All posts by president

News & Notes #11

On most campuses summer is a quiet season, a time for reflection and catching one’s collective breath.  This is much less true at Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.  With over 400 students taking courses to either get ahead in their studies or get back on track, hosting the Summer Field Ecology Governor’s School, or high school teachers earning continuing education credits through our Summer Teacher Institute, summer at DSLCC is a busy period.  In addition, we are gearing up for the fall start with new programs and new faculty and staff, which is always an exciting time.

My update is to provide you with an end-of-the-year summary from campus.  It is hard to believe that I am concluding my second year since I assumed the presidency of DSLCC.  These months have been a busy, exciting time for me and my family as we are now fully entrenched in Virginia and continue to appreciate the southern hospitality of everyone we meet.

A good part of my job is telling our story and I remain surprised that aspects of that story are not well known as they should be in our local community.  Let me offer some examples:

  • Many people do not realize that our Forest Management Technology program is the only two-year associate degree in Virginia that is accredited by the Society of American Foresters (SAF). In addition, Virginia Living’s State of Education recognized the Forestry program in their Top High Schools & Colleges under the Science, Math & Technology category.
  • Registered Nursing student Nikki Wilson scored at the 99.86 percentile rank on the national HESI Assessment, the Top Nursing Score in the Country. This test is taken by more than 35,000 nursing students across the country from all types of RN programs. This is a reflection of the quality and rigor of both our Practical Nursing and Nursing (Associate Degree) programs.
  • Jeanette S. Mann, Director of the DSLCC Emergency Medical Services Program, received the 2014 Western Virginia EMS Council Regional Award for Outstanding Pre-hospital Educator. In addition, the DSLCC Emergency Medical Services Advisory Committee has been selected to receive the 2014/2015 Virginia Career and Technical Education Creating Excellence Award for CTE Community College Advisory Committee.
  • DSLCC has been recognized as “Business of the Year” by the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism. Furthermore, DSLCC was a finalist for “Business of the Year” by the Lexington, Buena Vista & Rockbridge County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Gloria Lawrence, Program Head of our Massage Therapy program, continues to add to her credentials, such as recognition for her efforts related to oncology massage, and her service on national boards to continually raise standards for massage therapy practitioners and training providers.
  • The Aspen Institute named DSLCC one of the top 150 community colleges out of more than 1,100 two-year colleges nationwide focusing on areas of completion, equity, learning, and how well our graduates do in the labor market.

I could go on at length, talking about assistant professor Tina Hawley for her acceptance by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing to become a program evaluator or that Student Activities Coordinator Cynthia Boteler was selected for Distinguished Educator award from the Black Concern Commission, an honor which celebrates individuals who have made a profound difference in the lives of minority students through life-time service, leadership, teaching and overall dedication to the BCC mission, or yours truly appointed to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commission on Communications and Marketing, or…well, you get the point.

DSLCC is a very good institution and that word is getting out. I am very proud of the progress over the past two years and in particular, this past academic year. As I have described in previous writings, my first year was to listen – and through a number of various community and college activities – I was able to help shape the short- and long-term goals. Let me walk you through key areas of the year just ended:

