As most of you know, 2016 is our 50th anniversary as a college. Over the course of those 50 years we have grown and changed, sometimes in response to changing needs and often as a result of inspired leaders whose vision and leadership guided the college through periods of great challenge.
As we moved into our 50th anniversary year, I learned things that have been especially moving for me. In the past three months, I’ve heard stories from our rich history that I had never heard and established many new relationships with people who have all been impacted by TCC in one way or another throughout the years.
I’ve gotten to talk personally with some amazing people like Helen Harvey, Dot Binger and Judy Jolly, all of whom helped found TCC and educated some of our first students, as well as Sam Cunningham and Charlie Macon, who were leading this College as trustees as far back as 1966. What a humbling experience to learn their stories and how they shaped our college over the past decades.
Our milestone year presents us with an excellent opportunity for everyone to rally around the College and help us lay the groundwork for the next 50 years. So after months of thorough planning and hard work our Vice President for Resource Development and Executive Director of the Foundation Heather Mitchell officially announced our comprehensive campaign for the College, “TCC. We Rise.”, at the Foundation's First Annual Cleaver and Cork Event on March 4. The campaign includes six areas of focus:
- TCC Downtown Center – to create a unique education hub in the heart of Tallahassee that links the for-profit, non-profit, and government sectors in ways that stimulate innovation
- TCC Gadsden Center – to provide access for Gadsden County students and residents to degrees and workforce programs that lead to jobs with family sustaining wages
- TCC Wakulla Environmental Institute – to make Wakulla County a world class destination that brings together education, conservation, and recreation in an environmentally sensitive way
- Teaching and Learning Environments – to transform classrooms into spaces that leverage the use of furniture and technology to promote collaboration and encourage critical thinking
- Bridging the Gap Scholarships – to expand access for students in strategic academic and workforce programs that meet the demands of our region’s employers
- TCC Endowment – to secure TCC’s ability to react to future opportunities with the resources to help guide our direction and destiny
I’m thrilled to say today that our campaign has already reached $5.3 million of our $10 million goal. I attribute much of that success to Heather’s skilled leadership with an amazing team behind her, as well as the leadership of two other power women – the unstoppable Pam Butler, president of the Foundation Board of Directors, and the dynamic and passionate Karen Moore, TCC trustee and campaign chair, a pillar in our community and one of the most gracious and accomplished people I’ve ever known. I commend these three for their leadership.
As our campaign continues to develop, I have had the opportunity to meet with alumni, donors, and potential donors. Every single person I have spoken with made it clear that this community believes in what we’re doing at TCC. They all have family or friends of employees who went here, or they went here themselves. Theirs is a deep and universal gratitude for our College. They want to invest in the future of the College because of their past with the College, and they are as delighted to give recognition as they are to receive it. Their philanthropy is about their personal connection.
TCC is not just a community college, it’s a community institution. I know that, the students know that and everyone who works here knows that. Please join us this year because together we rise!
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Taking time to be retrospective is a wonderful exercise. Months ago when we started preparing for TCC’s 50th Anniversary year we spent a lot of time looking back, from the foundation of the College to today, and who helped us along the way. The photos and documents we pulled from the archives, some of which dated back years before the doors even opened, were a wonderful reminder of our rich history and the significance of our institution.
With our anniversary year now well underway, everywhere I go there are people who have been impacted by TCC and express to me their heartfelt gratitude for the tremendous work we do. They ask, “Is Professor so-and-so still at the College?” or they tell me how much they loved a certain advisor or class. Some days it seems like most of our community either was a student, or knew a student, or hired a student. I can’t begin to tell you how rewarding it is that these remarkable people, some of which I work with on a regular basis, have such a positive impression of this institution.
It continued last Thursday evening when we honored 50 such alumni as part of our 50 for 50 – a profile series that celebrates each of their achievements since graduation. The excitement in the room as each of them received their recognition was palpable. There was so much pride in being a part of TCC at such a momentous time.
For one of the honorees, TCC was as much a part of their family history as they are a part of ours. David Chapman’s mother, Ruth, had served on our founding Advisory Board which organized the new College and would later become the District Board of Trustees. His father, Harold, was one of our celebrated early faculty and taught from 1967-79. David graduated in 1972 alongside his wife Diane and they were married the year after. A generation later, their two sons would attend here. They all take pride in TCC.
