Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 25, 2015
This week, I had the pleasure of serving
as the speaker at the Gadsden Re-Entry Center’s first GED graduation.
For those of you who aren’t aware, the Center is located on TCC’s Florida Public Safety Institute campus and is
one of just five such facilities in the state and the only place in the country where a prison sits on a
college campus. It serves the entire Panhandle in preparing inmates to
re-enter society and the workforce.
When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I saw men who knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future.
One of my goals as a leader has always been to create equity
of opportunity so any student can become a responsible citizen. So bringing a
re-entry center to our region back in 2012 was an important project to me, and
one I felt fit wholly in line with our mission as an open education
institution. The graduation certainly affirmed this. In fact, it reminded me
why I love the work we do here at the College.
Everyone’s journey to success is different, and that journey
is never a solo one. Our job as educators is to help remove roadblocks, give
hope and provide the support system each student needs to achieve their full
In my remarks, I spoke to the fact that there is no straight
line to any goal. To obtain a degree, whether it is a high school diploma or a
PhD, you must be dedicated and willing to make sacrifices. It’s not for the
lazy or weak. These particular graduates had to study in a prison setting with
the weight of their past on their shoulders. I imagine there was no small
amount of self-doubt that they could even finish.
But they did and because of that, I have the utmost respect
for these individuals. They were adults, many of them parents, who had made a
conscious decision to improve their lives and be a role model for their
families. And with their GED, they now have choices they never had before.
When we fail to appreciate everyone’s journey, we lose sight
of who they are as people. At that ceremony, I
saw men who
knew why they were there, but also knew they wanted a better future. The pride I saw in their
eyes and heard in their comments was something I am grateful to have
experienced firsthand. Helping students who choose TCC is why all of us at the
college get up every morning and do what we do. Seeing the impact of our
efforts is the ultimate paycheck.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, October 6, 2014
Last week I traveled to Orlando where I took part in the Future of Florida forum and was a part of a panel discussing the state of higher education and how to assess and meet the needs of Florida workforce moving forward. Later in the week I attended another forum back in town on the Future of Higher Education in Florida in which participants discussed attainment, accountability and challenging status quo ideas of post-secondary learning.
These are the conversations I love to have – outlook, opportunity and how we can position ourselves to leapfrog ahead and meet the students where they will be instead of where they are now.
As many of you are now aware, Tallahassee Community College is in the process of implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. What many of you may not know is that it took us years to find the right system, not only because of the massive scope of such a project, but because it seemed as though most of the systems we looked at represented incremental progress. When we selected our new system, it was because it was an innovative, cloud-based system that would provide solutions to problems students, faculty and staff have today as well as those they would have years from now. That’s leapfrogging ahead.
The state of higher education
There is a shift happening in higher ed. A few short years ago, degrees were considered a proxy for job-applicable skillsets. You went to college, earned your degree, interviewed for jobs, and then were hired, all on the assumption that if you had a degree you had everything you needed to perform the duties assigned. Today, employers are in need of more well-rounded professionals and are telling us graduates are in serious need of more soft skills like networking, email etiquette or how to conduct a productive team meeting, things that are often neglected in non-business degree tracks.
There is also disruption in evaluation and instructional formats. Traditionally, teaching is assessed in brick and mortar classrooms where time is considered a constant (one semester) and learning a variable (grades A down to F). That model is now being challenged. Learning needs to be assessed more than teaching, in spaces when and where the students are. And time, not learning, needs to be seen as the variable.
There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.
Our focus will move towards measuring learning outcomes. We need to provide a variety of teaching modes to fit the content, the student’s capability and our rapidly diversifying labor market.
To be fair, these changes have been a long time coming. When I got my first promotion into a management position, I started in my new role the following day but was told the next training workshop wouldn’t be for another six months. Unfortunately, by the time that workshop rolled around, it was too late to be helpful and worse yet, it was a waste of time. What I needed was “just enough, just in time” training.
Students should be able to brush up on skills or add new ones. They should be able to work on customizable micro-credentials while earning their degree. And they should be able to start anytime, learn anytime, finish anytime.