  • The Local Board approved our new strategic planPathways 2021 – for DSLCC in June. It will be our roadmap to guide allocation of resources and decision-making. The focus is on success-for students, employees, and the community.
  • After going almost four years with declining enrollments, we had the largest increase in overall headcount enrollment from last spring of all 23 Virginia Community Colleges and the second highest increase in student FTE (full-time-equivalent equal is 15 credits) count.  The overall headcount growth is 4.64 percent while the 3.81 percent increase in FTE places DSLCC just behind Southwest Virginia Community College.   In addition, DSLCC has the largest growth in both FTE and Headcount in Dual Enrollment.  The overall FTE growth is up 62.96 percent while the headcount growth is up 48.33 percent.
  • Our numbers for this summer include a 26% increase in headcount and an increase of 18% in FTE. That once again ranks us at the top of the System. Early indicators such as course registrations and planned new dual enrollment courses suggest a similarly strong performance for the year ahead.
  • Another indicator of improved enrollment is the work completed this past semester on student tracking sheets for academic programs. A team of individuals completed an audit of all academic programs and made the necessary adjustments of prerequisite courses and proper course sequencing. All of this will provide clearer a pathway to completion and retention. As an additional method to improve a student’s experience at DSLCC, we offered smaller class sizes for more personal attention as well as offered 24/7 Tutoring Services for students.
  • I am pleased that we added new academic programs – Electrical & Instrumentation, Sustainable Agriculture, and Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning, and Refrigeration (HVACR) – all programs addressing the needs of our service area. In addition, a new Licensed Practical Nursing to Registered Nursing (LPN-RN) transition course was developed and approved as well as a new pathway for Jackson River Governor’s School students interested in completing an associate degree while still in high school. Discussions continue with our community partners to look at more new courses and programs. As workforce needs change, we must adapt as well.
  • Our partnerships with our high school divisions strengthened immensely this past year by offering greater options in dual enrollment, addressing college readiness, and by placing Career Coaches in three of our high schools. Coaches help students to transition to work, attend a college/university, enlist in U.S. military service, and pursue industry certification training, in addition to providing specialized expertise regarding community college opportunities. We are working on plans to bring the Career Coach program to all of our high schools in the very near future.
  • I was pleased to open a Veteran’s Center on the Clifton Forge campus in November. We hope this Center will turn into a sort of community veterans space for our veterans to connect and engage in activities of fellowship and support with one another. In addition, DSLCC was named a 2015 Military Friendly School for the sixth consecutive year.
  • We were also pleased to host Dr. Glenn Dubois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System as well as VA Secretary of Commerce and Trade Maurice Jones to campus in May as a host of one of the Chancellor’s Town Hall Meetings throughout the Commonwealth.

These are just a few of the many accomplishments during the past year.  Much of this success would not have been possible without an incredible team of people who have given fully and tirelessly to this College. It takes a lot of talented people to run a College like ours.  So to our faculty and staff, I thank you all for being the soul of our institution.  Thank you for your steadfast commitment to serving our students both inside and outside of the classroom.

Finally, in order for us to realize our goals we will need the help of the entire college and business community.  Tell the DSLCC story.  People involved in the community describe DSLCC as a “place on the move.”  There’s much to be proud about and the story is getting better every day, yet too many people know too little of us.  When you tell the DSLCC story, you help us recruit students, to place graduates with employers, and to convince donors of our worthiness.

Again, enjoy the summer and have a happy, healthy and safe July 4th holiday weekend.  We want to see everyone on the Clifton Forge campus or the Rockbridge Regional Center this Fall!


John J. Rainone, Ed.D.





News & Notes #10

Spring has sprung and many great things are happening at DSLCC.  With new programs, new partnerships, and many more opportunities for residents to access the wonderful offerings, DSLCC is on the move.   I hope you enjoy the next edition of News & Notes.

April is National Community College Month

DSLCC is proud to celebrate April as National Community College Month! Community College Month commemorates the contributions community colleges have made across the country in educating and training students for the future. In honor of Community College Month, here are my Top 10 Things to Know about DSLCC and Our Students.

  1. We are close to home. Our classes are offered at convenient times for our students. Day, evening, weekends, and online classes provide many options for a student to attend on a full-time or a part-time basis.
  2. We are saving money on higher education. DSLCC and the other VA Community Colleges are the most affordable higher education institution in Virginia, offering the lowest tuition.
  3. We have top-rate faculty. Our classes are taught by faculty who care about student learning. They are fully committed to teaching, are accessible, and have the highest educational and professional experience credentials.
  4. We are fully accredited. DSLCC and all community colleges are accredited by the same agencies that accredit major universities.  In addition, many of our programs are recognized by an industry accreditation.
  5. We have small classes. Class sizes at DSLCC are much smaller than those found at public universities.   Our average class size is less than 15 students which allows more opportunities for students to interact with teachers and other students.
  6. We prepare students to enter the workforce. DSLCC offers many career-related programs including high demand fields like forestry, criminal justice, nursing, welding, culinary arts, and more. A college credential will always give you an edge.
  7. We prepare students to transfer. DSLCC also offers courses that transfer into universities toward a bachelor’s degree, saving time and money. We have 51 guaranteed admission agreements with four-year institutions for students to transfer, some by program only and others by institution.
  8. We offer great support services. DSLCC offers a variety of services to help students succeed in their coursework. Services such as advising, tutoring (including services online) as well as a writing center, financial aid, student activities, a Veterans center, and library services, to name a few.
  9. We are in the top 10 percent of community colleges in the U.S.  In a 2014 ranking by the Aspen Institute, DSLCC was among the nation’s top 150 best community colleges.
  10. We have great alumni. Former DSLCC students are now doctors, professors, bankers, nurses, teachers, chefs, small business owners, community leaders, politicians, health care leaders, and college administrators, to name a few. Nationally known individuals such as actor Tom Hanks, baseball great Nolan Ryan, pioneer Walt Disney, and astronaut Fred Haise all started at a community college.

