Chelan-Douglas Trends e-Newsletter

5-QUESTIONS WITH: JIM RICHARDSON - CEO OF WENATCHEE VALLEY COLLEGE

Jim Richardson Photo

Q: The Wenatchee Valley College has recently adopted a new, 5-year strategic plan, based around five themes. Can you briefly describe the plan?
A
: The strategic plan focuses on the four core themes from WVC's mission: Providing educational achievement, support for learning, being responsive to local educational needs, and providing for the diversity and cultural enrichment of the college and its district. The fifth theme of the plan is centered on improving the college's stability, sustainability and transparency. Each core theme has a primary goal with specific objectives. Our faculty and staff serve on core theme councils where they plan, develop and accomplish specific projects to meet the objectives outlined in the strategic plan.

Q: How will the College measure the plan's success?
A
: We assess the success of our mission, core themes and strategic plan in several ways. Annually, the college produces a report on mission fulfillment and progress toward meeting set indicators of success. As we improve and accomplish the goals and objectives, those indicators should reflect the progress WVC makes toward meeting the strategic plan. In addition, the aforementioned core theme councils build projects and programs around the plan, monitor progress and complete goals. Other measures, both internal and external, will reflect the college's progress. Some of the Chelan-Douglas Trends indicators for the college, its service district and the regional economy should eventually reflect the progress we are making to meet our mission, core themes and strategic plan.

Q: You have been involved in the Chelan Douglas Trends project nearly from the beginning. Which indicators are the most important to the College?
A
: The indicators related to education are of prime importance to the college. Those include education items that are not necessarily specific to WVC. Indicators on where and how students are coming to WVC and where students go after leaving the college are very important. In addition, WVC needs to be fully aware of its community's economic and cultural needs. The college needs to adapt to changes in the demographics, culture, economy and security of its community. The

indicators in Chelan-Douglas Trends provide an important primary source for the college to document and track changes. The data helps inform the decisions we make to support the community.

Q: Looking at the Trends more broadly and even personally, are there any indicators that have given you an "aha!" moment?
A
: The indicator related to educational attainment, and specifically those that have baccalaureate or graduate degrees, stand out. When coupled with the economic activity and labor force indicators, it becomes abundantly clear that there is a real need for baccalaureate and graduate degrees to meet the economic and social future of the community. This "aha" moment led WVC to develop and offer bachelor of applied science degrees (BAS). Last academic year, WVC launched its first two BAS degree programs, a Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) and a Bachelor of Applied Science in Engineering Technology. WVC is actively working to offer more BAS programs in the near future. All of these BAS programs will be aimed at meeting community needs based on data from sources like Chelan-Douglas Trends. Having access to these data helps the college make informed choices about educational offerings for its communities.

Q: Data-driven decision-making has become a buzzword in many communities over the past decade. You've been here now over a decade. Have you noticed greater attention paid to this kind of information in the greater Wenatchee area?
A
: This is more than a buzzword. It marks a significant change of culture that is happening worldwide and in our community. Data continues to grow in its importance to decision making in our area. A great example of this is the Wenatchee Valley's Our Valley, Our Future initiative. The data collected for the initiative has affected programs in our community. Its data influenced WVC's own strategic plan. Tracking and measuring data is key to maintaining progress and achieving success on the more than 150 projects and programs the initiative works with. As WVC is an active partner with Our Valley, Our Future, Chelan-Douglas Trends and other initiatives in the community, data-driven decision-making will continue to inform its decisions and will lead to improving the quality of life in our valley.