A Day in the Life of an AVP – the (whirlwind) May edition

Woke up (in a whirlwind). . .

Fell out of bed (into a tornado). . .

Dragged a comb across my head (in a cyclone). . .

May has been a remarkably busy month.  As you can tell from the introduction to this post and my parenthetical additions to the Beatles lyrics, every day has felt like I’m in a whirlwind of important projects and decision-making large and small.  So here we go – you get to ride the wind with me.

Buckle up, and hold onto your hats!

Hiring notebooks
  • ACC uses these notebooks (big, blue, 3-ring binders) to move the paperwork associated with hiring new full-time faculty through the pipeline.  The notebooks contain the committee membership, the applicant list, the interview list, applications and transcripts of interviewees, reference checks, a justification letter regarding the committee’s recommendations, and candidate approval forms.
  • My preference is to visit with the dean and department chair (or hiring  committee chair) to ask questions about the hiring process and the committee’s recommendations.  Given that we made fundamental changes to our full-time faculty hiring approach to embed equity more intentionally and throughout the process, I’ve been particularly eager to talk to hiring committee chairs and get feedback on changes to the process.
  • The “notebook” goes from the dean, to me, to the VP of Instruction, to the Provost, to the President.  We all  have to sign off because hiring faculty is the most important thing that we do to support our educational mission.  So part of the day focused on hiring notebooks and the concomitant conversations.
Personnel issues
  • I’ll save you the details.  Personnel issues are part and parcel of this job.  Sometimes they’re pretty straightforward, and sometimes they’re messy.  This one is messy, but it still  has to be dealt with.
Registration Liaisons
  • Registration Liaisons (RLs) are faculty, both adjunct and full-time, who were hired in the Spring to help transfer students with registration issues in the first week of a teaching session.  If a student was dropped for non-payment, an RL can help the student find another class option and rebuild his/her schedule.  If the college made an error that resulted in the student being dropped, then the RL can put the student back into the class, even if it’s full.  RLs get a lot of business in the first week, and the job title is new.
  • Because this is a new job title, part of what we’re still working out is how to systematically communicate not just who the RLs are, but more importantly what their availability is each semester (since office hours can change based on teaching schedules).  So I spent some time this week asking and answering questions about that communication plan.
A&M Engineering Academy
  • ACC has a wonderful partnership with Texas A&M that allows up to 100 students – those who want to study engineering – to be admitted simultaneously to ACC and TAMU.  They take an Engineering course each semester here at ACC that is taught by an A&M Professor of Practice, and they take their other coursework with us.
  • At some point, when students maintain the required GPA, they switch to their preferred Engineering program at Texas A&M.  Is that a great opportunity for students in Central Texas?  Yes it is!  TAMU gets approximately 13,000 applications to its College of Engineering each year, and admits about 3000 – and they are giving us 100 slots.
  • The day involved a meeting about recruitment.  We can’t seem to find the magic formula that helps us get to 100 admitted students – we can get to 70ish, but not more.  So we were brainstorming additional outreach efforts.
  • Secondarily, UTSA is exploring a similar concurrent enrollment engineering program with us.  And Texas State is as well.  The key will be to craft the specifics so that we’re serving our students and developing good partnerships.  And the key will be in messaging, outreach, and recruitment.
UT’s Explore Law Program
  • Speaking of partnerships, here’s another one, this one with the University of Texas and Huston-Tillotson.  This is a new partnership, and frankly, we launched it in a rush.  But it’s another great opportunity for our students to explore a law career, have a residential experience on the H-T campus, connect with other students at UT and H-T as well as with law faculty.
  • The four-week program is for students with at least 24 semester credit hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.  The opportunity was brought to us, so we couldn’t say no.  However, that meant someone had to push the opportunity out to students, connect with our UT partners, and ultimately sift through the applications to make decisions about who would be invited to participate.  That someone was me – but be assured that the selection committee included Dr. Gretchen Riehl, AVP of Workforce Education, and Dr. Shasta Buchanan, AVP of College & High School Relations.  Our selections were due May 31, so the three of us scrambled to find the time to read applicants’ personal statements, writing samples, resumes, and supporting letters of recommendations.