To add another layer to all this, we need to also consider the changing landscape of technology. New platforms and products crop up every day. Most fade, but some go on to become indispensable to everyday life. Think the POP3 server, Facebook and blogs (like this one!)
At our College, I feel it is essential to choose technology solutions that move us to the head of the industry and not restrict us to the minimum of innovation. This was why I couldn’t be more excited for our landmark partnership with Workday or this year’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) focus on digital literacy.
These are just two of the projects our College has embarked on to transform the way we align with the new face of education and the tools of tomorrow. There is much more to come. Our College is poised for some big changes ahead and this is just the beginning of what I see as a tremendous future.
My job is to identify the changes and help guide us to that future. With my next few blogs, I will be writing on the role I see each of us as stakeholders of TCC playing in the coming years and how we will all coordinate to embrace the new era of higher education. These groups include, but are not limited to, students, faculty, staff, trustees, board members, community leaders and our education partners. My hope is that through these and other discussions, we can better understand where we are headed and continue our dialogue of how we will get there. Stay tuned.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, August 26, 2014
What makes us successful? Is it the number of students we
enroll or the number of students we graduate? Is it how many faculty who have
Ph.D.’s or how many awards our faculty have won? Is it the percentage of the
state budget we receive or the percentage of the community who support us?
The faculty and staff of TCC have been asking these and
other questions and having a lot of conversations about our values and how we
can further strengthen student success leading up to the start of the fall
No matter if you are returning or new, it is my privilege to congratulate each of our students on making the decision to attend Tallahassee Community College.
Two weeks ago, I authorized the closing of the entire
College for our Student Success Summit, an important day-long event that
brought together all employees, from groundskeepers to adjuncts, executives to
advisors. It meant a great deal of extra work for many personnel and was a
commitment not many campuses would be willing to take on right before the
beginning of a new academic year, but it was crucial that each team member was
there to add their unique perspective. The Summit was a resounding success and
at the end of the day, many approached me to say how energized they were for
the new semester.
Helping those who help themselves
That being said, no matter how much faculty or staff are capable
of helping, student success requires the student be willing to help themselves
as well. It’s a responsibility I hope each of our students take seriously. To
aid in that I’ve identified my top five tips to ensure a successful college
1. Show up.
We can’t force students to come to class or take advantage
of our campus resources; you have to want to be here. The truism that life is
mostly just showing up applies to your education. It’s simple. Go to class, see
an advisor, visit the Learning Commons, whatever you do just be here and
2. Ask questions.
As talented as our employees may be, not a one of them are
mind readers. That means if you have a question, you have to ask for an answer.
We have experts on campus in virtually every aspect of higher education. Whether
it’s about the application for admission or about your coursework (or anything
in between), someone here can help.
3. Get to know your instructors.
Teachers are people, too. Getting to know them is a great
way to gather what is expected of you, engage in the class, and learn how to
excel. Every instructor has office hours where you can go if you are needing
help understanding what was taught in class or you just need some general. They
are excellent resources for navigating your College experience. This is also a
great way to find a mentor.
4. Get engaged.
For students who tell me they feel disconnected, I always urge
them to join a student organization. Though we are a commuter campus, we are
fortunate to have many great clubs for all interests and aspirations. Not only are
these a great way to meet friends, research suggests students who engage in
student orgs perform better academically and are more likely to graduate.
5. Did I mention showing up?
Not just being here in person, but being an aware and active
participant in your education. Seriously, it’s important.
With that I just want to say, welcome to TCC! No matter if
you are returning or new, it is my privilege to congratulate each of our students
on making the decision to attend Tallahassee Community College. Best of luck
this semester and all the semesters ahead.
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, May 29, 2014
A couple weeks ago, I received an evaluation of the
Black Male Achievers (BMA) program in my inbox. For those of you who don’t
know, BMA is a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its
black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their
post-secondary education through the practices of academic, social and
occupational excellence. I had requested the evaluation in order to determine the
educational and personal impact of this program on its participants.
