Welcome to a New Semester

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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Amy WhitworthLa reVista
NVC Vice President for Academic Success

It is with much joy that I extend to you a warm welcome to our fall 2017 semester and to the 2017-2018 academic year! Welcome back all returning faculty and a special welcome to all of our new faculty! I hope that you had a wonderful and restful summer.

Just this past week, one of our faculty asked this question on Facebook, “Do we do enough for our students?” Reading this question made me stop. A perplexing question. Challenging. One that I am sure we all ask ourselves. One that we approach from many different perspectives.

Our work, educating our students, is noble, purposeful, critically important, and necessary. Education is complex. This question frames this letter to you. I begin with the inspiring work that you do.

2016 – 2017 Highlights

 This year our Chairs and Directors gave presentations to the Academic Success Leadership Team in April that included highlights.  I would like to share some of these accomplishments here:

  • The work of our faculty in our Workforce programs saw a 12% increase in number of students graduating.  Our new Customer Service Program received SACSCOC approval.  Advanced Materials Technology received two grants:  NSF and TWC.  DVCP Students developed awesome videos for many community organizations.
  • Our faculty in FPAK have developed our Palmetto Center into a Premier Center for the Arts, hosting over 69 events, offering music, theater and dance productions and showcasing art exhibits that draw 7000 audience members each year.  The production of Greasewas a wild success as was the production of Much Ado About Nothing, showing both in our own outdoor theater and at the Arneson RiverTheater on the Riverwalk.
  • In our Humanities Department, faculty have designed and implemented a project that helps students to become better writers.  History faculty are collaborating together on writing a textbook for students that strives to make History come alive and make it relevant to our students.
  • Our SDEV/EDUC Faculty have designed  courses and programs that have received national recognition this year.
  • Our ENGL faculty have increased the number of students they advise and have worked hard on the teaching of our refresher courses that has resulted in over half of the students in ENGL refreshers being placed in a higher level course, and of those placed in higher level courses, over 76% of our students have been successful.
  • Our Math and ENGR faculty continue their awesome work on our Title V Math Pathways grant, working together to ensure that students are place appropriately.  Their work has received national recognition, and they continue their collaboration with the Dana Center.  Faculty mentoring in our math department has resulted in many student success stories, including a former NVC student now working at NASA.
  • Faculty in our Natural and Physical Sciences have created Problem Based Learning Classrooms, developed and customized lab manuals and textbooks for our students, hosted a successful science fair, and developed tools and instruments for students with disabilities.
  • Social Sciences Faculty hosted successful Psychology and Criminal Justice Days as well as the Battle of the Speeches.  Faculty took students to Spain last summer and New Zealand this summer in our Study Abroad program.  Faculty worked closely with students to give them opportunities for research, writing, and presenting at conferences.
  • Distance Learning saw a 312% increase in the number of faculty who are certified to teach online and an increase in the number of courses that we are offering online. We also opened a new Instructional Innovation Center in MZH 204F.
  • Dual Credit saw an increase in the number of DC students and courses offered.  They hosted their second annual Dual Credit Convocation.
  • Our labs have seen an increase in use by students and a student satisfaction rate across all labs at or above 90%.

In all of our disciplines, our faculty are doing scholarly work, writing, publishing, and presenting their work at conferences. Faculty serve on many college committees and district-wide committees. Faculty are involved in and contributing to our San Antonio community. Thank you for all of the good work that you do!

2017-2018 Academic Year

For reasons including higher tuition rates, changing needs in the job market, decreasing federal and state tax support, societal demand to have a stronger connection between higher education and employment, we have seen a paradigm shift in higher education nationally and locally, especially in the role of the community college. To be student ready, we need to shift from simply registering students in courses to enrolling students in programs designed with the support students need to learn and to succeed.

Our students come to us trusting that we will be able to help them navigate the increasingly complicated world of higher education.  Our students choose NVC, but in return, we CHOOSE our students. Trevor Noah, in his book, Born a Crime, writes about his experience meeting his father again after a 14 year absence. During that absence he wondered whether his father had thought about him. He found out that not only had his father thought about him, but loved him, chose him. Trevor wrote, that the single most important gift that we can give another person, is to be chosen.

Barbara Bradley Haggerty in her book, Life Reimagined, explores the elements of a successful life (following in the footsteps of Aristotle). One of her findings, as it was for Aristotle, is that friendship is critical to living a successful life. The Harvard study began in the 1930s concluded that happiness is love. Relationships with others not only result in longer lives, but happier ones. An experimental study which subjected people to brief moments of physical pain first, alone, then, holding the hand of a stranger, then holding the hand of a friend found that when people hold the hand of a friend, their experience of even the anticipation of pain changes, indeed, the physical brain changes.  When holding the hand of a trusted partner, people became calmer, less worried.

This is an exciting time to be teaching at a community college, an institution of higher education that is truly democratic, and, as open access, chooses and welcomes everyone who seeks to be educated. We are perfectly poised to become more and more relevant.  We are able to do what other institutions of higher education cannot do as well as we:  offer a high quality education, excellent faculty, small class sizes in courses that are foundational and essential to future success, academic support and experiential learning, and workforce training, all for the fraction of the cost. We know that our NVC students are as or more successful than the native students our four-year partners, indeed, that our four-year partners seek out NVC students.

This year our focus on the Institutes or Pathways is to design, develop, and implement them as schools within a school, a smaller community that our students can identify with and be a part of, indeed, a community that makes our students feel chosen.  The concrete work that Institute Teams will engage in this year includes:

  • Review Advising Guides of the Institute
  • Inventory Academic Support
  • Inventory Applied and Experiential Learning
  • Inventory Co-Curricular Learning
  • Build Institute Communication Plan with Students
  • Build Advisory Committees for each Institute

The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. While this is the concrete work of the institute, the guiding principle is to create, by way of the institute, a school within a school, and thus, a sense of community and being chosen for our students. So, along with this concrete work, there will be space and time to engage in meaningful conversations about this work. This is truly an opportunity to build upon and enhance, to coordinate, and to make explicit and available to our students all of the incredible work that you already do.

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