Highest Enrollment Increase in VCCS for Spring Semester

I am pleased to share that as of April 14, DSLCC has the largest increase in overall headcount enrollment from last spring of all 23 community colleges and the second highest increase in student FTE count.  The overall headcount growth is 4.64 percent while the 3.81 percent increase in FTE places DSLCC just behind Southwest Virginia Community College.   In addition, DSLCC has the largest growth in both FTE and Headcount in Dual Enrollment.  The overall FTE growth is up 62.96 percent while the headcount growth is up 48.33 percent.

Delegate Austin to Serve as Commencement Speaker

Delegate Terry Austin, Virginia’s 19th District representative in the General Assembly, will deliver the address at the forty-eighth annual commencement exercises for Dabney S. Lancaster Community College on Friday, May 15.  I am honored to have Delegate Austin as our commencement speaker.  Over the past two years, I have worked with Delegate Austin on a couple of projects and he is a representative who works diligently toward the improvement of programs, services and infrastructure of this region.  Delegate Austin has been an outstanding friend of the College and supporter of our efforts to move the institution forward.

Delegate Austin attended a community college and established a successful local business, two things I think our graduates will be most interested in hearing about during his address.

Great Culinary Day at The Omni Homestead


DSLCC was once again happy to co-host Culinary Day at the Omni Homestead on March 19.  Over 175 students from seven high schools participated and learned about the culinary arts and hospitality fields as well as participated in demonstrations and received a tour of the Omni Homestead kitchens.  Chef Phil McManus, Program Head of Culinary Arts, participated in the event.  Thanks to Chef Phil, Lynn McAllister, and Gail Johnson for your coordination efforts.

New Programs Approved

I am pleased to announce at the recent Local Board meeting in March, two new academic programs were approved. The first is a Career Studies Certificate in Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration. This is a workforce certificate and will be offered in the Rockbridge area at Rockbridge County High School. The second program is an Associate of Applied Science Technical Studies degree in Electrical and Instrumentation Technology. This program has been forwarded to the State Board for Community Colleges for consideration at their May meeting. Once again, these programs address the changing employer needs in our region. Thanks to Gary Keener for his role in moving these programs forward.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #9

The New Year has brought exciting happenings and there continues to be exciting news from our region. Since my last communication, I am pleased that many initiatives are moving forward that serve DSLCC students and community.  Our new website development is on target for an April 1 launch and our new Strategic Plan is progressing very well.  We are also continuing discussions with our school divisions to better serve them and their students in the areas of dual enrollment and college-prep.

A number of people including the media have asked me recently about my thoughts about President Obama’s “America’s College Promise” or free community college for students who attend at least half-time and maintain a 2.5 GPA. Honestly, without knowing all of the nuances outlined in the plan, it is hard to speculate.  However, we know we live in a “knowledge” economy and research shows that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. Since finances is the still the number one reason why students either do not attend college or drop-out, any program that can help these students achieve a postsecondary education is one of which I am a strong proponent.

As a reminder, if you would like for me to include additional information, do not hesitate to contact me. If you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post.  Enjoy!