According to the data collected, it was found that BMA
members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates, and a higher graduation
rate compared to their non-BMA peers. Five of the program’s members are active
members of Student Government Association (SGA) and of the twelve members who
graduated from TCC this month, most will be transferring on to a state
Perhaps more significantly, all of the members of BMA reported
the program has made a positive impact on their lives, empowering them as
students and as citizens to be the change they wish to see in the world. They
cited their exposure to positive role models, opportunities to network with
professionals, exposure to black history and opportunities to give back to the
community as benefits of the program, creating an environment that supports
student success. One student stated that the program helped him get his life
back on track, while another called it a “life changer.” Through the
requirements of the program, rules become habits and habits become success.
Why is this important?
At the core of every higher education mission is the
desire to bring out the best in students through opportunity. But at an open
education institution like ours, we bring out the best in students through equity of opportunity. We aren’t
admitting cookie-cutter students based on someone’s opinion of what a perfect academic
should be. We are open education which means we welcome a vibrant and diverse
group of individuals with unique needs and goals. Our job is to create the setting where any
student, regardless of race, gender, religion, etc., can take their first step
towards realizing their full potential.
We cannot demand success from our students without providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals.
We cannot demand success from our students without
providing a variety of outlets through which they can grow as individuals. This
is why we have programs like BMA, Connect2Complete, Phi Theta Kappa, Model
United Nations, Theatre TCC, STEM programs, International Student Organization,
Student Veterans Association and many others. It’s why we have enriching study
abroad programs, a well-equipped library and an award-winning tutoring center.
These are not officious organizations and services meant to make us look better
on paper; they are living, breathing resources that provide the equity of
opportunity our students need.
Equity of opportunity also means going beyond our
campus. Relationships with area universities and partnerships with local
businesses are equally vital. From the on-campus university partners to our
workforce training clients, we are always working on paths to help students
along after graduation. In fact, I feel there is a need for an annual meeting
with Florida State University and Florida A&M University leadership to
evaluate the value of our current degrees and catalog the region’s needs.
Resolve is, of course, the student’s responsibility –
college is hard work and takes no small amount of perseverance – but providing equity
of opportunity is our responsibility. To that end, we will proudly continue to
foster organizations such as BMA and the valuable qualities they promote in our
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, April 24, 2014
We’ve reached one of my favorite times of the year. Spring is in the air, the semester is winding down and another great academic year is wrapping up. But most importantly, next weekend, we will get to gather together to celebrate the successes of our wonderful graduates, the class of 2014.
Graduation is bittersweet, of course, as we are also saying goodbye. I always hope that the students we send off will not become strangers. There are many benefits to staying in our community and giving back. Whether it is continuing an education at any of the world-class universities in town, or securing a public or private sector job and putting down roots, Tallahassee offers lots of opportunities.
And TCC has given our graduates the skills and credentials to take advantage of any of these opportunities. We pride ourselves in teaching not just academics, but citizenship and service as well. Our students become nurses, police officers, water quality technicians, and software developers. Their education makes them competitive in their chosen markets and highly employable. For every dollar students invest in themselves at TCC, their future income is increased by about $6.50, or an average of 17% return on investment. Likewise, for every dollar of state tax money invested in TCC, $3.60 is returned to the taxpayers and overall, our College boosts the local economies in our service area by $387.7 million annually.
However, though our impact can be seen on a large scale, it is only achieved through individualized experiences. Our students are not just another number here. We are so very proud of each and every one of them. Students like Candace Tibbetts, who was recently named to the All-Florida Academic Team, or Anthony Johnson, this year’s commencement speaker, or the TCC Model United Nations group or the TCC Softball team or Theatre TCC!, whom have all represented our College with distinction this year. But also the students who come to class every day and do the work that will benefit themselves and their families. We recognize the drive in each of them and are continuously inspired by their determination. Our doors will always be open to them, even after graduation, and we hope they will feel welcome to come back and say hello, attend a community event, maybe even take another class or two.
