Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, March 19, 2015
The value of any community college to a student lies in their
ability to provide not just opportunity, but equity of opportunity. Without understanding
that students are individuals who chose our institution for unique reasons, we
can fool ourselves into assuming that all students are alike.
Where they come from, how they got here, and what their
plans are for their future are all factors that influence a student from their very
first day of class to the moment they receive their degree at graduation.
I am proud to say that at Tallahassee Community College (TCC),
we provide an environment designed to help all students thrive. You may have
heard about our recent ranking as a top ten community college in the nation for our focus on college affordability,
an impressive return on investment and a high success rate among our graduates.
As access and success are strategic priorities for our College, we have worked hard to keep tuition low while
maintaining the quality of our instruction, and this ranking demonstrates we
are on target.
We know that a student’s success at TCC often starts before
they ever arrive at our doors.
View the full Board of Trustees workshop presentation here.
During this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, several
important leaders representing eight different College divisions or programs in
Gadsden County presented on each of their respective areas – from the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI) to the Quincy House to Workforce Development. Collectively, these organizations serve thousands of individuals
ranging in age from middle school students to seniors.
Why so many programs and why are they so important?
Gadsden is a county that faces many challenges. As of this
past December, the unemployment rate
stood at 6.1%, nearly a full percentage point higher than the state and
national average. The school district has the 16th highest high
school drop-out rate in the state. According to the 2010 census, about
one in four people were below the poverty line, and nearly one in three subsist
on public assistance and supplemental security income.
During the presentation it was mentioned that last year FPSI
welcomed over 4,000 students and 20,000 visitors to its campus, and they are
currently partnering with 32 different law enforcement agencies across the
state with plans to expand their national and international training.
The College Reach Out Program (CROP) and Take Stock in
Children (TSIC) programs offered through the
college serve nearly 100 middle and high school students with advising,
mentoring and scholarships. In 2014, 100% of those who participated graduated
from high school and 88% now attend TCC. The Educational Talent Search program serves nearly 500 of the same age, most from
low-income, disadvantaged households and they also saw a high school graduation
rate of 70% last year with 80% going on to TCC. By comparison, Gadsden County
graduation rate overall was 56%.
We have also broken ground on a new Gadsden Center in Quincy
which, when it opens later this year, will further support both the academic
and the workforce sides of the house. The important point is that we are
putting down permanent roots in Gadsden and we are making a difference.
These facts and figures do not adequately convey the
tremendous amount of work that is done to make each area a success. What we accomplish
through the leadership of our talented men and women who deliver these programs
is more than a job, it’s a passion and as Trustee Kilpatrick put it, “pride.”
TCC has made a commitment to finding solutions and making a
difference in Gadsden County. Federal grants expire and there will always be
adversities to overcome, but with the help and cooperation of County officials
and the School Board, I believe we can continue to impact our community in a
positive way. Let’s keep moving forward.
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 Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Every year, I look forward to observing Christmas as part of my personal faith. I also take the time to try to learn something new about the many different nationalities and beliefs represented in our College and throughout our community. With students, faculty and staff from over 80 countries, I think it is important to take a moment and recognize the great diversity of holidays that are also celebrated in December from Hanukkah to Kwanzaa.
There’s so much good cheer going around this time of year. Let’s keep that going by embracing this season not just for each individual holiday, but as a larger celebration of diversity and acceptance.
I want to wish our TCC family and friends a joyous holiday season. If you are traveling, be safe on the roads. Otherwise, I hope you share your time with those you care about, laugh a lot, and remember that the best things in life are not things.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, November 24, 2014
Every morning, before the rest of my household is awake, I pour myself a cup of coffee, sit down (lately in front of the fire) and practice what I like to call daily gratitude. This is the time I take to reflect on the things I am thankful for that day. Some items on this list repeat, but others I am reminded of from the previous day’s events, maybe during a staff meeting or at a reception or even just by a chance encounter with an old friend.
Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day.
This exercise has changed the way I approach all the relationships in my life for the better. I find that the more appreciation I practice, the easier it is to empathize and understand others.
Thanksgiving is not just a celebration reserved for once a year, it is a verb and it should happen every day. Repeated actions become habits and our habits are what make us who we are. As we approach the holidays, I want to invite all our campus family to practice daily gratitude. I believe it was Plato that once wrote, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” This couldn’t be truer of our campus family. The longer I am in this position, the more I get to hear others’ stories and the more I realize we all need to pause and appreciate those who we work with because many are fighting harder battles.
With that said, I want to express my gratitude to all those who make our campus a great place to learn and work. Thank you for all you do and have a happy Thanksgiving!
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, October 29, 2014
In my last blog, I wrote about taking the next few months to
recognize each of the key stakeholders of our College and explain the view
ahead for them leading up to some big changes our College is preparing for. In
light of last week’s Open Forum with classified staff, I would like to continue
the conversation by addressing my vision for the staff here at TCC, one of the
most important stakeholder groups of the College.