DSLCC Visits the General Assembly

I was delighted to once again bring DSLCC students to Richmond while our General Assembly is in session.  Through the leadership of VCCS Chancellor DuBois, each community college visits twice each Spring to meet the delegates who represent our area.  It is critically important that we thank our representatives for their service and share with them the issues that are important for higher education and what local community college funding does for this region.  The visits also show our students a little more about how the system works and may even encourage them to consider public service at some point on their career pathway.  Thank you to Delegates Ben Cline and Terry Austin and Senators Creigh Deeds and Emmett Hanger for your hospitality.


I especially want to thank the following individuals who were able to join me:

DSLCC Students: Hannah Bradley, Mahaley Reyns, Brandon George, Austin Gibson, Lisa Tucker, Anthony Green, Elijah Weikel, and Darryl Tolson

DSLCC Faculty and Staff: Kathy Smestad, Dr. Steve Nicholson, Tamra Lipscomb, Joe Walker, and Tondalaya VanLear

New Sustainable Agriculture Program Approved

I am pleased to announce the DSLCC Local Board has approved a new Career Studies Certificate in Basic Sustainable Agriculture. I want to thank DSLCC’s own Lynn McAllister, Doug Jones, and Gail Johnson and many community individuals who moved this program along in the process.  The first courses are scheduled for fall 2015 and will be available on the Clifton Forge campus and at the Rockbridge Regional Center.

DSLCC Co-Sponsors an Open House in Eagle Rock

A very successful Open House was held on January 18 in Eagle Rock.  Partnering with the Ruritans, the event was held to showcase the newly renovated Community Center on Church Street in Eagle Rock and highlight the fact that the College is very willing and anxious to expand our offerings throughout northern Botetourt County to more fully serve the residents of that portion of our service area.  The DSLCC Educational Foundation office coordinated the event with Ruritan leaders.  Thanks to all who attended!

DSLCC Team Visits IALR


I was pleased to be part of a team who visited the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research (IALR) in Danville. The team from DSLCC included Lynn McAllister, Gail Johnson, Doug Jones and as well as two community members, Michael Van Ness from Lynchburg Grows and organic farm owner Don Henke.  The purpose of our visit was to explore the new research areas in agriculture and horticulture. In partnership with Virginia Tech, the Center serves as a regional catalyst for economic transformation. The core focus areas include research that provides a clear path to commercialization, advanced learning opportunities where education meets experience, and economic development. The Center also offers college programs related to STEM-H for PreK-12 students as well as college internship opportunities.

DSLCC Library News

The Library reports great success with our new Writing Center.  More and more students are using services to improve their writing skills which will be invaluable as they continue their education and enter or advance in employment. Thanks to Samantha Hale for her leadership with this initiative.

Library staff also reports the increased use of the DSLCC Library by high school students.  We welcome them and hope that this pattern will continue.

MWV and DSLCC Partnership

I was honored to attend the graduation luncheon at MeadWestvaco to help congratulate those who completed the MWV Dual Craft program.  This partnership with DSLCC allows these important members of the MWV team to complete an apprenticeship training program in the areas of Instrumentation and Electrical. This is an outstanding example of the kind of skill sets and knowledge needed by employees who want to succeed and advance in manufacturing environment. Please help me thank Robin Jennings and Gary Keener for your work and leadership and being a wonderful partner with MWV.

Kudos and Events

Congratulations to Ms. Tina Hawley MSN, RN for her acceptance by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing to become a program evaluator.

Please note on your calendar that DSLCC will host Community Family Fun Day on Saturday, April 25!  Come out any time between 12 noon and 3 pm.  Everyone welcome at no fee to participate.  Bring a picnic basket or purchase food items that will be available from several vendors. Call 863-2831 for more information.

Two Job Fairs are scheduled on Tuesday, March 17 at the Rockbridge Regional Center and on Wednesday, March 18 in the Armory on the Clifton Forge campus.  We are pleased to partner with Goodwill Industries and the Lexington, Rockbridge, Buena Vista Chamber of Commerce to hold these fairs.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at Thank you!

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News & Notes #8

Welcome to the next edition of News & Notes. Many exciting things are happening on campus and in our communities this Fall and I outline a few of them below.  My travels have taken me to Washington, DC three times for various purposes including speaking at the annual conference of the Council for Resource Development and attending the Commission meeting for Marketing & Communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.  These visits provide me an opportunity to meet with national leaders in the community college movement to discuss new opportunities for DSLCC.