Finally, to the TCC class of 2014 I want to say, graduation is not the last stop on the road, it’s the first stop. That’s why it is called “commencement.” My advice is to recognize that the future will bring challenges as well as rewards so prepare accordingly. Continuing your education, informally or formally, will help you along your journey no matter where your ambitions take you.
Congratulations, graduates, and best wishes!
There’s been a lot of buzz circulating as of late here at
the College over technology. Just a few short months ago, the District Board of
Trustees approved the purchase of a cloud-based enterprise resource
planning (ERP) software system, along with a partnership with the provider, Workday,
Inc., to help design a revolutionary new student system from the ground up.
We’ve also been working on our next quality enhancement plan (QEP) as part of
our accreditation process. The QEP theme will be technology and digital
literacy across the curriculum.
This year will truly be the start of a new,
more technology-focused chapter for our College.
As many of our employees learned at the Workday project
kick-off a few weeks ago, we are moving quickly in the direction of our goals.
Configuration and testing of our first phase of the ERP, student recruiting,
begins this month with deployment expected sometime late summer or early fall.
Then the process will move on to other areas such as human capital management,
admissions, financial aid and advising, some of which will be simultaneous. Completed
implementation is expected sometime in 2017 which may sound far away to some,
but is actually quite impressive considering the amount of work that must be
Collectively, this project will require
some tens of thousands of hours and the
involvement of not only Workday and our implementation partner, CedarCrestone,
but also nearly every area of our College. It is the single largest technology
project we have ever undertaken. However, the large team that is leading the
charge on campus has already proven to be enthusiastic and quick-thinking as they
are well on their way to an on-time completion of the first phase.
On the academic side, the QEP committee announced the winner
of their recent naming contest. Students were invited via email and social
media to weigh in on the development of the QEP strategy and give it a name.
The name that was chosen, Digital FOCUS (Find, Operate, Create, Utilize
and Share), won its author an iPad Air. Over the
coming months, the QEP committee will finalize their strategy and create
initiatives to help our College leverage new and existing technologies to keep
our students digitally literate in the classroom and beyond. This will satisfy both
accreditation standards and our College’s mission while also significantly improving
the student learning environment.
As we work through the many tasks ahead of us, let’s not forget that the work we do today puts us at the forefront of tomorrow and will help create a better College for our students and our future.
These projects represent only two of the larger efforts we
have undertaken to advance areas such as student onboarding, academic planning
and leadership. We are fortunate to live in a digital age where technology is
readily available and can offer solutions to maximize the experiences in these
areas, areas where I see effectiveness as more important than efficiency. Efficiency
is great for established processes, but when confronted with change, efficiency
can sometimes create barriers. Effectiveness thrives in changing environments
and sees barriers as opportunities for advancement.
I believe technology will change the face of our College.
envision a future where employees transition our business processes into best
practices; where students are able to service their own accounts easily with
online and mobile functionality; where evaluation involves tools like apps and
micro-credentials, and serves to enhance student and the employee experiences,
not hinder them. As we work through the many tasks ahead of us, let’s not
forget that the work we do today puts us at the forefront of tomorrow and will
help create a better College for our students and our future.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, February 26, 2014
This week, our College was proud to launch the
TCC2FSU Golden Guarantee Program. This program offers guaranteed admission into
Florida State University for those students who continue to meet the academic
requirements to complete their Associate in Arts degree program at Tallahassee
Community College. It will also be a great opportunity for students who want to
go to FSU but were not admitted initially. This pathway will allow them to
achieve that goal.
The program is another demonstration of the
proven partnership between TCC and FSU. We are the #1 transfer school to
Florida State in addition to being #1 nationally in producing A.A. degrees
among two-year colleges. Studies have shown, our students do well at FSU and
graduate at the same rate as their classmates who started at FSU. They thrive
in the classroom and in the Seminole community having already developed
friendships in their first two years in Tallahassee.
This program is designed to help our students start
right and stay on track for their FSU degrees with customized orientations,
individualized advising, and special opportunities to participate in activities
at FSU. Of course, participants will
also enjoy the personal touch that our caring faculty and staff offer in and
out of the classroom.
