political science (required for seniors) was taught in only one school.
John stated as the College continues to labor on, he is grateful for everything the cabinet members are doing for the good of the students.
The meeting ended at 2:30 p.m. The next Cabinet meeting will be held on February 8, 2021.