We could go on and on about the number of students we’ve served or the economic impact we’ve had on our community in 50 years, but this is what really matters – improving the fabric of our community, touching individual lives, being a part of the foundations of students’ success. That is why we’re here.
I can’t wait for what’s next. I hope all our faculty, staff, students and alumni will take the opportunity to join us for one of our many upcoming events.
On January 28, I will be hosting the Archive Gallery Exhibit Opening in the Fine and Performing Arts Center from 5:30 - 7 p.m. In addition to the many pieces of photography from 50 years of history that we will have on display, we will also be premiering the 50th Anniversary short film, “Celebrating a Legacy, Building a Future.”
We also have our first ribbon-cutting ceremony of the year on February 15 at the Wakulla Environmental Institute. More details on that to come.
Visit 50.tcc.fl.edu for more information.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, January 4, 2016
Every organization has a certain amount of inertia or velocity with which it moves steadily forward. This forward momentum is almost never the result of one massive push, but rather many small and determined pushes that are motivated by a collective desire for progress.
I have the honor of being at the helm of Tallahassee Community College as we celebrate our landmark 50th anniversary. This institution has seen some of the most hardworking, most dedicated people come through its doors over the last 50 years, students and employees alike. Each of them have shaped the College in their own way.
Where we are today and where we are going is the direct result of their small and determined pushes forward.
Looking back is humbling
Every morning I pass the portraits of my predecessors on my way to my office. They hang on the wall just outside the Board Room and always remind me of the tremendous legacy of our College as well as that of the Office of the President. I am humbled to be counted among their ranks.
Our founding president Dr. Fred Turner was hired when we were nothing more than a legislative act and a service district and over the course of fourteen years, built us into one of the fastest-growing, most respected colleges in the state. It is said that he knew how to put people at ease, the type of man who “just got things done” which probably explains how he managed to not only create such a solid institution from scratch but also hire some of the region’s best teachers and staff. After Turner, Dr. Marm Harris significantly expanded the student experience with cultural and athletics programs though he was only here for two years.
Our third president Dr. Jim Hinson fostered record-setting enrollment and faculty retention rates while simultaneously expanding the footprint of the College. A World War II veteran honored with a Bronze Star, Hinson was well-known as a man with integrity and a great reputation in higher education circles. Over the course of his 12 years at TCC, he was able to secure some of the best legislative support to date and the highest faculty salary average in the Florida College System.
Dr. T.K. Wetherell was and still remains one of the most esteemed members of our community. His impact on TCC can be seen in the scope and beauty of our campuses and the strength of our community relationships. Never before was there a president who accomplished so much, so quickly and with such quality. And finally our fifth president Dr. William Law – a gifted leader and strategist, his passion for academics led to a substantial expansion in programming as well as the establishment of groundbreaking student support services like the Learning Commons.
What is important to note is that none of these leaders had a truly blank slate to work from. They were each faced with a unique set of pre-existing challenges when they came into office. There were countless budget cut-backs and reorganizations, legislative issues and construction delays. But there were also opportunities – to adapt, to grow, to serve.
Looking back, each president was successful in navigating the challenges, leveraging the opportunities and progressing the College, even if the hours were long and progress was incremental.
The future we build for TCC will be on the foundation laid by these men.
What we do and how we do it
Looking ahead I know that while many things will change, our College’s core values will not.
We are demand-driven.
One of our foremost responsibilities has always been to be responsive to the needs of our community, not just in the kinds of degrees or certificates we offer, but also in the method with which we offer them and the level of support and auxiliary programming we provide alongside.
The state of higher education today is such that we often find ourselves serving some students who possess better technology than the College itself alongside other students who have no access to technology or even reliable transportation and depend on our Centers and computer labs to access their classes. The technology landscape changes so quickly that we are often faced with having to choose long-term improvements over short-term enhancements as was the case with our new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. We chose Workday because we needed a forward-looking solution, not one that was built for the present.
Similarly, whole workforce industries are disappearing every year while others are just coming into existence. Tomorrow’s fast growing careers don’t exist today. How do we adapt? By staying nimble enough to make adjustments according to demand. Two years ago, no one would have ever thought we would be teaching students how to fly unmanned vehicles, but a need was expressed and we are now on our second class.
