RIO GRANDE — The fall 2016 semester at the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College kicked off last week with the start of classes.
To help prepare the faculty for the new year, Rio invited author and President Emeritus of the Appalachian College Association Dr. Alice Brown to campus for a plenary address, discussing new ways to continue thriving as a small college in Appalachia as part of the institution’s Faculty Development Days.
President Dr. Michelle Johnston said these days are essential for finding new and improved ways to continue making Rio a learner-centered environment for students to receive the highest-quality education while enrolled.
“The tremendous opportunity that we have as a faculty and a campus to come together and share ideas should never be taken for granted,” Johnston said. “Our work is so important in the lives of our students and we don’t take that lightly. Dr. Brown challenged us to think about new ways to achieve our mission and to secure a thriving future. The possibilities are endless.”
Brown was president of the Appalachian College Association from 1993 to 2008, where she worked to develop new ideas and procedures to help college faculty across Appalachia strengthen student experiences in higher-education classrooms. Her presentation, “Moving from Struggling to Thriving: Small Private Colleges in Appalachia in the 21st Century,” outlines innovative ideas to create and maintain strong, stable Appalachian institutions and propel enrollment and retention numbers.
Some points from her address included developing teamwork in leadership rolls between students, faculty and staff, collaborating with area public schools, and being adaptable to create the best learning environment.
Kay Ervin, vice chair of the University of Rio Grande Board of Trustees, had the chance to speak with Dr. Brown and said she is glad Rio is always excited to make changes to advance the university.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to speak with Dr. Brown. Her work has had a significant impact on higher education in the Appalachian region,” she said. “During our discussion, Dr. Brown emphasized that reluctance to change is the greatest impediment to long-term success, and that we must be open and excited about change in order to ensure the long-term viability and success of our university. As a trustee, I’m excited with the direction we are moving.”
The Appalachian College Association was founded in 1979 and became an independent organization in 1990. The association’s mission is to strengthen faculty in the region by helping them stay current in subject matter and research, giving academic study based research opportunities to students, and encouraging institutions to work with and serve their communities.
The association assists small colleges from Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, serving a total of more than 54,000 students in Appalachia.