As a reminder, if you would like for me to include additional information, do not hesitate to contact me. If you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post.  Enjoy!

Veterans Office Established on Campus

DSLCC is very happy to report that we have established a Veterans Office on the main campus. From a grant written by Director of Financial Aid, Joy Broyles, the funds from the Veterans Administration allowed us to hire two VA work-study students to staff the office.   These work-study students are tasked with assisting active duty military, veterans, and those receiving military benefits for their educational, personal, and professional pursuits. These students will be working approximately 25 hours per week and funding is expected to continue indefinitely. Accessing and utilizing military benefits can seem daunting and this allows DSLCC to provide a more intense level of service to those who have served us. The office in located in the Armory and this project is in partnership with the Veterans Administration (funding), the Army National Guard (donated the office space), and DSLCC (who secured funding and is providing oversight). We hope this will turn into a sort of community veterans space and will provide a place for our veterans to connect and engage in activities of fellowship and support with one another.

As a major effort by the Chancellor and State Board for Community Colleges, establishing a Veterans Office on campus was in DSLCC’s Expanding Veterans Services plan that was approved by the Chancellor in November 2013.  The VCCS is dedicated to providing those who serve with the opportunity to access the resources and training they need to succeed at home.

Please help me welcome students, Becki Hise and Eric Thompson as our two work-study students assigned to the Veterans Office.

Community College Completion Program Planned

DSLCC and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the two-year honor society on campus, are working together to bring a national movement to the attention of our students, faculty and staff—the completion of community college programs for every student.  Members of PTK—the Community College Completion Corps—will be spearheading efforts at DSLCC.  The goal is to raise awareness of the importance of college completion, as a way to remain on a pathway of career success and personal fulfillment. Throughout the nation, PTK chapters are hosting Signing Days on which all students, faculty and staff can become involved and demonstrate a commitment to excellence and success.

I am asking that each member of the DSLCC team join me in supporting our students in their effort to create a better future for themselves, their families and our community.  You can be a part of each student’s success story by signing your own pledge.  This will serve as a commitment to do your part to create an atmosphere that facilitates program completion for each and every student who enrolls at DSLCC.

On Tuesday, November 18, from 10:45am to 12:30pm at the DSLCC Rockbridge Regional Center in Buena Vista and on Thursday, November 20, from 10:30am to 1:00pm in Moomaw Center on the DSLCC Clifton Forge campus students will gather to sign the completion pledge.  Join in this Signing!

Pledge cards are available and can be turned in to the DSLCC PTK advisors, Kathy Smestad in the President’s Office, Kathy Nicely in room 309 in Scott Hall, or Ralph Sass, room 314 in Scott Hall.  If you need further information, or have any questions, please contact our PTK advisors.

Thank you for your continued support and all you do to foster a strong learning environment for all of our students.

Strategic Planning Committee Formed

Under the leadership of Dr. Chris Orem, Director of Institutional Effectiveness, the DSLCC Strategic Planning Committee has been formed.  Their work will produce a new 3-5 year Strategic Plan for DSLCC that will be in effect beginning in July 2015.  The process will be inclusive with input from the campus community as well as alumni, donors, business and community leaders, and our Local Board and Educational Foundation.

I would like to thank the members of Committee:

Dr. Chris Orem, Chair
Mr. Steve Douty, Local Board Vice Chair
Mr. Ed Kenny, Facilities Engineer
Mr. Joe Hagy, Dual Enrollment Coordinator
Ms. Penny Fauber, Associate Professor
Student – TBD
Adjunct Faculty – TBD

Please be on the lookout for opportunities to participate in this important process for the College’s future.

Holiday Parades Scheduled 

Under the leadership of the Community Outreach Committee, the following community holiday parades are planned for DSLCC’s participation:

December 4 – Buena Vista – 6:00pm
December 5 – Lexington – 5:45pm
December 5 – Clifton Forge – 6:00pm
December 6 – Covington – 6:00pm
December 13 – Iron Gate – 1:00pm
December 13 – Buchanan – 4:00pm
December 20 – Hot Springs – 2:00pm

If you are interested in participating in one or more of the parades or can assist with the setup, please contact Billy Ould, Ted Wiseman, or Melissa Unroe. 

