I arrived at the Vermont State College system in 1978 as assistant to the Chancellor and was immediately appointed as the liaison between the system office and the president of the Community College of Vermont (CCV). As I recall, the president of CCV at the time of my arrival only lasted about nine months before resigning. When that happened, the Chancellor, Dr. Richard Bjork, directed me to develop and propose to him a new organizational structure for CCV. I was told that the reason he asked me to do it was because he thought I was the person in his office with the best understanding of the college given my liaison responsibilities. I had the weekend to accomplish the task. While developing the proposed administrative structure, I created a position for myself entitled Dean of Administrative Services because I was anxious to grow in my new career. The structure I proposed included the position of president but Chancellor Bjork downgraded it to Dean and thus “my” position to Director. Myrna Miller, who already worked for CCV was appointed Dean of the College; she and I came to our new positions at the same time in 1979.
It was an exciting time in the history of the institution as it was in transition from being a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education) funded idea of Peter Smith and others to a recognized funding obligation of the State. The original dream for CCV was a desire to create a community college without walls utilizing existing storefront locations for offices and high schools and other similar spaces for classrooms. Continued state funding for the college was at risk for a variety of reasons so one of the first tasks was to secure support from members of the legislature. Part of that effort was a for me to visit, in their home or place of work, those members of the legislature who were in a position to influence the final decision on funding. I often think back on those visits and think how strange it must have been for the legislators to be visited by a young man from New Jersey talking to them about an institution that they probably knew better than I did. Nonetheless, the effort was successful and a line item appropriation for CCV began to regularly appear in the funding allocated for the Vermont State College system.
Much of my work in the next two years centered on bringing more order and structure to the operation. Policies and procedures were developed and catalogued and various processes were improved. I remember a lot of attention being paid to improving the quality of offerings and the experience for students. We also had to focus on increasing enrollments and launched an aggressive public relations plan that included the development of a musical jingle that could be used on radio stations around the state to announce registration periods. All of our efforts on this task proved to be very effective as enrollments began to soar.
My time at CCV was relatively brief but I have very pleasant memories of it not the least of which is a staff retreat we held one year in St. Albans at a lakeside camp owned by the parents of one of our site directors. Anyone reading this missive who was there for that event is probably smiling right now while thinking about it.
I left CCV in the fall of 1981 to take the position of Director of Administration at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities in Washington D.C and am pleased to know that thirty-two years later, CCV continues to thrive.
Rick Hurley, President, Mary Washington University
Formally Office of the Chancellor, Vermont State Colleges