It is also vital that we teach skills that are transferable. For example, I just recently took the Presidents for Entrepreneurship Pledge as a uniquely effective way to provide students with the tools they need to succeed and help support our local economy. Entrepreneurship is not just a career path, it’s a mindset that spurs innovation and job creation.
Most importantly, we have to make sure whatever program we offer leads to a career. To this end, we have made major commitments to our service district through our county-specific workforce institutes – the Florida Public Safety Institute in Gadsden, the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education in Leon and the Wakulla Environmental Institute in Wakulla. These dedicated facilities are entirely dedicated to providing an advanced level of career training in public safety, healthcare and the environment, respectively, which are the sectors in our workforce that we have identified as strategic to the success of our district, our College, and our students.
We are student-centric.
Access is the hallmark of a community college. At TCC, we don’t have GPA minimums or extracurricular requirements, we have an open door. We keep college affordable by maintaining one of the lowest tuition rates in the state. We have always placed an emphasis on teaching as was indicated by our very first catalog back in 1966:
"The truest measure of the worth of any college is its faculty. The Tallahassee Junior College faculty is a TEACHING faculty… Their major efforts are directed toward the student in the classroom, toward helping him master his subject matter and toward helping him realize his potential."
Access does not just mean the first step, though. Every semester we welcome a vibrant and diverse group of students with unique needs. We are here to bring out the best in them, to help them succeed from their first class to graduation and beyond. Last year, I requested an evaluation of the Black Male Achievers (BMA) program, a TCC student organization designed to empower and educate its black male students on the importance of the successful completion of their postsecondary education through the practices of academic, social and occupational excellence. I was delighted to learn that BMA members have higher course success rates, higher retention rates and higher graduation rates compared to their non-BMA peers. Furthermore, five of the program’s participants were active members of Student Government Association and of the 12 members who graduated from TCC that semester, most transferred on to a state university. We consider support for these types of programs a duty and a privilege.
Responding to our communities’ needs, keeping that door open for our students, focusing on the classroom experience, constantly seeking ways to position ourselves at the forefront of industry advancements, these are the ways we are able to stay true to our founding principles.
The next 50
It is certainly strange to think that one day our successors will look back on this year as part of our College’s history much like we are now looking back at the past half century. I hope their connections to this institution will run as deep as those who have come before them.
Part of our preparation for the 50th Anniversary has involved us combing through records and inviting many visitors from the past back to our campus. I’ve had the privilege of meeting some of them and hearing their stories. Some are funny, many are touching, but all are full of pride, and for good reason.
Over the past 50 years, this organization has represented the community with distinction both locally and nationally. For example, in 2011-12 we were ranked number one nationally among two-year colleges for graduating students with Associate in Arts degrees, and in a recent survey, 83% of respondents in our community rated the quality of education at TCC as “good” or “excellent.”
What we’ve done, we will continue to do because we are proud of what’s been built here. We will continue to be demand-driven and student-centric, we will continue to maintain a high level of quality both in the way we provide education and the way we run our enterprise, and we will continue to be your college of choice.
In honor of this momentous year, I want to thank all of our community, past and present for making TCC such a special place. We would not be where we are today if it weren’t for the efforts of so many who care about the success of our institution.
Here’s to the next 50.
Jim Murdaugh, President Monday, December 14, 2015
As we approach our winter break and the end of another calendar year, I would like to take a moment to share just some of the many highlights from 2015 and express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who make this College a success each and every day.
- TCC was one of 16 colleges nationwide to be named among the 2015 Promising Places to Work in Community Colleges by the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development and “Diverse: Issues in Higher Education” magazine. This designation recognizes the College for its commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
- TCC was recognized by the Huffington Post for being ranked No. 8 in the nation among community colleges by SmartAsset.com for our high success rate, good return on investment and low cost.
- TCC was ranked among the top schools in Military Advanced Education magazine's 2015 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities. TCC was also designated a military-friendly school by Victory Media for the second consecutive year.
- TCC Model United Nations received an Honorable Delegation award and a Position Paper award at the National Model United Nations in New York City.
- TCC’s baseball and softball teams received All-Academic Team honors from the NJCAA for achieving a minimum 3.0 team GPA during the 2014-15 academic year, and five individuals earned Academic Student-Athlete Award honors from the NJCAA.