I would like to point out that the TCC2FSU
program is just one of the many transfer pathways we have established or are currently
working on to ensure our students’ success beyond our College. We know that students are attracted to
Tallahassee because of the excellent opportunities our community provides in
higher education. The diversity of these opportunities is directly represented
here at TCC where, in addition to the public universities, we partner with five different private colleges and
universities who offer many in-demand baccalaureate degrees right here on our
These programs are important not just to TCC and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and will continue to increase in significance in the future.
We have also set up guaranteed transfer
programs to FAMU and UWF which we will launch this spring, and we are in talks
with other four-year schools that are looking for more qualified transfer
students like those here at TCC. I hope to establish many partnerships of this
nature in the months and years to come so that our students can have as many
options as possible.
These programs are important not just to TCC
and our partner universities; they are important to our community today and
will continue to increase in significance in the future. The more students we
bring to our area and the more graduates we retain locally, the more we
invigorate our economy. This will pay dividends for our community.
I encourage students to consider the TCC2FSU
Golden Guarantee Program. Those who are interested can learn more about program
benefits and application details at: www.tcc.fl.edu/tcc2fsu
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, October 22, 2013
It was January 21, 1964 when an official request was made to
conduct a survey to determine if there was a need for a two-year junior college
in the Leon, Wakulla and Gadsden county area. Two years later, Tallahassee
Community College, then known as Tallahassee Junior College, opened its doors.
Yesterday’s Board of Trustees meeting marked another important
milestone in our history – I brought to vote and the Board approved a measure
to move forward with the development of a
proposal for adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree for those who
already have an Associate in Science in
Nursing. I brought it forward because I believe the
timing is compelling and the three objectives we set for ourselves at the
beginning of this discussion have been met:
It is good for our
One of our College’s primary missions has always been to
provide a high quality, affordable learning
environment. I place great value in that. No degree we offer should be financially
inaccessible. Our research shows our College can offer an RN to BSN program
with no substantial increase in tuition. With facilities already in place at
the Ghazvini Center, virtually no new resources would be needed and start-up
costs can remain low.
We also researched retention rates, licensure rates, optimal
class times, degree path – all aspects of the student experience in a new
nursing program have been vetted. Finally, we reached out to our current
students, alumni and community to see if this is something they wanted. The
response was an overwhelming, resounding ‘YES.’
It is good for our
Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare President and CEO Mark
O’Bryant spoke at the meeting yesterday on the value of our graduates at TMH,
and how their education, qualifications and confidence in their practice make
them preferred hires. However, in three years’ time their hospital’s Nurse
Residency Program will require baccalaureate degrees. Regardless of how notable
our current grads are, they would have been excluded. I am glad to say we will
not be turning our backs on them.
In addition to TMH, I was contacted by other local
healthcare organizations such as Capital Regional Medical Center, Westminster
Oaks and the upcoming VA hospital, and they have expressed similar sentiments.
The need is there. They are ready for us to meet it.
Of course, I also did not move forward until many
discussions and planning meetings were conducted with our University Partners to
ensure that our forward momentum would not interfere with their programs’
success. Our goal was always to create growth opportunities, not a competitive
It is good for our
Relevancy is a priority for any higher education institution. The writing is on the wall in the Florida
College System with 24 of the 28 institutions having already begun adding
four-year programs. A paradigm shift is happening. All the same, being at the
front of the pack is less important to me than fiscal stewardship so we ran the
numbers to make sure a new nursing program would be financially viable.
Happily, our research shows that a baccalaureate degree in nursing would bring
in significant revenue, a welcome concept in lean budget years. State
legislature has also already committed a total of $30 million to expand
baccalaureate degrees in Florida, funds we would not have been eligible for
without the Board’s decision yesterday.
Moving this initiative from idea to vote has assured me of
just how much our Trustees love our College, something I was already well aware
of. We’ve had many good conversations and I respect all sides greatly.