PN Students Raise Funds for Charity

Congratulations to the DSLCC Practical Nursing students who raised money for the Rockbridge County Walk, benefiting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) in October. Led by Penny Fauber, Director of the PN Program, the Team raised $580.00 for the cause and ranked third as a fundraising team.  This is a wonderful example of community outreach and a great way for students to show their College spirit.

DSLCC to Offer EMS Training at Greenfield Center

I am pleased to announce that DSLCC will offer an evening Emergency Medical Services (EMS) training in the Spring Semester at the Greenfield Education and Training Center in Daleville. This is first time DSLCC will be offering a full academic program in Botetourt county.  This will result in greater convenience for many who wish to take advantage of this quality program close to home and work.

Please help commend the work of EMS Program Head Jeanette Mann and Vice President Gary Keener for their efforts to make this a reality. 

Nursing Pathway Begins in January

Karen Persinger, Interim Program Head of Nursing, received word that DSLCC has been approved to offer a transition pathway course. Beginning in January, 2015, practical nurses who hold a current Virginia license and have at least one year of experience as an LPN, may seek admission into this course to prepare to sit for the NCLEX-RN.  This is a wonderful addition to our healthcare program options.  Thanks to everyone who worked to prepare for this program.  We look forward to welcoming the first group of 10 individuals who will be on campus in January!  Contact for this course is Michelle Wallace, Assistant Professor.

Diversity Task Force Formed

I am pleased to announce that DSLCC’s Task Force on Diversity has been established. Our campus Task Force was created in response to a VCCS initiative when, in the summer of 2013, Chancellor Glenn DuBois created the Chancellor’s Diversity Task Force, charged with identifying strategies, actions, programs, and policies that will enable Virginia’s Community Colleges to build inclusive and representative communities.

Under the leadership of Human Resources Director, April Tolley, the DSLCC Task Force will build a plan to include tangible strategies designed to result in desired outcomes linked to the strategic goals of the system and the College. Their recommendations are also aimed at increasing the demographic diversity of DSLCC.

I would like to recognize and thank the following individuals as members of the Committee:

Ms. April Tolley, Chair
Carlisa Essex, Learner Engagement Specialist
Dr. Tobias Philbin, Adjunct Faculty
Ms. Tina Dressler, Associate Professor
Ms. Cynthia Boteler, Students Activities Coordinator
Local Board Member – TBD
Student – TBD
Staff – TBD

Kudos to the Practical Nursing Graduates!

Congratulations are in order to Penny Fauber, Program Head and Gloria Smitka, Associate Professor for the performance of their May graduates. They reported a 100% pass rate on the NCLEX-PN.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at Thank you!

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News & Notes #7

After another wonderful beginning of a new school year, I thought I would provide my next installment of News & Notes. I would like to commend all faculty and staff for a great start and for the teamwork demonstrated in all areas of the College.  DSLCC has the most dedicated employees, anywhere.

Inaugural Week

Today begins Inaugural Week and preparing for an Inauguration is an exciting time, but it is so much more. It is a ceremonial passage – a time to celebrate the history and traditions of the College – and to anticipate a wonderful future for Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

The Inauguration on Friday, September 19 is not about any one individual. It is about the continuum in the life of an exemplary place of learning. We celebrate the past 52 years while also looking forward to the next 50 years and beyond.

I thank all the volunteers who participated in the planning of the events for this week. For a list of events, please click here.

DSLCC Student Named to SCHEV Committee

I am pleased to announce the appointment of DSLCC student Lisa Colwill to the 2014-15 State Council for Higher Education for Virginia Student Advisory Committee (SAC). Four students were selected to represent the Virginia Community College System on issues of concern to students in higher education across the Commonwealth. Lisa is an honor student and leader on campus with Student Senate and Phi Theta Kappa.  DSLCC is proud to have her as our representative.

