The Virginia Community College System is the only higher education “system” in Virginia. While Virginia has many public colleges and universities, those institutions are governed by separate boards and make independent budget and policy decisions. As a system of higher education, the VCCS is governed by the State Board for Community Colleges, which hires our system chancellor, who in turn hires our college presidents.
History of the Virginia Community College System
Under the leadership of Governor Mill E. Godwin, the General Assembly passed legislation creating a system of community colleges in Virginia. The newly created system opened in 1966 with two community colleges and five area technical schools. By 1973, the system was comprised of 23 community colleges within commuting distance of all Virginians. Presently, the Virginia Community College System encompasses 23 institutions, with 40 campuses, headed by 23 presidents under the direction of the Chancellor and the State Board for Community Colleges. In support of its mission and services, the System currently has nearly 6,800 full-time employees, more than 9,000 adjunct professors, and an additional 4,200 part-time employees, as well as an annual budget of more than $1 billion.
To better understand our system, let’s first explore our governance structure.
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The above graphic is a simplified version of our system governance.
Below, we will explore governance roles in more detail.
What is the State Board for Community Colleges?
There are 15 members of the State Board, all appointed by the governor, and subject to confirmation by the General Assembly. Members serve staggered four-year terms, except that appointments to fill vacancies shall be for the unexpired terms. By statute, the State Board for Community Colleges is authorized and directed to prepare and administer a plan providing standards and policies for the “establishment, development, and administration of all the community colleges in Virginia.” Board members are advocates for all of the community colleges.
VCCS Funding Model
Ever wonder how our colleges are funded? With so many news headlines addressing the cost of higher education, student borrowing, and the value of a degree, it’s sometimes hard to make sense of it all. From tax dollars to student tuition payments, there are many factors that impact college budgets.
Role of the State Board
The State Board for Community Colleges governs 23 colleges located on 40 campuses across the Commonwealth, with its principle objective to “provide and maintain a system of comprehensive community colleges through which appropriate educational opportunities and programs to accomplish the purposes set forth [in the Code of Virginia] shall be made available throughout the Commonwealth.” Included in their responsibilities are:
- Revising and approving the mission, strategic plan and related priorities and policies guiding the System;
- Appointing, supporting and evaluating the Chancellor;
- Selecting the Director of Internal Audit, monitoring and evaluating the incumbent’s performance, and monitoring and responding to audit findings;
- Ensuring adequate resources for the system through fundraising, setting appropriate tuition and fees, and making a personal financial commitment to supporting the System foundation;
- Approving appropriate and high-quality academic and workforce offerings;
- Serving as an advocate for the community college system, particularly in the executive and legislative arenas, and,
- Assessing the Board’s own performance
Role of Community College Local Boards
Each college of the Virginia Community College System has a local board. The local boards are structured much like the State Board but have less statutory authority. The purpose of the local college board is to keep the community college responsive to the needs of its service area. It also monitors college programs, policies, and actions to ensure that they are within statewide policies. Local board members also serve as advocates for the college throughout its service region and assist the college in fundraising efforts. Local college boards are advisory boards, not governing boards.
Role of the Chancellor
The Chancellor is the Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia Community College System and Secretary to the State Board for Community Colleges. As the CEO, the Chancellor serves a diverse group of constituents with key leadership in areas such as:
- Providing support for the State Board for Community Colleges;
- Proposing long-term strategic plans, measurable goals, and meaningful strategies for the System to achieve its plans and goals;
- Identifying resource needs;
- Coordinating system-wide functional areas of Academic Services and Research, Technology, Workforce Development, Institutional Advancement, Strategic Communications, and Administration and Finance;
- Hiring, supervising, guiding and evaluating college presidents;
- Ensuring that audit findings are recognized and addressed; and,
- Serving as liaison, advocate and fundraiser for the System with internal and external entities, including faculty and staff, and the general public; local, state and federal governments; constituency groups and individuals; and advocacy organizations.
Community College Staffing
- Each college has a president who is hired and evaluated by the Chancellor.
- Each college also has an organizational structure of administrators, faculty, and staff.
- College staffing must meet the requirements specified by Criteria 6.1, Organization and Administration, Criteria for Accreditation, Commission on Colleges, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
- Each college maintains a current organizational chart on file with the System Office.
- Significant organizational changes such as adding or eliminating campus locations, are approved by the college local board and the State Board for Community Colleges.
- The Chancellor approves organizational structure changes which add or delete positions or reassign functions involving provosts and vice presidents.
VCCS Councils and Committees
The System administration has organized various advisory committees to advise the Chancellor, and others, on important policy issues. The committees, with the exception of the Advisory Council of Presidents (ACOP), focus on one area, such as finance and administration, academic issues, workforce, technology, or faculty concerns. Recommendations on system-wide policy matters from the advisory councils and committees other than ACOP are forwarded by the appropriate Vice Chancellor to the Chancellor, who may then present them to the appropriate committee of the Advisory Council of Presidents for its consideration. The Chancellor shall not implement system-wide policy recommendations coming from other advisory councils or committees until the ACOP has reviewed the matters. The ACOP considers the proposals, and issues raised by the other committees and recommends a course of action to the Chancellor.