Minutes of the
President’s Cabinet Zoom Meeting
April 5, 2021
Minutes of the March 22, 2021, meeting were approved with the deletion of Kris’ name in the following statement. (Jim discussed the Online Virginia Network and stated he along with Cynthia, and Ed McGee took an entry level reviewers course on quality matters.)
John Capps, Muriel Mickles, Lewis Bryant, David Lightfoot, Chris Bryant, Kris Ogden, William Wilkerson, Randall Franklin, Elizabeth Narehood, Will Sandidge, Cynthia Deutsch, Jim Tuite, Dianne Sykes
Data As Of Yesterday (4/5/2021)
Consent Agenda Items: None
Combating Phishing (LIGHTFOOT)
David began by stating, since COVID, phishing attempts are up 667% according to Barracuda Networks—a company that sells products and services to protect against phishing. Although the College has received many phishing attacks, thankfully the impact has been minimal. He stated he attributes this to a knowledgeable workforce and technology safeguards. But as is always the case, more can be done to protect the College. David stated protection comes at a cost, and the cost may not be monetary.
David stated today he is presenting two protection practices for the Cabinet’s consideration. Both will limit the ability for hackers to obtain a directory listing of all CVCC faculty and staff for the purpose of phishing.
Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)
David stated MFA for Office 365 is enforced on many of our faculty and staff accounts. He stated while he is thankful for those who have embraced this extra level of protection, there are still many who haven’t. MFA for Office 365 does more than just reduce the phishing threat; it makes it difficult for a user’s Office 365 account to be compromised. He stated in the context of phishing, this means a hacker can’t leverage a compromised account to obtain a directory listing of all CVCC faculty and staff. With this information, the hacker can conduct phishing attacks against all faculty and staff and conduct spear phishing attacks against targeted faculty and staff members.
David stated to thwart this threat, MFA for all CVCC faculty and staff Office 365 accounts need to be enforced. However, there is one caveat to this; the cell phone has been adopted as the second factor used with MFA. He stated some employees either don’t have a cell phone or they don’t want to use it. David stated it is his recommendation to enforce MFA for all CVCC faculty and staff Office 365 accounts, acknowledging the College will have to address any that can’t or won’t use their cell phone as the second factor. He stated he doesn’t believe it is best to postpone the decision for the exceptions. He stated he will bring back a recommendation for exceptions as a better understanding is gained of the number of exceptions and their role at the College.
Employee Directory on our Website
David stated a hacker doesn’t have to compromise a faculty or staff member’s Office 365 account to obtain a directory listing of all our faculty and staff, as this information is posted on CVCC’s public website. He stated if enforcing MFA on the College’s Office 365 accounts only mitigated the phishing threat, there is no reason to enforce MFA if the College’s directory information remains on its public website. But MFA secures other information within Office 365, so it is important regardless.
David stated the counter argument to removing the employee directory from CVCC’s public website is accessibility—meaning the public need to know the contact information of the faculty and staff. In this context, the public is someone desiring a specific service and/or to learn more about our offerings, not someone that has been working with a specific faculty or staff member. He stated in these cases, hopefully, the faculty or staff member has provided his/her direct contact information to the person with whom he/she is working.
David stated CVCC’s website and to some degree its phone systems are designed primarily around services, with contact information for the department that provides the service. For example, both Chris Jordan and Landon Naulty support the IT helpdesk. The IT helpdesk has a dedicated phone number as do Chris and Landon. Our intent is for people desiring helpdesk services to call the helpdesk number depending upon the severity of the service required, Chris or Landon may provide their direct contact information and encourage the person to contact them directly as they work with the individual. But for most calls, the caller is requesting service from whoever is staffing the helpdesk. Likewise, the College’s main phone number presents a list of services from which the caller can select. If the caller is seeking a copy of his/her transcripts, he/she can use the menu to be connected to Mary Evans without knowing her direct phone number.
David stated it is his recommendation that we review and enhance our website and departmental phone menus to streamline the public’s ability to obtain the services they desire and remove the employee directory from our public website before the beginning of fall classes.