Forestry Program Recognized

Please help me congratulate DSLCC’s Forest Management Program as it was recognized in Virginia Living’s State of Education 2014 issue.  Dabney S. Lancaster Community College was recognized under our Science, Math & Technology category for the Forestry Program. The Program will be listed in their Top High Schools & Colleges 2014 list. Congratulations to faculty Brian Keiling and Joe Thacker for leading an award-winning program.

Aspen Finalists Announced

The Aspen Institute announced its 10 community college finalists for the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence at the beginning of September. Although DSLCC was not chosen as a finalist, I am very proud of our selection to the Top 150 Institutions – which places us in the top 10% with all community colleges in the nation.  The ten finalists were selected on performance and improvements in learning, graduation, workforce outcomes, and equitable outcomes for all students, focusing on those in traditionally underserved racial/ethnic groups, and those from low-income backgrounds.  DSLCC looks forward to our next chance at the Finals in 2017.  A list of the Top 10 finalists can be found here.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #6

For this News & Notes I wanted to share a “Letter to the Community” I sent to all our local newspapers to be published this week.  I hope you enjoy it and appreciate all your support during the past year.

Letter to the Community

It is difficult to believe that a year has passed by since I assumed the presidency of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. These twelve months have a busy, exciting time for me and my family. The warm welcome from everyone has made our transition smooth and we are filled with excitement as we look ahead.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to those throughout the College’s service area who have been so supportive and positive. DSLCC could not have achieved the level of success that it enjoys without all of you. Virginia’s community colleges exist to offer educational and training programs and while DSLCC fulfills this role, I know that we do much more to add to the cultural, civic and social activities that make a “community” unique and a great place to live and work. Together we will strengthen and grow the college and I am excited to lead DSLCC into the future with your help and support.

My first goal was to listen, which I achieved through a series of twelve community forums, held throughout the service area. On the basis of what I heard, I formulated some short- and long-term goals for DSLCC which will provide the framework within which our faculty, staff and administrators will move forward. But the listening does not stop; I plan to continue hosting sessions throughout the area through which residents can express what they have successfully experienced with DSLCC as well as ways in which we can improve and grow.

My first year has ended, but our journey is just beginning. I look forward to working for you, and with you, to fulfill the mission of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College.

John J. Rainone, Ed.D.
July 8, 2014

News & Notes #5

Many exciting things have happened at DSLCC and in our community over the past month and I’m happy to share a few of these items with you.

New Logo and Branding Campaign

Students, faculty, and staff, as well as the entire community, will soon see a fresh new look for DSLCC with the launch of a new logo and branding campaign.  The new logo was developed by our own Paul Vosteen and allows for flexible use in a variety of media and formats.  It is easy to recognize and gives instant brand identification.  The final point, and one that was especially important to me, was that it was respectful of our heritage, while being forward-looking as well.  Paul’s thought is that “the logo brings in the mountains and the Jackson River that border our campus that set us apart from so many other colleges in the VCCS.”  I could not agree more.

logo_socmedia logotype

A new logo is only a first step in a complete branding campaign and guidelines planned over the upcoming year. I want very much to have a consistent look and feel for every communication from DSLCC.  We will be working and phasing in new messaging, print materials, letterhead, social media, signage, business cards, and a new website.  A small team will begin working  with an agency to guide us through these projects.


What a terrific evening!  Thank you once again to everyone, especially faculty and staff, who made Commencement the topping on the cake of what’s been a truly wonderful year.  It was our hope to make this a memorable event in our graduates’  lives.  By all indications, I think we accomplished that and much more.  There were so many wonderful moments of graduation:  walking across the stage to receive diplomas as family and friends cheered every graduate; the wonderful speeches from our two students (David Shofstal and Emanuel Lewis); the poignant words from speaker Elizabeth Creamer; and seeing plenty of hugs from proud families, friends and fellow graduates.  Congratulations Class of 2014!

A gallery of photos from the event is available on the DSLCC Flickr Site.

Nursing Ceremonies

For a nursing student, being capped or pinned signifies completion. With the tight bonds made with peers and faculty members – and the prospect of beginning a professional career in nursing – the pleasure I had joining the Practical Nursing (PN) and Registered Nursing (RN) programs ceremonies on May 7 and 8, respectively, was truly an honor for me.  Congratulations to all the great Nursing Faculty who prepared these students and to the graduates whose path was long, steep and sometimes rocky, we commend you.