In 1999, I was hired as the Executive Director for Pat
Thomas Law Enforcement Academy, now known as the Florida Public Safety Institute (FPSI). The Gadsden County campus was much smaller 15 years ago than it
is now. With only a handful of leaky buildings and not much to speak of by way
of curb appeal, over the course of the next few months we spent hundreds of
thousands of dollars just cleaning up, repairing the facilities and hauling
away truckloads of trash.
Going in, my intention had been to simply get the campus in
order, but the result was much greater than that. The more I invested in the
Institute, the more the staff took the lead and the more the place began to
shine. An element of pride began to seep into the culture that was contagious
to everyone, including the students. It became easier to upkeep the facilities,
easier to enforce instruction, and by extension, easier to motivate the whole
team to excel.
That’s when I realized something I have not forgotten since.
In an educational institution, the staff are the people who shape the entire
learning environment. And the learning environment is what sets the
expectations, far before any actual learning takes place.
Imagine a new college student coming to TCC and seeing
overgrown trees and crumbling buildings. Imagine by the time they get to the
Admissions Office, they’ve had to walk past overflowing trash cans and dirty
classrooms. When they try to register, the Web site is broken, or when they
visit Financial Aid, there aren’t any advisors working.
Without adequate and talented staff, the student isn’t able
to discover if the instructors at our College are good or not because they’d
never get that far.
A Commitment to Professional Development
We ask our staff to do consistent, meaningful work day after
day all year ‘round. Last week at the open forum, one of the most striking
conversations was about professional development which speaks to this point.
TCC has a strong commitment to professional development. In
addition to being the college of choice, we want to be the employer of choice
and as such, we endeavor to provide opportunities for our employees to grow.
When our employees are allowed to grow, they keep the College thriving, and
when the College is thriving, everyone benefits.
However, there is more than one type of professional development
– the kind where you go to a workshop or conference and come back “developed”,
and the kind where you get involved with projects that allow you to stretch
your skills while learning new ones. I see the latter as an often misunderstood
form of professional development, though one our College does exceptionally well
Getting involved here on campus is easy. Aside from
development programs like Leadership TCC, there is important work carried out
by standing committees, volunteer opportunities and mentorships with students
or junior staff. We’ve got multiple technology implementations happening right
now as well as new initiatives like the Alumni and Friends Association,
launching next year, and the 50th anniversary fast approaching in
It is my desire that each member of our team pitches in on one
of these projects. It’s an opportunity to not only grow as a professional, but
to play a significant role in the decision making of the College.
Furthermore, I know many of you don’t plan on being in your
current position forever. In fact, I have had many people tell me they want my
job someday. I love to hear that. Advancement in a career is one of the most
rewarding experiences for any professional. My advice to those individuals is
similar to the “dress for the job you want” expression, except instead you
should seek out ways to learn the job you want before you get it. If you want a
promotion, start cultivating the relationships and learning the job
Another discussion at the open forum I feel is important for
this topic had to do with personnel hiring, compensation and discipline. The
Strategic Plan addresses this subject as a priority. We want to “hire,
develop and retain the best talent” for our “present and future needs.”
“Get the best people and train them well.” -Scott
To be an employer of choice is something I take quite
seriously. Who we hire to what positions with what tools is the most important
decision we make. The evolution of human resources has taken us into a new age
where job descriptions are adaptable, and bright talent with broad skill sets
are in high demand. Those with dedication and aptitude should be hired quickly
and compensated fairly.
It is also important who we choose to keep. Not everyone is
cut out for where they are. Not everyone is a good fit for who they work with. Any
personnel action sends a message as much to the College as a whole as it does
to the individual. Each decision must be weighed carefully and deliberately
before it is made to protect the enriching work environment we have worked hard
to achieve here.
For years we have said that if your job isn’t to teach, it’s
to deliver students to the classroom prepared to learn. I appreciate the work
our staff does year round in delivering our students to the classroom. Our
campus is beautiful, our facilities are well kept, our classrooms clean and our
doors are always open to those students who are ready to walk through them.
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, 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, January 28, 2014
On Monday, TCC
unveiled our 14th annual Cherry Alexander African-American History
Calendar in a special event that both showcased the calendar’s 14 honorees and kicked off our celebration of
Black History Month. This year’s theme for the calendar was, “Civil Rights
Unsung Heroes: Great by Choice” and each of the individuals featured in the
calendar were chosen for their significant contributions to the community.
ceremony, I found myself reflecting on the “great by choice” theme. The calendar’s
honorees were all pioneering leaders who at any point in their careers could
have chosen an easier path. Fortunately for all of us, they chose to be the
first to break through their respective barriers, improving the path for all
those who would follow and promoting our country’s founding principles of
equality and opportunity.
Diversity, particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College.
appreciate the theme because TCC is known as the “college of choice,” a tagline
which I feel has many different meanings. For example, we are the college of
choice for over 4,700 African American students. (For perspective: that is just
over half as many students as Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
enrolled in Fall 2012.) In 2013, we were ranked fifth in the nation among two-year colleges in awarding
associate degrees to African American students having graduated over 700
African American students.