Now that the decision has been made, the real work begins. At this point, it is premature to talk about changing the name. If our proposal is approved, then we will have to entertain that conversation. We’ve got a lot of t’s to cross and i’s to dot over the coming months and
years. However, I fully anticipate this process will go smoother than most
would think. Demand-driven initiatives tend to do that, in my experience. All are welcome to leave any comments or questions on my
Facebook page at facebook.com/jimmurdaugh, or join us at our next Strategic Plan event on October 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Florida Public Safety Institute in
Thursday, September 26, 2013
Good things come to those who
research thoroughly, plan accordingly and execute decisively.
During the month of October, the
College will be presenting our brand new five-year Strategic Plan to the
community in three open forum events. The Plan outlines nine priorities, 35
strategies and has already prompted some very exciting discussions and
commitments around here. But our work has only just begun.
Enrollment is one of the Plan’s
top priorities under which we will be developing and executing a Strategic
Enrollment Management (SEM) plan to take effect during the 2014-15 academic
year. To be clear, an SEM plan is more than just more students; SEM is a
comprehensive process that encompasses everything from growing signature
programs to recruiting top students to managing student success to helping
alumni achieve their career goals. It is designed to guide a sustained and
healthy increase in student and institutional success.
In short, this new SEM plan will
keep TCC moving forward.
What does all this mean for you? Among many
For students, your student experience will receive a facelift –
applying, orientation, enrollment, career planning, learning resources,
co-curricular activities, and graduation, these and other student touch points
will be streamlined and improved.
For faculty, academic programs will be assessed for need and
opportunity, advising and career counseling will be refined, and we will be
developing or expanding strategies for early alert and intervention. We will
also plan for better professional development and technology implementation. We
want to make sure our instructors have the resources they need for our students
For staff, we will foster a culture of evaluation and feedback from
all resource areas so each staff member has the tools to identify areas of
improvement for everything from the application process to record keeping to
For our community, this will mean TCC will continue to remain relevant and
useful in today’s ever-changing education landscape.
SEM is just part of our overall
Strategic Plan. To hear more about our other priorities, please join us one of
the three Strategic Plan events:
- Wakulla County on
October 1 at 5:30 p.m. at the Wakulla Center
- Leon County on
October 21 at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union Ballroom on TCC’s Main Campus
- Gadsden County on
October 30 at 5:30 p .m. at the Florida Public Safety Institution
For more information about our
Strategic Plan, SEM or any of the upcoming events, visit the Strategic Plan section of our Web site.
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, August 22, 2013
Monday’s Board of Trustees workshop saw a historic discussion take place – will TCC become a state college? It’s an excellent question, and one we wouldn’t be asking ourselves if a need hadn’t arisen from the community.
First of all, it’s important to note that of the 28 schools in the Florida College System, 23 have already added four-year programs. This signals a distinct change in the system and we need to think of what this means for our College.
Secondly, over recent months both of our Tallahassee area hospitals have come to me expressing a growing necessity for an RN to BSN program to keep up with growing industry demands.
Asking the question does not force us in any direction, but not asking the question does.
TCC has always had a commitment to our community. We respond quickly to the workforce needs of those we serve, and those we serve have in turn come to trust us to fulfill those needs. This simple model has seen our College grow from just a small junior college to the #1 A.A. producing two-year College in the nation with over 20,000 students and more than 90 academic and career programs.
Three years ago, while interviewing for this position, I was asked about implementing baccalaureate degree programs in the future. I said then and I maintain today, it is helpful for any college to ask itself from time to time how well it is meeting the expectations of its students and its community. Asking the question does not force us in any direction, but not asking the question does.
What we have to do at this point is talk, and listen. In order to move forward, we will need to determine if adding four-year degrees will be good for, 1) the community, 2) the students, and 3) the College. We will be having lots of conversations with our District Board of Trustees, our faculty and staff, our students, our partners, our employers, our alumni and the public at large. It’s going to take a while, but we want to invite all viewpoints and weigh all the pros and cons.
I don’t believe in change for change’s sake. However, if we do find an unmet need we are well positioned to meet, we will need to have a willingness to go where the data takes us.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will be opening up forums and hosting events to facilitate discussion on this big issue. In the meantime, I invite you to visit my Facebook page and leave your comments at www.facebook.com/jimmurdaugh I look forward to hearing your feedback.
