ESCC emerges anew from state reboot

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Ryan Webb, clockwise from top right, teaches a senior career tech support class at Eastern Shore Community College on Tuesday with Gloriadine Ashby, Annie Mears, and Vinson Mears. The college has increased revenues, cut expenses, and made progress on sustainability factors.

BY CAROL VAUGHN

Eastern Shore Community College has had its “reboot” status lifted after the state chancellor said the Melfa college showed progress in addressing certain challenges identified in 2018.

The Virginia Community College System assesses each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges annually on four sustainability factors: a minimum service region population of 100,000; a minimum number of 500 full-time equivalent enrollment in academic programs; operating costs no greater than 125% of the system average; and the trend of issuing credentials in workforce programs, according to ESCC President Jim Shaeffer..

ESCC in 2018 was deemed to have failed to meet the established threshold for all four factors.

That triggered a more detailed assessment of the college, which has the smallest enrollment of any community college in the state system, followed by a three-year improvement, or reboot, period.

Shaeffer received a letter from the VCCS chancellor Sept. 12 saying “the results of sustainability analysis presented to the State Board for Community Colleges at the May 2022 meeting showed evidence of progress in addressing the challenges identified,” according to a press release.

Since the meeting, data showed the college is currently meeting one of the four thresholds, resulting in the chancellor lifting the reboot status.

“This was accomplished through the hard work and dedication of our outstanding faculty and staff at your Eastern Shore Community College,” said Shaeffer. 

“With the lifting of the reboot, ESCC is now focused on meeting our vision of being the national model of a college serving a rural community through diverse programming that leads to better lives and a better Shore,” he said. 

The three-year “reboot” plan was announced in 2019, with the goal being to re-establish the college as “a viable and sustainable college that responds to the unmet educational and training needs of the Shore,” according to a state presentation at the time.

The college in May 2019 announced 12 administrative positions were being eliminated and three new positions were being created as part of the process.

One position was a Workforce and Business Solutions Officer, which Brian Scott Hall was hired to fill.

The other two new positions were in student services.

The official reboot period ended in July, after which the college was again assessed, using VCCS thresholds for the four factors, and was deemed to have made progress, including meeting one of the four thresholds.

“With hard work and the support of the community, ESCC has increased workforce and academic enrollments,” according to the release.

Additionally, the college changed its business model and stabilized finances, bringing in more revenue and lowering expenses.

If the college had not met the thresholds, the VCCS board would have gone on to a more detailed assessment to determine whether ESCC should be consolidated with another Virginia community college.

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