- Angela Cole and Sarah Allen were named to the 2015 All-Florida Academic Team in recognition for their outstanding academic achievement and their Phi Theta Kappa service projects.
- TCC Forensics received bronze awards in both Overall Team Sweepstakes and Individual Events Team Sweepstakes at the Phi Rho Pi junior college national tournament—the team’s 14th consecutive award in Overall Team Sweepstakes and its 16th straight Individual Events team award.
To read more about these and all our most recent honors, visit Our Accolades.
I wish I could recognize each of the hundreds of other success stories that have occurred this year thanks to the wonderful faculty and staff of this college. With that said, I just want to wish the entire TCC family a joyous holiday season. I hope you will enjoy the time with those you care about, laugh a lot, and remember that the best things in life are not things.
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, October 2, 2015
Tallahassee Community College is shocked and extremely saddened by the shooting that took place yesterday at Umpqua Community College. While their institution may be across the country, we are united by our core values. Our deepest sympathies go out to the victims, their families, and the entire Umpqua community. Please join with me in keeping them in your thoughts and prayers.
Our TCC Police Department has already taken measures to increase security on our own campuses and will be providing a strong law enforcement presence in the coming days. The safety of our students, faculty and staff is paramount and we will remain vigilant in our commitment to ensuring our community’s protection.For more information on our security measures, please visit the Chief’s Blog.
Jim Murdaugh, President Tuesday, August 25, 2015
It’s Welcome Week at Tallahassee Community College, when we
get to greet a new class of thousands of new and returning students to our
College and get excited about beginning another new academic year.
I want to thank each of our students, faculty and staff for
choosing TCC. This will be my sixteenth year employed at the College, and my
fifth year as President, and yet the enthusiasm from our campus family for what
we do here still continues to amaze me. The talent of our faculty, the
dedication of our staff and the determination of our students reminds me every
day of what makes our College so great.
I’m also proud of our community. Tallahassee is an ideal
place to learn and earn, and I have worked hard to develop our local economy so
our graduates can find employment. In my capacity as Chair of the EconomicDevelopment Council of Tallahassee/Leon County, I had the opportunity to recap
some of the progress we have made at the Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce Conference, as well as lay out my hopes for the next few years. We
have so much going on in Tallahassee and as long as we focus on what makes us
great and don’t lose the momentum we’ve been generating, I see big things in
Here at TCC, we’ve got even more on the horizon. We are
currently building two new facilities, the Gadsden Center, which will expand
our efforts in Gadsden County, and the Wakulla Environmental Institute, which
will help establish Wakulla County as a world-class ecotourism destination. And
we are also in the process of reimagining the Capitol Center to become a place
of synergy between the private and public sectors.
I am dedicated to maintaining and
expanding upon this institution’s reputation as the college of choice for
students, the employer of choice for faculty and staff and partner of choice
for the community. I work hard every day to make this happen, and I welcome
Soon we will get to announce a big project that will
solidify our commitment to be an entrepreneurship college. As of yesterday’s
District Board of Trustees meeting, we are one step closer to adding a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree which we hope to begin accepting students for this
spring. And I have also welcomed to our ranks several new team members this
year including our new Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Feleccia Moore-Davis and our new Chief Business Officer and Vice President for
Administrative Services Barbara Wills.
But perhaps most important of all, in 2016 TCC will be
celebrating our biggest milestone of all, our 50th anniversary. It
will be a time to reflect upon and commemorate our past, and start the process
of building what we want to become. I am thrilled to be leading this College on
the eve of something so special.
As we move into a new semester and a new year, I want to
reiterate my commitment to this College. I am dedicated to maintaining and
expanding upon this institution’s reputation as the college of choice for
students, the employer of choice for faculty and staff and partner of choice
for the community. I work hard every day to make this happen, and I welcome
your input. Have ideas or questions? Please feel free to join the conversation
and interact with me on my Facebook page.
With that said, best of luck to everyone this semester and
all the semesters ahead. Let’s have a great year!
Jim Murdaugh, President Thursday, July 2, 2015
With summer upon us, I have enjoyed hearing about the range of activities from exotic vacations to stay-cations that many of you have planned. I have also heard from some who haven’t yet made plans and from others who don’t intend to take any time off at all. Those latter conversations concern me.