  • We had 15 students apply, and we can select ten, so our recommendations went forward on May 31. Whew!  Deadline met, opportunity offered to some deserving students.
Achieving the Dream OER Degree Initiative grant report
  • The AtD OER-DI grant began in the summer of 2016 and ran through December 31, 2018.  We were obligated to submit three annual reports (Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019).  As Director of the Texas Consortium that collectively developed two Z-degrees (Alamo Colleges, El Paso Community College, San Jacinto College, and ACC), the annual reports were my responsibility.  This Spring 2019 report was due April 30, and I missed the deadline.  When I tried to submit it in early May, the access had been turned off.
  • Luckily for me, I wasn’t the only one to miss the deadline – so our friends at Achieving the Dream turned access back on and gave us until May 31.  My thanks to Ursula Pike, Instructional Initiatives Coordinator, who wrote the first draft.  And my thanks to Melissa Bedford-Guidry, Accountant – Record to Report (R2R), who did a last minute budget report for me.  I submitted the report mid-afternoon on May 31.  Whew!
Department Chair Summer Institute
  • We have elevated our expectations for department chairs because our instructional programs need and deserve strategic leadership.  For the last few years department chairs have spent their time on compliance issues, student complaints, schedule development and staffing, and faculty hiring and evaluation.  If we want them to be strategic leaders, we need to help them do so.  So we began by giving them additional support (more release time; help from Assistant Deans with things like discipline assessment and distance education best practices).  We then moved to our obligation to provide relevant and meaningful professional development for them so that they have the tools to be strategic leaders.  Thus the DC Summer Institute was born.
  • We are holding three Institutes this summer to ensure that all department chairs can attend.  I am working with Dr. Gretchen Riehl, AVP of Workforce Education, and Dr. Susan Thomason, AVP of Instructional Services, to develop/finalize the plans for the 2 1/2 day institutes.  On this particular day, Gretchen and I met to hone the agenda and the themes for the Institute.  In addition, I weighed in on the menu planning (appetizers at the conclusion of the first afternoon, lunch on the next two days).
  • That’s life as an AVP – menu planning, report writing, personnel issues, marketing – all in a day’s work!
#TXCoReqs Continuous Improvement Conference
  • At this point you’re thinking “Isn’t her day over yet?”  No.  Not quite. I am the Director of the Texas Corequisite Project, a THECB-funded grant to offer professional development around the state to two-year and four-year colleges and universities to help them successfully and effectively meet the mandates of HB2223.  HB2223 requires that developmental students be accelerated through their developmental education sequence by be enrolled in corequisite course pairings that provide contextualized and just-in-time remediation.  Thus, the professional development under this grant must help Texas public colleges and universities launch, refine, improve, and grow their corequisite developmental/college credit course offerings.  My co-director is Carolynn Reed, Math/Developmental Math Department Chair.  My right-hand person (in this grant and in all my AVP work) is Rhonda Little, Executive Assistant extraordinaire.
  • We’re hosting a conference June 7-8.  Conferences have multiple moving parts – programs and name tags, concurrent sessions and keynotes, lunch (more menu planning!) and room reservations, wayfinding and communication plans.  And this conference has even more moving parts, because the focus is on Continuous Improvement in Corequisites.  Each attending college had to submit pre-work (which has to be tracked).  Each attending college will participate in several “team time” sessions where they will receive coaching on defining their problem of practice and developing a short-term action plan and an assessment plan based on their pre-work.  Luckily for Carolynn and me, we are partnering with RAND Education and AIR (American Institutes for Research), and they have done some really heavy lifting on this conference.  And luckily for Carolynn and me, Rhonda is gifted.  We’d be lost without her.
Space requests
  • Space requests? Really?  Yes, really.  If someone wants to request a move to a different campus, or if we need to request an office for a new hire, there’s a form (of course!) and a process.  The form requires my signature before it goes on through the pipeline for other signatures.  Sounds simple, yes?  Except there are multiple space requests, and multiple signatures, and multiple phone calls and multiple emails to track it all.
  • Life as an AVP involves things large and small, detailed and big picture.

But, hey – it’s all part of a day in the life of an AVP in a whirlwind!

Sand Dust Image by Pattadis Walaput from Pixabay