This summer, as with every summer, has been a whirlwind. While many students take advantage of this semester by catching up on one or two classes, experiencing an internship or just relaxing, we administrators are spending every minute preparing the College for the upcoming academic year.
In higher ed, summer is also when institutions are honored for previous years’ achievements. For example, TCC was recently ranked #1 nationally in the number of students graduating with A.A. degrees. That ranking in Community College Week reflects the fact that we awarded 3,006 A.A. degrees during 2011-12. We also ranked No. 5 for awarding associate degrees in all fields to African-American students.
I must say that moments like these leave me humbled. As president of TCC, I get to see first-hand how the enthusiasm of our instructors or advisors can inspire the creativity of a student who can then go on and change the world. Our alumni become nurses, CEO’s, artists, public servants and leaders among their peers, and we believe in each of them as soon as they step through our door. They have goals for their future, and we want to see them achieve those goals.
As I wrote in a recent email to our faculty and staff, the numbers confirm that TCC students are reaching their goals – graduating and moving on to a university or directly into the workforce. This kind of success is not something that happens overnight; it is years in the making. These rankings are an affirmation of both the determination our students possess and the tremendous work our faculty and staff does to bring students to our College and give them the education and support they need to be successful. Thank you! Let’s keep up the good work.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Tallahassee may be a little city, but it’s got big dreams.
The melting pot that exists here between students and government, transients and natives, young and old produces a wonderfully diversified culture. From a leadership perspective, that can sometimes be a challenge, but more often than not, I’ve found that an assortment of perspectives leads to more creative ideas and better solutions.
For that reason, I like to take collaborative approach to decision-making whenever possible. For example, the College’s recently finalized Strategic Plan was the result of months of surveys, town hall meetings and research, listening to faculty, staff, students, and the community in order to formulate priorities and strategies for the next five years. TCC now has an excellent plan to move forward with focused goals that encompass all areas of our College.
I believe it is my privilege and duty to be involved in the community as much as humanly possible, and I also encourage our faculty, staff, and students to do the same.
The grassroots initiative Imagine Tallahassee, which I am excited to be a part of, has followed a similar path. Their mission is to provide citizens with a chance to brand Tallahassee by creating a long-term community vision. They have now hosted multiple forums and roundtables for the public, and plan to host more through partners around town. I believe the resulting strategy will be dynamic, exciting and more importantly, integral to the future of Tallahassee. The results of this effort will serve to help policy-makers identify projects that they can fund to grow the economy of our region.
I’m also honored to have been selected as chair of the Economic Development Council of Tallahassee/Leon County (EDC), a post which I will assume this coming October. In line with Imagine Tallahassee, the EDC is committed to economic prosperity in our community. They appreciate the different facets of Tallahassee’s identity and want to see its full potential realized through the combined effort of its citizens, private sector, education and local government. I’m definitely enthusiastic about the work both Imagine Tallahassee and the EDC are about to do in the next year or two.
The reason I am telling you all this is to explain one of my principle motivations as president of TCC. I believe it is my privilege and duty to be involved in the community as much as humanly possible, and I also encourage our faculty, staff, and students to do the same.
Our College has worked hard since 1966 to be a valuable resource to the community and every year, we continue to attract and support more students and business to this area. We place great value in those who utilize our institution to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, get their education and become successful and productive citizens. We think these individuals are Tallahassee’s most valuable resource. And after graduation, some are leaving the community to find jobs.
This is why TCC wants to not only be the college of choice for our students, we also want to be the partner of choice in our community. We want to be a force for progress in Tallahassee and I believe that with the efforts of organizations like EDC and Imagine Tallahassee, a fantastic synergy can be achieved between the education and employment of top talent, and the progress of the entire community. We should welcome crowd-sourcing and citizen engagement. We need existing businesses to thrive, new businesses to choose to move here, and employment options that keep our graduates here.
