Carvajal outlines ‘plan’ for BC

Published 7:12 pm Friday, March 25, 2011

After weeks of actively engaging in learning and listening to those who interviewed him and preceded him at Bainbridge College, President Richard Carvajal said there was just something he missed.

As Carvajal was talking with former President Tom Wilkerson late last year, and after several weeks being interviewed and screened to succeed Wilkerson, Carvajal knew what Bainbridge College was about.

However, it was never spelled out.

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At the other colleges where he had worked, Carvajal said they all had plans—plans or mission statements that permeated throughout the whole institution.

“It occurred to me that I have spent the better part of six months actively engaged in this institution, and just sort of being embarrassed that I could not sum up in the same way what made Bainbridge College what it was,” Carvajal said during an interview with The Post-Searchlight.

When Carvajal was meeting with Wilkerson during his last days at BC, Carvajal told Wilkerson what he was thinking and said, “Am I stupid, did I just miss the obvious?”

Wilkerson chuckled, and said “I was wondering when you would ask that question.”

Wilkerson told Carvajal, “We’re just not used to thinking that way. We have not, as an institution, been used to thinking strategically, about what do we value the most.”

Carvajal said when he returned to Cascadia Community College in Bothell, Wash., and during the transition of when he was to start as BC president on Jan. 10, that’s what he thought about—that Bainbridge College as an institution, at its core, the one thing that everyone would say is a common thread.

The conclusion—that Bainbridge College is an institution committed to truly changing lives, Carvajal said.

“That students who come here, come here because this is their shot. And that’s really appealing,” Carvajal said.

And how are you going to make that a reality? If you asked 50 people you would get 50 different answers, he said.

As a contrast, Carvajal said Cascadia was a learning college, committed to global awareness and environmental stewardship.

“Those three things permeated through the whole institution. They drove everything we did,” Carvajal said. Those three things drove all of the planning, the budget, the hiring and the buildings they built.

Carvajal asked the simple questions: “What are the characteristics that truly define who we are and what are those that we aspire to be?”

So in February, Carvajal put the finishing touches on the Bainbridge College 2011-14 Strategic Plan. During his welcoming reception on March 16, the plan was placed at each seat in the Kirbo Center’s auditorium.

“It’s my reminder of what we have said we are about and where we said we are headed,” Carvajal said.
The 39-year-old college president also said that not one word came from Carvajal.

Carvajal said his style of leadership is to facilitate a dialogue and to try to get a lot of folks involved who have great ideas.

“The realty is how well do I know Bainbridge and Bainbridge College? I just moved here, I just barely got out of one suitcase,” he chuckled. “There are people here who know this place so much better than I do. What I think my contribution is is to facilitate and take all those great ideas and condense down.”

The plan
Goal 1: “Bainbridge College will provide students a comprehensive, high quality experience from recruitment to graduation.”

Carvajal said this goal is instructional excellence.

“That’s what we do. That’s what we’re about,” he said.

“I was thrilled to see what our entire campus, not just our faculty, our entire institution said right off the top: We are about our students’ success and that starts with the excellence that we need to demonstrate in the classroom.”

Among some of the goals are to review the faculty evaluation process, open a student help desk and enhance tutoring.

Goal 2: “Bainbridge College will build a stronger campus community by enhancing organizational effectiveness.”

Among some of this goal’s objectives are complete a master plan to guide future facility use and expansion; review its current public safety plan; complete a new brand and community image plan; open a one-stop student service center designed to improve the student enrollment experience, and implement a voice-over IP telephone system at all its locations.

Carvajal said this is a commitment to be proactive, rather than reactive.

“This is reminding us that sometime what we have to do is not just be reactive to what is most staring us in the face, but regularly be asking, ‘OK, here’s 50 potential things we can do, which of those would make the biggest difference for students and for student learning?” Carvajal said.

Goal 3: “Bainbridge College will expand the educational, economic, social and cultural opportunities for the citizens of Southwest Georgia.”

Among one of the goals here is to decide whether or not to expand Bainbridge College’s mission and offer four-year programs that are intended to meet community workforce needs.

Among some of the other objectives are to update the Web site; hire a new position to focus on securing grants that support strategic priorities for the college, and provide more training opportunities for faculty.

Goal 4: “Bainbridge College will promote faculty and staff development to advance excellence in education.”

Among these goals are to increase the total percentage of credit hours taught by full-time faculty by 5 percent (the baseline is 57 percent from fall 2010); all employees complete the university system’s customer service training, and increase global perspectives across the institution.

Carvajal said there are other goals, perhaps not all spelled out in the strategic plan, that he would like to do.

One is to make sure the college is doing all it can to build a very close-knit family culture among the employees. Carvajal was told of the earlier days when the college held fish fries and softball games among employees.

“We’re going to talk about bringing those back and to rebuild that family environment,” Carvajal said.
“From the student perspective, are we doing all we can through the programs we set, to the traditions that we set and all those things, do they build a culture of community for students?” Carvajal asked.

Bainbridge College Strategic Plan (PDF, 1.5 MB)