Imagining New Ways to Distinguish the College

In every team and department at Northwest Vista College, there are always great stories to tell that show faculty and staff going above and beyond.

While it’s hard to capture every story, we hope to periodically share in this space some of the major accomplishments or projects that are taking place. Members of the executive team will write about important topics that they feel NVC employees should be made aware of.

Let us know about the positive things your area is doing to help students or improve processes by contacting myself or NVC Public Relations.

– Dr. Ric Baser, NVC President

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Russ Frohardt
Dean for Academic Success: Science & Technology and Health & Biosciences Institutes

NVC has gone through a lot of changes during my two-plus years as a dean here, and is almost unrecognizable to people who haven’t been to the campus since it was just a couple of buildings and a handful of faculty, staff, and students at the end of the 1990s.

Fortunately, because of the culture and vision that was established in those early years and the dedication of the entire NVC community, the college navigated the change to consistently improve every aspect of the educational experience for our students. To quote Dr. Baser when we were initially ranked the No. 1 community college in Texas by BestColleges.com, “We can’t rest on our laurels.”

There is more change in front of us and a number of areas where we have the opportunity to continue our improvement. As we fully roll out the AlamoInstitutes we are taking advantage of our new roles and organizational structures. Pat Fontenot is now overseeing our academic support services (tutoring and academic labs, dual credit, libraries, community engagement), and Charles Hinkley is the new dean for the Creative & Communication Arts, Public Service, and Business & Entrepreneurship Institutes.

I am excited to be working more closely with the teams in the Science & Technology and Health & Biosciences Institutes and our Student Success and College Services partners to enhance our student advising, our student support services, and our co-curricular and experiential learning opportunities. It is this final component of the guided pathways model that we are implementing that I would like to emphasize in our contribution to the new strategic plan of Care, Achievement, and Distinction.

Mountains of data support the idea that getting students involved in research and other hands-on activities improves their commitment to education and likelihood of achieving their academic and career goals and is a cornerstone of the guided pathways national model. We are fortunate to be part of an incredibly talented and productive faculty who manage being caring teachers while staying active in the scholarly and service communities. Our new strategic plan, along with new funding to support Institute programming, the renovations and new construction for academic and support buildings through the recent bond initiative, and our previous successes in grant funding and collaborations make this an optimal time to strengthen our commitment to undergraduate research opportunities.

According to The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) most recent data (fall 2016), 12.1 million students were enrolled in community colleges, accounting for 41 percent of all U.S. undergraduates and the majority (52 percent) of all Hispanic students (AACC, 2018). As affiliate members of the Community College Undergraduate Research Initiative (CCURI) and members of several consortia and partnerships in San Antonio and the state of Texas, NVC should take this opportunity to address the typical barriers (e.g., limited resources, limited faculty preparation, limited student preparation, marginalization from the science research endeavor, limited administrative support) that typically stand in the way of undergraduate research experiences in community colleges and find creative ways to get students even more involved in research (Hewlett, 2018).

As we celebrate our return to No. 1 in the state, a new community-focused Title V grant, the establishment of a field school site for anthropology, and dozens of other successes at Vista, I invite you to imagine new ways to distinguish our college within our community and beyond. I hope you are enjoying a wonderful start to the semester and I look forward to the opportunities of this new academic year.

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