We need as much input and ownership from the public as we can get to achieve these goals. I invite all of you to get involved. This is our town, our home, and we have the opportunity to shape its development. Whether it is participating in an Imagine Tallahassee forum, a TCC student organization or a public service project, get involved.
I’m happy to say that TCC has recently finished updating
our new Strategic Plan. This plan, which will have a five-year lifespan,
envisions the future of our institution and incorporates all the feedback we’ve
received over the past few months. It prioritizes the Colleges immediate needs
and sets both short and long term achievement goals in areas such as student
access, technology, enrollment, stewardship and more. The new plan can be
viewed in its entirety here.
Now the real work begins.
I recently hosted a forum for students to weigh in on how
the Strategic Plan will be implemented in areas that affect them. Those who
participated may not have realized it at the time, but they were making College
history as students have never before been involved in the Strategic Planning
process. However, I see this as a logical collaboration – who better than
students to tell us how to cultivate meaningful communication, increase
engagement, and foster a richer campus environment with our students?
I asked the participants to give me specific strategies
on how the College could promote a safe and healthy environment and promote
engagement and service learning. Here are the highlights of the ideas we discussed.
Promote a safe and healthy environment:
- Revisit student code of conduct (examples: smoking on campus; dress code)
- Offer childcare options for TCC students
- Partner with FSU, FAMU and/or municipalities to offer access to community
amenities, recreation facilities and healthcare (example: Leach Center,
- Improve forms of communication that meet students where they are (examples:
increased texting; display college policies and student handbook in different
- Offer healthier and inexpensive dining options on campus
Promote Engagement and Service Learning:
- Improve forms of communication on campus (example: app)
- Increase focus on connecting students with employers (example: host more
- Develop volunteering requirement for classes (example: SLS)
- Reward and incentivize high performance of students
- Extend library hours during peak times (example: open until 2:00 am during
- Promote student aid opportunities (examples: scholarships for TCC and next
phase of education; work study opportunities on campus)
- Increase number of activities available for students (example: more diverse
programming with Eagle Adventures; more opportunities that engage a wider
number of students)
These were all great suggestions that I believe all our
students could agree with. So I also asked the participants to also think about
how the student body could be enabled to apply the strategies they came up
with. For example, should the SGA be more involved in the direction of student
policy? Should the clubs and organizations take a more proactive role in campus
activities? When and where should we be engaging with students?
questions and more are now this committee’s responsibility. Over the next
academic year and beyond, students will be asked to take a more active role in
not only the decisions this College makes, but also in the execution of our
strategies. It is an exciting opportunity for both them and our faculty and
staff. I truly believe that working together we can make TCC a better place.
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, February 22, 2013
Last week, I traveled to Washington, DC with TCC Trustees Dana Callen,
Allison DeFoor, Eugene Lamb and Karen Moore to participate in the National
Legislative Summit hosted by the Association for Community College Trustees.
The Summit offered us the rare opportunity to meet with trustees and presidents
from community colleges around the country and be briefed on key federal issues
impacting our colleges. We are grateful at TCC to have a board that is engaged
in federal, state and local issues that affect our college and our ability to
The week before our trip to Washington, many of our trustees also
attended the Association of Florida Colleges legislative conference hosted here
in Tallahassee. Both programs helped our trustees become more familiar with
issues that could have a cascading impact on higher education in Florida and
across the US.
While in Washington, we also took the opportunity to meet with our
congressional members to share with them the importance of keeping our “open
door” open to students with access to financial aid and academic resources. We
also updated them on the College’s efforts to support economic and workforce
development in our region.
We extend our thanks and gratitude to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco
Rubio and Representative Steve Southerland – and their respective staffs – for
their interest in our College, for taking the time to meet with us while we
were in Washington, and for their service to the citizens of Florida. They are
very familiar with the issues impacting community colleges at the state and
federal levels and I am confident that they are fighting for us every day.
A college is more than a collection of buildings or an online presence. A college is a community—a group of people with the same goal: to learn and to prepare for the future. And a great college is more than just a destination—it is a partner in the success of each student.
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