David stated he is reminded of the Ben Franklin quote “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” He stated he believes this quote is relevant throughout our daily lives, but it has been ever-present during the past year as we have taken many precautions that seemed unthinkable in 2019 to protect ourselves from the Coronavirus. Removing the employee directory from our public website and enforcing MFA can be perceived as unthinkable precautions to protect our information. But cyber threats, like phishing, are increasing. Just as with public health and safety, the precautions that are embraced are dependent upon our assessment of the risk. David stated we can accept our current cyber risk or embrace one or both of these recommendations to reduce it.
Muriel asked how will it be handled for those employees that do not have a cell phone or do not wish to use their cell phone as the MFA. David stated in the past tokens with numbers were provided to use with VPN or maybe they can only access their account while on Campus.
Lewis asked how contact information would be shared and accessed internally. David stated this information is already located in Teams and Outlook.
Kris asked if an employee is using their own personal device to access their email, will the MFA be required. David stated anytime a CVCC account was being accessed on any device, the MFA would be required.
Randall stated that most employees do not receive a cell phone stipend and may be averse to using the cell to receive text. David stated in a non-COVID world, some employees would not be required to check their emails unless they are on Campus.
John stated he would be the first to admit, using the MFA is sometimes a problem but it looks to him that this is a VCCS requirement and is also the becoming the norm. He stated what concerns him is removing the directory from the website but realizes it is a question of accessibility versus security. John asked David if he knew what other VCCS colleges have revoked their directories. David stated he had not spoken with any other colleges.
John requested for David to forward his narrative that he had just presented to all Cabinet members and this topic would be discussed in more detail at a future meeting.
At the last meeting, John stated he wanted to discuss the College’s use of (not so much of the CARES funds anymore, because most of that funding (another half-million) was distributed in student emergency aid as there was a spending deadline) the CRRSAA funding, and the American Recovery Act or the American Recovery Plan funding. John stated no definite guidance on how to use the ARP has been received but are hoping for more flexibility than in using the CARES and CRRSAA.
John stated the Cabinet has discussed using the funding for the installation of high-flex classrooms, the refinement of the College’s air filtration systems, and hiring instructors in high-demand areas on temporary one-year contracts. He stated even with the new ideas, that's not going to enable the maximum amount of funding to be spent. John stated he wants to see what additional ideas anyone may have and asked that everyone try to think not necessarily only in the short term but to think about ways in which this funding can be used that will serve the long-term interests of the College and its students. He stated he had received ideas through emails but wants all ideas to be shared today.
Lewis stated he wanted to interject first with revenue loss. He stated he didn’t have the numbers to supply today, but would establish 2019 as the baseline, and then using the 10% revenue drop in 2020 to submit that against the grant. Lewis stated a 1% drop in enrollment is equal to a loss of $100,000 so setting a revenue pattern from 2019 to now, will equal to a million dollars and then in 2021, there will also be a bit of drop as well. John stated even though he wants to devote as much money as possible to emergency student aid, his responsibility is to ensure that the institution emerges whole and vibrant at the end of this pandemic. He reported the College was not able to do that with CARES funding and that accounts for the half-million dollar distribution in institutional funding that went to emergency student aid. He stated he would like to max out the institutional portion of CRRSAA and ARP Funding.
John stated he has heard some colleges are using CRRSAA funding to provide student scholarships but he and Lewis have researched and do not believe this is allowed.
Lewis stated he believes the CRRSAA funds will be used but is a little more concerned about the ARP funding as no guidance had been received. John asked everyone what their thoughts were on how to spend this money,
Jim suggested using the library’s first floor to create a digital commons where students can quietly utilize that area to study. He also suggested purchasing more tables with umbrellas and solar charging stations for outside. David stated he thought the digital commons was a great idea but one that would require additional training for support to the students. John stated he agreed, and since there are two positions vacant in the library, this funding could possibly be used to fill one of those positions which will be geared towards digital outreach.
Lewis stated he and David met last week and discussed hiring additional technology positions for support. David reported two part-time positions at the Help Desk are currently vacant.