I know how difficult it is for many of us who get our greatest satisfaction from helping others to put ourselves first. I also know that if we don’t take care of ourselves we cannot take care of others.
We all know that what we do here is important. Not only to those we serve but also to ourselves through the sense of accomplishment and joy that comes from our work. We have both the difficult challenge and rewarding privilege of changing the lives of our students and their families, as well as making an impact in our community. Like you, I am fiercely proud of what we do, but I am mindful that for us to be at our best we must take care of ourselves.
Plan to do what works best for you to refresh yourself. Some of us need significant blocks of time away. Others are at our best after short, frequent breaks. Still others have learned the benefits of daily meditation. Some of us do all of the above. Regardless of what works for any of us, we all need to figure out how to disconnect and spend time with ourselves and those we care about.
I know how difficult it is for many of us who get our greatest satisfaction from helping others to put ourselves first. I also know that if we don’t take care of ourselves we cannot take care of others.
Please take care of yourself and I look forward to seeing you in August!
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, June 24, 2015
It is my pleasure to announce that Tallahassee Community College has named Dr. Feleccia Moore-Davis as our new provost. Her selection follows a very thorough process involving the vetting of candidates by an eight-member screening committee, followed by onsite visits by all four finalists that included time for questions and answers with a number of college constituencies. Feedback from those meetings was very helpful and much appreciated.
Dr. Moore-Davis comes to TCC from Lone Star College-CyFair in Houston, where she served as vice president for instruction from 2008 to 2014. She previously worked as LSC-CyFair’s dean of business, math, communications and computer information technology.
Dr. Moore-Davis supervised strategic planning, outcomes assessments and institutional effectiveness measures, leading student success initiatives that transformed the culture of LSC-CyFair. She was the college’s chief academic officer and oversaw six instructional divisions. She also initiated a Diversity and Inclusion Council on LSC-CyFair’s campus.
We are thrilled that Dr. Moore-Davis will be joining the TCC family, and we look forward to welcoming her to campus in her new role in early August.
Be a leader worth following.
This was the theme of Leadercast, a one-day leadership conference we simulcast last week at the Ghazvini Center for Healthcare Education. That message was particularly significant for me as I reflect on where we are heading with some of the leadership changes happening at the College.
I am currently in the unprecedented situation of having to replace three members of our Executive Team in the next eight months. Theresa Smith, our Vice President for Administrative Services and Chief Financial Officer, retired last month. And Barbara Sloan, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Sally Search, our Vice President for Student Affairs, will also be retiring this year.
We are in a time of change. That does not mean we will sacrifice our ethos. It means we need to accept the challenges as they are presented and appreciate a fresh set of helping hands.
Parting is not easy, especially from those who have contributed so much to the College. Collectively, these three leaders have served at TCC for more than 50 years spanning four decades and as many presidents. They helped build who we are today. I am deeply appreciative of the legacy that are leaving behind.
But with all these changes also comes opportunity. We are presently in various stages of conducting, setting up or planning for interviews of all these positions.
Now is a time when we need to have an honest dialogue about our future.
It comes down to two questions: 1) where do we go next, and 2) what are we looking for in those who will get us there? To answer these, we must take a good look at ourselves and examine what we have done that we like and what we want to do going forward that will be different. These conversations are especially important as we approach our 50th anniversary, a time to reflect on our past as well as to our future.
To that effect, I am looking for new leaders with strong skill sets, experience that speaks for itself and a passion that will add value to our College. They must be capable of asking good questions but also be ready to work to find the answers.
I feel very strongly that anyone I hire must understand that the executives at this College are a team, not a committee, not a group. In that there is an obligation to each other as well as to the College as a whole.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, I want to see this organization embrace the possibility of a new direction. With new leaders comes new perspectives. I am relying on our existing campus community to welcome these new perspectives with an open mind. We are in a time of change. That does not mean we will sacrifice our ethos. It means we need to accept the challenges as they are presented and appreciate a fresh set of helping hands.
I hope to have a new Chief Business Officer on board by this summer, the new Provost before classes start in the fall and a new Vice President of Student Affairs by the end of the year. I hope you will join with me in helping these individuals, whoever they turn out to be, to transition into their new roles. Only together we can achieve what we could not as individuals.
