Thomas Nelson Community College’s Ian Taylor has been appointed to a new post-pandemic task force established by Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS). Taylor, an economics department faculty and chair of a VCCS Economics Peer Group, is among 16 task force participants.
The task force will examine and propose changes in how community colleges operate to meet the needs of Virginia students and businesses in a post-pandemic “new normal.” The task force has until May 15 to offer recommendations for the fall 2020 semester and until Aug. 15 to recommend longer-term changes, explained DuBois in an April 14 announcement.
Taylor is “flattered on being chosen,” and hopes to offer distinct viewpoints. An educator of 11 years, he recently served as a lead writer for Transfer Virginia, a VCCS initiative for redesigning course content to guarantee transfer from the state’s 23 community colleges to public four-year schools in the Commonwealth. He also brings experience from the business community having founded and sold “start-ups” including a software company and a courier service. He looks forward to sharing his diverse knowledge.
“I will do my best to improve our students' experience, and represent Thomas Nelson. I believe I will bring unique perspectives as an economist, entrepreneur, and, of course, faculty member,” he said. “My background in start-ups and programming will greatly benefit my contributions to this task force. There are tremendous opportunities in integrating with Canvas (our learning management system) to automate improvements for our students’ educational experience.
“Economics is the study of how humans make choices due to scarcity. The instructional options for our students are already limited due to this pandemic. The importance of the decisions we make to maximize our students' success during this duress will only increase as we enter into an economic recession,” added Taylor, who was recommended for the task force by Thomas Nelson’s Interim President Dr. Greg DeCinque.
DeCinque is confident Taylor is a good fit for the role.
“I had the opportunity to meet Ian shortly after I started at (Thomas Nelson). During our discussion, it quickly became apparent that Ian represented a new approach to teaching and learning. His knowledge of how to use technology to enhance and support student learning was evident,” he said. “As I spoke with others after that meeting, they reinforced my impression that Ian represented a new kind of faculty and a new delivery system that had the potential to change current models and improve student success.”
DeCinque believes Taylor’s participation on the task force is beneficial because it “gives Thomas Nelson a seat at the table and an opportunity for input.”
“We are fortunate to have Ian Taylor represent us during this critical time,” DeCinque added.
Susan English, vice president for Academic Affairs at Thomas Nelson, mirrored that sentiment calling the task force’s charge “important work.”
“Ian is a very student-centered and innovative thinker and will be a true asset to this task force. We look forward to the creative ‘new-normal’ opportunities this task force will put forward,” she stated in an announcement to the College.
Taylor, who holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Longwood University and a master’s in economics Old Dominion University, is energized by the opportunity. He became a full-time Thomas Nelson faculty member in 2015 after joining as an adjunct in 2009 while also teaching part time at ODU, Tidewater and Northern Virginia community colleges. He sees participation on the task force as a means of putting Thomas Nelson at the forefront of VCCS innovation during and beyond the pandemic.
“My hope is to not just brainstorm ideas, but provide a plan to execute our guidance throughout the VCCS. I truly believe we have an opportunity to improve our students' experience in the VCCS even during this pandemic,” he said.
In announcing formation of the task force last week, the chancellor said it will address many important questions.
“What do we need to be, and to do, to help those who have lost their jobs retrain for their next career? What about university-bound students having second thoughts because of health concerns or changing family finances? What about the families in rural Virginia who lack convenient high-speed Internet service? These circumstances demand a hard look at how we on-board students, the services we provide for them, and how we schedule our courses and programs,” DuBois said.
Lead by co-chairs Sharon Morrissey, VCCS senior vice chancellor for Academic and Workforce Programs, and Anne Kress, president of Northern Virginia Community College, the panel also is tasked to explore planning for an uncertain future; understand how remote teaching and support services affect equity, student expectations, enrollment choices, and academic success; and continue hands-on practical training in a time of social distancing.
In addition to Morrissey, Kress and Taylor, task force members are:
Tom Canupp Danville Community College
Cynthia Deutsch Central Virginia Community College
Dale Dulaney Virginia Western Community College
Michelle Edmonds Southside Virginia Community College
Shashuna Gray Germanna Community College
Joe Hagy Dabney S. Lancaster Community College
Adam Hutchison Virginia Highlands Community College President
Perry Hughes Wytheville Community College
Quentin Johnson Southside Virginia Community College President
Chris Lee College of William & Mary
Corry McRae Tidewater Community College
Terricita Sass Reynolds Community College
Fred Taylor John Tyler Community College
DuBois said support staff from the VCCS system office and professional subject-matter peer groups that include faculty and staff from Virginia’s 23 community colleges will supplement the task force’s work.