Muriel suggested using the funds to hire additional embedded tutors and stated she had spoken with Lewis last week who said justification would need to be provided.
David stated he would create a spreadsheet in Teams with all the suggestions made previously and today. John asked Lewis to include an estimated cost to all the suggestions.
Elizabeth reported, when she worked in Workforce, individuals from industry would be hired to teach and sometimes, they struggled with transitioning to the education environment because they hadn’t taught before. She stated they had a lot of the technical skills, but they didn't really have the teaching skills. Elizabeth stated there are centers for teaching innovation and it's just a more formalized approach to professional development for faculty such as the following:
- Establishing a faculty mentoring/shadowing program for both full-time and part-time faculty to ensure a smooth transition to a community college environment
- Facilitating peer review of coursework and curriculum
- Creating work groups for the implementation of the high-flex classrooms
- Looking at student equity graph gaps and identifying academic performance and collaborating with faculty to develop individualized instruction approaches for creating equitable teaching environments
- Facilitating the recruitment of diverse faculty through building relationships with other college and university partners with graduate teaching programs
- Building a community for faculty scholarship by encouraging the sharing and appreciation of individual or found research
- Securing and developing grants that maybe could support their research or what they're trying to do in the classroom
- Adding positions that are associated with all of the above
John stated Elizabeth's list covers the waterfront and embraces virtually every major initiative that the College is engaged in right now. He stated maybe the funds could be used to create a distinct position that's responsible for implementing projects and initiatives like that, with a specific focus upon adapting the College and adapting teaching and learning to this post-COVID environment. John stated it has been acknowledged that it’s a myth to believe that the College can flip a switch and come back to Campus and everything is going to be the way it was before. Teachers are going to have to revise the way they teach, and students are going to have to adjust the way they learn. (Muriel agreed with John’s statement and thinks the College’s Professional Development could be expanded even further and more teachers, especially adjuncts could be reached. Cynthia stated these ties directly into the teaching and learning component of the VCCS Strategic Plan.
William stated CVCC may already have something in place, but his suggestion would be community outreach in general with this new position that Elizabeth discussed. He stated this position could reach out to the community to make CVCC more accessible and seen as a larger part of the community. William stated this could also increase enrollment. John stated while this is a great idea, one restriction on the funding is that it cannot be used for marketing. He stated if William’s suggestion could be tied into a kind of homogenized whole that Elizabeth articulated, this may would work.
Chris stated it looks like the VCCS will be rebranding the dual enrollment program with Smart Path, and he stated it seems like Bedford County’s Jefferson Forest is a successful model. He asked how can this be expanded to Timberlake, Campbell County, Amherst, Lynchburg, and high schools in other areas. John stated this is a good idea as CVCC enjoys a very healthy dual enrollment population, especially at Jefferson Forest. He stated in the not-too-distant future, the College will be taking some steps to strengthen that program. John stated the Smart Path idea was not approved by the VCCS’ presidents but agreed that's an area that the College needs to pay closer attention to and make greater investments. He stated he thinks the College should expand its presence in the high schools and establish more consistent and ongoing relationships with its counterparts in the public schools. John reported the Beacon of Hope does plan to establish a future center at Amherst County high school, which will give CVCC a more solid outpost in that school division and drive more students to CVCC. Muriel stated COVID has had an impact on dual enrollment but the College does need to reach out to them more effectively than it is doing right now and sees potential to do much better. She stated steps are being taken to improve CVCC’s relationships with the dual enrollment program. Chris stated he thought perhaps the high schools may have space available for CVCC to use as they will continue to offer online classes. Muriel discussed career coaches and stated there was only one coach for all four of Campbell County high schools. John stated the career coach program requires an equal match for salaries on the part of the school division. He stated perhaps the schools would use some of the CRRSAA funding for their part.
John stated whatever investments the College makes, they must be made strategically in hopes the investments made with this short-term funding will lead to long term dividends that will be self-sustaining as that is the real key to how this funding should be used.
