Rock Valley College: Aligning and Engaging with the Community

I agree with the RRSTAR: “RVC had a very good year in 2014.” To that end, I wanted to share a couple of additional highlights on top of the hiring of our new President, Mike Mastroianni, the aviation maintenance program expansion, and being named one of ten colleges in the U.S. to earn the Right Skills Now designation. Although this list is by no means a complete one, I think you will agree that there are a couple of emerging trends:

  • Further alignment of College resources with community needs.
  • Increased engagement with residents, other organizations, community leaders, business, and industry.

1. Community Forums hosted by the Board of Trustees:

2. A multitude of capital projects in the works that align with both programming and community needs. This includes: Aviation Maintenance Building, Arts Instructional Center, Health Sciences Center, renovation of two, 50-year-old classroom buildings as well as the renovation of the Stenstrom Center into a world-class career and technical education center.

3. Launch of the RVC Alumni Network. The need to build an alumni network was evident when 75% of the people attending a Chamber Education Outlook event raised their hand when asked if they have ever taken a class at RVC. Additionally, the Athletic Hall of Fame event honored several former student-athletes.

4. Increased engagement with area pastors; a group that is critical to the success of our College and community. It will take a collective effort to reach more prospective students.

5. Board tour of Woodward to discuss their expansion plans and better understand their future employment needs. A trained workforce will be critical for employers throughout the region and country; especially when factor in that 10,000 baby-boomers retire everyday in the U.S.

6. A variety of new recruitment initiatives; including mobile registration, increased outreach to area high schools and non-traditional students, and website overhaul.

7. The RVC / RASI agreement will allow RVC to incorporate fast-track manufacturing into its existing career and technical education program. This is part of a larger effort to enhance the College’s Career & Technical Education program.

8. RVC Family Reading Night during Adult Education Awareness Month. Did you know there are over 46,000 adults in the Region without a GED?

9. Engagement with Transform Rockford that included a presentation and discussion of RVC’s role in the community at the Fall Staff Development Day.

10. Private School event for parents and students. This is part of a larger effort to engage our private school families.

11. President’s Enrollment Advisory Committee that includes area educational leaders and community partners.

12. Rumble in the Rock: A partnership with RPS 205 ‘s Athletic Department. The event included 4, 200 spectators and six basketball games.

13. Right Place To Start program is continuing to provide coaching and mentoring to a large number of District 205 graduates who attend RVC. Booker Washington Community Center recognized this program at their annual dinner.

14. RVC playing host to R2OC, a partnership of US First Robotics teams, for their Annual Robotics Competition. Awesome way to promote STEM education!

15. “Imagine Me” brought hundreds of area high school students to campus to talk entrepreneurship and to engage with area business owners.

These fifteen examples are in addition to the great work being done in our classrooms by our talented faculty and staff – day in and day out. I challenge any high school student or adult who is considering re-starting their education to compare the quality and value of RVC with that of any higher education institution in the state.

Yes, there are budget challenges at the local and state level that impact our operating budget. Unfortunately, this is true for all higher education as well as every local and state-wide taxing body. Many residents and employers face similar challenges in their daily lives. But there are also tremendous opportunities that can only be seized with continued alignment and engagement with our community.

Frank Haney – RVC Board Chairman and Alum ’93, Next Rockford Past-Facilitator