I am writing to inform you of important news regarding our accreditation - and to seek your help
in a significant initiative that will strengthen CVCC. At its June board meeting, the Southern
Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) continued CVCC's
accreditation but placed the college on probation because of our ongoing need to strengthen our
assessment of academic programs.
CVCC remains accredited by the Commission on Colleges, but we were continued in accreditation
for good cause and placed on Probation because we had exhausted our two-year monitoring period
for complying with the Principles of Accreditation and have not yet demonstrated compliance
with Comprehensive Standard 188.8.131.52 (Institutional Effectiveness: Educational Programs) of the
Principles. This standard expects an institution to demonstrate that it identifies expected
student learning/educational program outcomes, assesses the extent to which those outcomes are
achieved, and provides evidence of using those results to improve its programs.
It is important to note that the sanction SACSCOC has enacted does not reflect upon the quality
of CVCC's academic programs or faculty. Rather, it reflects the judgment of SACSCOC that the
college has not established adequate mechanisms for demonstrating the effectiveness of its
programs and using the results of those assessments for continuous improvement. The challenge
we face now is the result of a long-standing need for more comprehensive program assessment at
the college. In fact, the recommendation to which we are responding dates back to the report of
a Substantive Change Committee that visited the college in 2009.
As the sanction itself makes clear, this is a situation that we must respond to quickly and
forcefully, with our entire and concerted effort. As a result, starting today, we will
rededicate ourselves to institutional assessment through Focus '14 - Every Student, Every
Program, Every Success. The goals of this initiative will be to:
- Strengthen CVCC's assessment program;
- Ensure the value of credentials earned at CVCC; and
- Empower faculty and staff within a culture of student success.
I would like to share a few thoughts on each of these goals.
Goal #1: Strengthen CVCC's assessment program
The sobering news we have received from SACSCOC does not diminish the progress we have made
during the past year in improving our assessment program. In spring 2010, we had completed
assessments for only 12 of our 70 academic programs; by spring 2011, we had raised that total
to 25. With the discontinuance of 22 unproductive programs - and through the hard work of
the faculty - we have now completed assessments for all but two of our curricula. In the
months ahead, we will redouble our efforts in that arena. Toward that end, through Focus '14,
CVCC will bolster the college's leadership in the area of program assessment. We will
thoroughly review the college's assessment plan and processes and ensure that we have an
appropriate level of employees working on this priority. We will complete a second round of
program assessments by this spring, building upon the momentum established in this area over
the past year. And we will ensure that our hard-working faculty members have the training
they need to complete assessments timely and effectively.
Goal #2: Ensure the value of credentials earned at CVCC
Ever since CVCC first opened its doors, the college has been integral to the success of
Region 2000. Employers that began here, employers that moved here, and employers that
expanded here have relied on CVCC graduates for their success - and they remind me of that
all the time. By implementing Focus '14, we can ensure that our graduates possess the
skills they need to be successful in the workplace and the knowledge they need to succeed
at four-year colleges and universities. I pledge to you that we will remedy the concerns of
SACSCOC through Focus '14 and be prepared for not only our next SACSCOC visit in April but
also 2014, when the college will be a candidate for reaffirmation. Accomplishing this goal
will ensure our compliance with those who determine our accreditation and, at the same time,
add to CVCC's credibility in Region 2000. We owe that to our students; we owe it to our
community; we owe it to ourselves.
Goal #3: Empower faculty and staff within a culture of student success
This goal formalizes and continues the work that we have shared over the last year to make
our college's culture more democratic and inclusive. Moving forward, we will establish a
formal system of academic program heads whose engagement will be key to academic assessment
and student achievement. We will implement a new college governance structure whose
fundamental mission will focus on student success. And we will have weekly leadership
meetings on the progress of our Focus '14 efforts - and we will update you regularly on
that work. To do that, we will soon unveil a new portion of our website that will be a
central hub of all Focus '14 information and will offer two-way communication.
A Stronger CVCC
Make no mistake: our position with SACSCOC demands our undivided attention. But we must
respond by building upon the strengths we have already begun to cultivate: a more
representative model of institutional governance, more robust program vitality reviews,
and a stronger academic infrastructure that enhances evaluation and accountability. The
challenges we face are sobering and serious, but they are not insurmountable. The good
news here is that our fate lies in our own hands. With determination and resolve, I am
confident that we can meet this challenge and position ourselves to achieve full
compliance with SACSCOC. I am likewise encouraged that Focus '14 will ultimately
elevate everything we do at CVCC and ensure that we do it even better.
I will be conducting a town hall meeting on Focus '14 on Monday, July 2, at 1:00 p.m. in
the Multi-Purpose Room. I encourage you to attend so that we can address these issues as
the community we are.
John S. Capps
Central Virginia Community College
3506 Wards Road Lynchburg, VA 24502-2498