We are also
the employer of choice for many outstanding African American faculty and staff
like recently retired math professor Mac McCorvey who, until his
retirement, was the most senior faculty member at the college, and Kimberly
Moore, vice president for workforce development who was appointed to the FAMU
Board of Trustees last year and selected by the Florida Diversity Council
to receive their 2014 Florida Most Powerful and Influential Woman Award.
particularly as a minority serving institution, among our student population as
well as among our faculty and staff, is a great source of pride for our College.
The cultural richness that comes as a result is not only a fortunate side-effect
of our open-education policy, it has become an essential component of our
collective success. Every day thousands of students, faculty and staff come
together on this campus. They bring their own individual experiences, insights,
and talents, and together they create something cool, something new, something
better. We are, and always will be, greater than the sum of our parts and that is the story of our College.
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, December 6, 2013
This semester has flown by, as has this entire year. Already we are putting up the decorations, gathering family and friends, and celebrating the holidays again.
I blinked, and 2013 is over. Or at least that’s how it feels.
In reality we have had another great year at Tallahassee Community College. There have been a few challenges but many more accomplishments. In case you missed some of our College’s biggest news stories, here are just a few highlights.
We certainly have a lot going on, none of which would be possible without the students, faculty and staff that make it happen. The individuals that comprise our TCC family all believe in the College’s principles of freedom and equality through open access to education, and being a 'College of Choice'. They come here from all over to learn, to grow and to give back. Needless to say, it is an inspiring place to work.
This season, I invite you to reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. Myself, I am thankful for a fulfilling job and the many great family and friends who remind me every day what is important in a life well lived.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Many may not know it, but modern higher education owes a
great deal to the military.
The months and years following the end of World War II was a
time of change. With all the veterans returning from war, leadership recognized
an opportunity to help transition our nation into the new world order and
passed the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, more commonly known as the
G.I. Bill. The Bill paid educational tuition and board, and made college
accessible for many veterans who couldn’t have afforded it otherwise. As a
result, tens of thousands of much-needed college educated engineers, teachers,
scientists and other professionals were graduated over the next few years and
colleges and universities grew and flourished along with the nation’s economy.
Today, student veterans continue to benefit institutions of
higher education everywhere. Their perspective improves each initiative,
organization and classroom they participate in. Their maturity and discipline
add incalculable value to any student body.
Almost every decision I’ve made and will continue to make at
Tallahassee Community College works back to the end goal of creating a learning environment that
produces well-rounded global citizens. We have a responsibility to provide
degrees with both market value and social value. We are committed to producing
citizens with diversity and distinction who promote democracy and understand
service. Veteran students are particularly well-suited for this. They have come
to our campus from all paths having made a conscious decision to better their
lives. In turn, TCC strives to provide the resources to help them transition
back into a meaningful civilian life, including:
Veteran’s Affairs is a specialized office that provides exclusive services to eligible veterans, dependents, active duty servicepersons, and members of the Selected Reserve.
The Student Veteran’s Association is a non-political student organization that promotes a welcoming atmosphere
for all branches of prior military service and their supporters. They
participate in many community events including the Tallahassee Veteran’s Day
The Veteran’s Center is a recently opened space dedicated to helping veterans in their transition to
college. Everything from academic advising to management training to academic
tutoring is offered there.
A dedicated VA
adviser is now available two days a week in the Veteran’s Center to
facilitate veterans and dependents with VA benefits, GI Bill programs, work study
opportunities and more.
GI benefits programs are available to all veterans and active duty servicepersons with
one-on-one guidance offered to help students identify the best program to fit
their educational goals.
It is our honor to be considered a “veteran friendly”
to be one of the 250 institutions participating in the 8 Keys to Success.
Our College will continue to do everything we can to promote those who have
served our country. Their stories of dedication and sacrifice are a constant
inspiration. We owe a great debt to them,
greater than we can repay. Our sincerest thanks to them.
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 Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Welcome to fall semester 2013 at Tallahassee Community College!
Now that another summer has come to a close and fall semester 2013 has begun, I find myself once again reflecting on the months and years past. Though it feels like the blink of an eye, this November will mark my third year as president of Tallahassee Community College. We’ve had a lot of changes during those three years, the most recent of which I discuss in my Summer Mash-Up video below.
But one thing that hasn’t changed is my respect for our students, faculty and staff, the three pillars of our campus family. Their enthusiasm for what we do reminds me every day of what makes our College such a great success – the talent of our faculty, the dedication of our staff and the determination of our students. I’m excited to see what this new year will bring.
A few housekeeping notes. The College’s new Strategic Plan is available on our Web site here. The Plan describes our vision, our mission and how we hope to implement strategic priorities over the coming year and beyond. Also, students should become familiar with our Code of Conduct which can be found here. It outlines standards of conduct, procedures and student rights which are all designed to ensure our campus remains “a place of learning, safety, shared responsibility and harmony.”
Finally, I highly recommend that everyone gets involved on campus as much as possible this year whether it is through volunteer opportunities afforded by the Office of Service Learning and Civic Engagement, or with a student organization. College is such a great experience and getting involved only enriches that experience while also benefiting our campus and our community.
As we kick-off another academic year, I hope everyone will remember to hold each other in as high regard as I do. Work hard, study a lot, have fun and reach for the stars. Good luck!
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.
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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