Jim reported on the Faculty Association and stated because of Cynthia’s reappointment, she will not be the Faculty Association President for next year. He stated David McGee will be president with John McCullough as secretary, and Marci Gale will continue as treasurer. Jim stated a Vice President/President elect will be chosen at the first meeting in the fall.
Jim asked if the faculty have a designated responsibility in the upcoming virtual graduation. Muriel stated there is none. Chris stated there will be a graduate drive-through and faculty are welcome to come and cheer them on but that is strictly voluntary.
William asked if anyone knew if students were planning to come to Campus to take pictures. John stated he thought students had been told not to come to Campus during this time but feels some may come anyway or even exit their cars during the drive-through.
Cynthia stated she understood that the CARES, CRRSAA, and ARP could not be used for scholarships but asked if students from the past year that were impacted by COVID and had to withdraw or failed a class could be offered free tuition. John stated even though it is directly related to the disruption associated with the pandemic, it is still a payment that is being made to the student based upon the presumption of some future enrollment, which is defined as a scholarship. But he asked Lewis to seek additional advice from the VCCS.
John asked Will and Kris to discuss the Reopening Committee plans for reopening. Will stated the committee met last week where Muriel gave an update on the fall schedule and Kris discussed the recent survey findings. Will stated the feedback shows that some are still concerned about returning to Campus. Kris stated each department has been asked by April 15 to provide the committee a starting point of where everybody is thinking and looking towards the future for some level of repopulation of offices to deliver in person. She stated as of now the guidance that's available includes mask requirement, the same cleaning protocols, the same gathering limitations, and six feet of social distancing in all classrooms. (She stated the three-feet distance applies to K-12 only at this time.) Kris stated everyone is being asked what their plan is, what they see their timeline is for repopulating with employees, and then how they will serve students.
Cynthia stated some concerns/nervousness remain with returning to work. She stated she doesn’t think it's saying that people don't want to come back to Campus, but just that there's a lot of fear of the unknown and how this is all going to play out, Muriel stated she understood there are fears and that is why Kris’ survey asked what is needed to be safe and how much space is needed to feel safe. John stated he understands the fear, the anxiety, and the apprehension. He stated just as from the very beginning, the College will continue to commit to make this environment as safe as it possibly can be. But, he stated, in this case, charity begins at home, and he hopes the people who are expecting the College to provide them with protection are taking the steps to protect themselves, get vaccinated, and not throwing 100% onto CVCC because that's their responsibility. John stated, at some point, classes, interactions, and business must resume on Campus. He stated if people are thinking that they can just continue to operate the way that they have been operating for the past year, they are mistaken because, at some point, business must resume the way it used to be but also acknowledging that it's going to be different. He stated people are not going to have the luxury of continuing to work in the virtual environment that they have had for the past year. John stated if they're not willing to take the first step themselves to get the vaccine, they are still going to have to come back to Campus and everything that can be done to protect them will be done, but ultimately that's an immediate responsibility that they have. Cynthia stated she agreed 100%.
William stated his biggest concern from the safety standpoint is the unknown and uncertainty and asked what is the protocol for a faculty, staff, or a student who comes in for services and refuses to wear masks. He asked if the ID cards can be confiscated, or should they be asked to leave Campus? He stated sometimes people have become violent when confronted about wearing a mask. John stated these are important considerations and are issues that the reopening Task Force is going to have to tackle as well.
Jim stated several concerns that he has such as socially distance in classrooms, scheduling of the classrooms, and how classrooms are going to be cleaned between class turnovers. Kris stated the College has a successful model with the face-to-face courses that have been offered consistently, and she is not aware of a single instance where someone refused to wear a mask or had to be turned away for that, because the College will continue to have everyone attest prior to coming on Campus that they agree to these terms about their wellness and the safety precautions. John stated he was not as worried about students in the classrooms but was concerned about students in the hallways between classes. He stated the Reopening Committee will be responsible for these issues/concerns.
The meeting adjourned at 3:07 p.m. with the next meeting scheduled on Monday, May 3, 2021.