Students curious about major projects that are set to change the image of Raritan Valley Community College had the opportunity to to ask about them from those directly in charge.
“As some of us may know, the college is undergoing a rebranding process. I was wondering where the college stands on that?”
Conrad Colon, executive vice-president of the Student Government Association (SGA), asked this question at “Meet the President and Executive Staff” on Feb. 5 in the Bateman Center.
Dr. Michael McDonough, president of RVCC, replied that JK Design of Hillsborough, the company hired for the rebranding, has recently completed all of their student focus groups and other analysis to figure out the “heart of our institution.”
“This branding has been a great exercise,” said McDonough. “We agree what the college does well. That is work with students. But you have to figure out how to make that a dynamic message.”
McDonough said that the current “arch” logo for the college will go. He is not sure if JK Design will stick with a lion as a mascot, but if they do, then the design for the lion will change.
“You want to be flexible enough to realize the mascot for our athletics program might be different than a logo or design for a marketing platform. You don’t want a lot of disparity between the two. We are not changing the nature of our college, but the way we communicate it. We don’t want to say something we’re not.”
Ryan Roberts, co-president of Phi Theta Kappa, asked if the campaign would break the 13th grade stigma associated with community college.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever overcome that,” said McDonough. “There’s an arrogance four year colleges have about being superior, even though you are not going to find a better classroom experience than at RVCC.”
McDonough also said that one of the goals for rebranding is to increase enrollment so that students do not have to supplement the rising costs of the college with their tuition, and students with questions or suggestions about the rebranding can email him or visit him in his office.
While rebranding was the most popular question at the meeting, it was not the only important one asked.
Colon brought up the construction for the Workforce Training Center and Science Center expansion and asked about the progress.
John Trojan, Vice President of Finance and Facilities, said the Science Center Expansion is planned to open in Spring 2016. The building will have five new labs and “three bigger than average classrooms so that classes can be in the same building.” The building will be designed for the flipped class room model, in which lectures are listened to at home and hands-on work is done in the classroom.
Trojan said the Workforce Training Center has been slow to develop. The college plans to start construction in June and to complete it in summer of 2016. The building will use innovative construction techniques so that the space can remain flexible for programs that may grow in the future.
SGA Senator Melanye Nunez asked about plans for the third floor of the Bateman Center, which is not completed.
Trojan said that there was not enough money to finish the third floor during the building’s construction. This is to their benefit, he said, because it allows the college to observe how students are using the rest of the building, find out what students want and then figure out the proper type of furniture. One idea the college has is to design a flexible space for presentation. He estimates the cost to finish the floor to be $250,000-300,000.
Chuck Chulvick—Vice President for Technology, Assessment and Planning—mentioned that the RVCC IPhone mobile app has been updated. The previous version was broken when Apple updated its OS.
He also said that there is work being done on a new mobile app, and beta testing might begin at the end of the semester or in the summer. Many students had said in focus groups that they want to register for classes using the mobile app.
Advice to students
DeAnna Nicholson, president of SGA, asked each of the executive staff, “You have all been where we are right now. What is one piece of advice you wish you would have known as a young college student?”
“You don’t have to figure it all out by the time you’re 21,” said Diane Lemcoe, Dean of Student Services. “Things just happen in your life that take you in different directions. Just put one foot in front of the other.”
Dr. Eileen Abel, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, said, “it’s not just ok to ask for help, it’s important. Talk to your faculty members if you are having trouble with assignments. Talk to an academic advisor if you are unsure you are in the right career path. Go talk to a counselor about non-school trouble. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to engage in self-advocacy. Ask, ask, ask.”
“I would say enjoy, enjoy, enjoy,” said Nancy Moore, Vice President of Human Resources & Labor Relations. “Submerse yourself in all of your courses.”
”Keep an open mind,” said Chulvick. “Take advantage of the opportunities that—believe me—after you’re a college student, are harder to come by. You have the opportunity to learn from faculty, and you get the opportunity to learn from each other. Opportunities outside of the classroom are also memorable and will stay with you. These are often unplanned.”
“While I’m a finance guy, I’ll say spending time on liberal arts courses is very important to deal with the challenges of life you are facing,” said Trojan. “None of the difficult things I had to overcome came out of an accounting text book. They really came out of questioning philosophy, sociology. And a lot of the activities you have in your student clubs, those help to build a better character for yourself.”
“It’s not a race, so enjoy the journey,” said Richeleen Dashield, Dean of Multicultural Affairs. “I want you to be able to see your own potential. I know that we all see your potential, but I think sometimes you doubt your potential. We’re here to remind you that you can pursue anything and be great.”
“Say yes to lots of opportunities, because you don’t know where it’s going to lead. Just embrace it all,” said McDonough.
Responsibilities of executive staff
When introducing his responsibility, McDonough joked, “I don’t really do much because these folks do it all. I walk around, I pretend I’m busy, but I’m really not.” One student responded, “I want his job.”
Besides “looking busy,” McDonough is responsible for overseeing the rest of the administration, serving on the Board of Trustees and making public appearances on behalf of the college.
John Trojan also joked, “What I do mostly this year is make phone calls to collect bills and close the school for snow.” In between, he said, he is responsible for Finance, Facilities & Grounds, Purchasing & Contracts/Bookstore, Vendor Security, Housekeeping, Vendor
Food Services and the Child Care Center.
Dr. Eileen Abel, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs, oversees Academic Services, Academic Programs & Partnerships, Transfer & Career Counseling, Allied Health, the Honors College, the library and the nine academic departments—which includes 125 full time faculty and 400 adjuncts.
Chuck Chulvick—Vice President for Technology, Assessment and Planning—is responsible for Instructional Technology/Design, Information System, MIS, Institutional Research & Assesment, Non-curricular Assessment, technology in the classroom, computer labs and the mobile app.
Nancy Moore, Vice President of Human Resources & Labor Relations is responsible for recruitment, payroll, compensation, benefits, professional development and employee relations.
Jacki Belin, Vice President for Strategic Programs & Development, is responsible for Marketing and Public Relations, Management & Conference Services, Foundation, RVCC Theatre, the planetarium, Community Outreach & Service Learning, Athletics, University Center, Community Education/LLL & Youth Programs, Workforce Delivery/Development and the Holocaust Institute.
Richeleen Dashield, Dean of Multicultural Affairs, is responsible for diversity initiatives, Robeson Institue and speaker programs, which students can attend to get extra credit in certain classes or include in their student engagement transcript.
Diane Lemcoe, Dean of Student Services, is responsible for Enrollment Services, Advising & Counseling, Student Life, EOF, Disability Services, Financial Aid, Testing Center, First Year Experience, Admissions, the enforcement of student code of conduct, the student ambassador program and hiring students for information desks.
Featured image caption: The second floor of the Bateman Center, where "Meet the President and Executive Staff" was held.