Jim Murdaugh, President Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Graduation represents one of the most important times of the
year here at TCC. It also happens to be one of my personal favorites.
This is when we gather together and celebrate the successes
of our wonderful graduates, the class of 2015. It is also an opportunity to
reflect on individual accomplishments. Students, as well as the instructors who
teach them and the staff who support them, have spent the last several months
and years working steadily toward this moment. I know there’s been a lot of
homework, a lot of late nights studying for tests, a lot of hours spent
commuting to and from class.
I’ve met quite a few extraordinary individuals in the past year that I know I will miss. I always hope that the students we send off will not become strangers.
Trust me, it was well worth the effort.
That’s because graduation is not a last stop on the road, it
is just the first. With the skills and credentials TCC has given our graduates,
they will be able to take advantage of a multitude of different opportunities
after their time here. They will go on to a four-year institution or enter the
workforce to become nurses, police officers, software developers, and business
owners. And they will earn more. For every dollar students invest in themselves
at TCC, their future income is increased by about $6.50. It was for this
reason, our College was recently ranked among the top ten two-year schools in
Of course, graduation is also a little bittersweet as we say
goodbye. I’ve met quite a few extraordinary individuals in the past year that I
know I will miss. I always hope that the students we send off will not become
strangers. With the launch of our new Alumni and Friends Association, our
graduates will now have more opportunities than ever to stay in touch. Please
sign-up to become a member here.
We also have our 50th anniversary in 2016 during
which I hope all of our campus family, including alumni and friends, will take
part in a very special year-long celebration of our College.
But in the meantime, I look forward to shaking each of our
graduates’ hands and give them a heartfelt ‘congratulations.’ I know I speak
for all of my colleagues when I say that we wish them the very best in all their
Congratulations to TCC’s class of 2015!
Jim Murdaugh, President Friday, April 17, 2015 It’s been about a year and a half since our trustees
approved a measure to develop a proposal for a much-needed Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree at Tallahassee Community College, and just over
a year since a moratorium was put in place by the Florida Legislature to halt
all new degree programs in the Florida College System.
With the moratorium soon expiring, we have much hope we will
be able to proceed with our proposal and meet the needs of our regional
Until this past year, TCC has not been interested in
baccalaureate programs. With two distinguished public universities next door,
five private partner colleges and universities on our main campus and an
effective 2+2 program state-wide, we offer a robust array of transfer
opportunities for our students.
Why are we exploring a BSN program?
First of all, this BSN is not a four-year program. Rather,
it would add the two years of nursing necessary to obtain the BSN on top of the
two years of study we already offer students who obtain an Associate Degree in
Nursing in order to become a Registered Nurse.
We are demand-driven and have a responsibility to local
employers to meet their workforce needs. This effort began when Mark O’Bryant,
president and CEO of Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare (TMH), came to us
regarding the hospital’s decision to pursue “magnet” status which included moving
to a minimum of 80% of their nurses with bachelor’s degrees. I went to FSU and
FAMU to discuss this and to assure them that we had no interest in competing
with them if they could meet this need. Because they recognized they would not
be able to meet the new demand with their existing programs and had no plans
for expansion, they supported a new option at TCC.
We also have a responsibility to our alumni. The TCC nursing
graduates at both TMH and Capital Regional Medical Center (CRMC) are highly
regarded by hospital administrators. Our graduates who are employed as RNs will
have a need for additional training. If they wish to earn a BSN, they would not
be automatically accepted, and those who are would have to start over as
freshmen. Furthermore, our graduates learn and earn right here in our district
while FSU and FAMU graduates come here to attend school and often move home after
With a new BSN program, our current nursing graduates could
return to TCC, retain their credits, finish their bachelor’s degree in two
years and stay competitive in the workplace. Likewise, new students could take
advantage of our excellent facilities and pursue a career in the growing local
healthcare job market at institutions such as TMH, CRMC, Westminster Oaks or
the new VA hospital.
For these reasons, we see a BSN program at TCC as a clear fulfillment
of our College’s fundamental mission to meet regional workforce needs.
Our community partners and our educational partners both
support a new program. I want to thank Senator Bill Montford for his tireless
efforts to lift the moratorium. I also want to thank the Greater Tallahassee
Chamber of Commerce for passing a resolution of support. We are ready to move
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.
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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