New 24/7 Tutoring Services Available to Students

We are pleased to announce new tutoring services available for DSLCC students beginning with summer sessions. Funded as part of the Success Coach grant from the VCCS, DSLCC has signed a three-year agreement with Smarthinking, a national leader in on-demand tutoring services.  These services provide DSLCC students with live, professional, online, 1:1 tutoring support so they can get help on or off campus, at night or on the weekend.  These services will supplement the already great academic support students receive from the Achievement Center and Library, but this enables students to get help when they need it and offers  support in those disciplines that we had previously not been able to provide.  Smarthinking provides tutoring services in 33 subject areas and can integrate with current resources such as Blackboard® and MyMathLab®.  Library Director Nova Wright will serve as our liaison.

Senior Law Day

DSLCC was proud to co-sponsor a Senior Law Day on Wednesday, May 21 in the Moomaw Center.  With over 200 in attendance, the Senior Law Day program was designed to provide seniors, their adult children, and other interested citizens with information and access to resources on a wide range of issues that are important to seniors but often difficult to address. Some of our very own local attorneys, as well as other local experts, provided meaningful and clear information on important subjects such as basic estate planning and probate issues, elder abuse and identity theft, long-term care contracts, nursing home negligence, how to pay for long-term care (including Medicaid planning and veterans’ pensions), and grandparent rights.  The last Senior Law Day was held in May 2011.  Special recognition goes to Doris Baker and Billy Ould for their work and assistance.  Members of the planning committee said, “We could not have pulled off the program without them.”

Major Grant Received

I am pleased to announce that DSLCC received a grant for $321,930 over two years from the Alleghany Foundation for a project “Increasing Educational Attainment in the Alleghany Highlands.”  The key components of the grant include hiring two full-time Career Coaches who will be sharing duties at the three high schools and the two technical centers located in Alleghany and Bath counties and the city of Covington.   DSLCC has been without a major presence of Career Coaches for over three years and these positions will help students explore career pathways and complement the college and career exploration activities implemented at the high schools.  The grant also allows us to expand the hours of a Dual Enrollment Coordinator as well as provide scholarships to expand enrollment in the Jackson River Governor’s School and in Dual Enrollment courses.  We are also exploring additional funding options to replicate these efforts in our entire service area.

We are excited at this opportunity to further serve each and every individual seeking academic credentials and workforce preparation.  My goal is that DSLCC will expand participation so no eligible student with the ability to benefit would be turned away from higher education.  I thank the Alleghany Foundation for their faith in DSLCC.

AACC Appointment

I am pleased to announce that I have been appointed to the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) Commission on Communications and Marketing.  As you may know, AACC is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges and the Commissions provide advice to the AACC Board and staff; encourage collaboration among community college entities and organizations; and provide a forum for focused conversation about the important community college issues and priorities of the day.  It is an honor for me as well as DSLCC.  I have experience serving on this Commission, having represented the Council for Resource Development (CRD) in 2010-2012.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #4

Welcome to the next edition of News & Notes.  I want to thank you again for the positive feedback from many of you on these News & Notes.  If you would like for me to include additional information, do not hesitate to contact me.  As a reminder, if you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post.  Enjoy!

Commencement Speaker Named

As the spring season approaches, so does Commencement!

Commencement will be held on Tuesday, May 13 at 7:00 p.m. I am pleased to announce that Ms. Elizabeth Creamer, Director of Education and Workforce Development from the Office of the Secretary of Education for Governor Terry cAuliffe, will provide the Commencement Address.  Ms. Creamer also served in the same role for former Governor McDonnell.

As the former Assistant Vice Chancellor of Career Pathways and Workforce Development Programs for the VCCS, Ms. Creamer led a team charged with statewide leadership and administration of Workforce Investment Act programs, Postsecondary Perkins Grants, Career Coaches for high school students and adults, Apprenticeship Related Instruction, non-credit and customized training, Career Readiness Certificate, and Middle College, a bridge program into postsecondary education and employment targeted for adults without high school credentials.

During her tenure at the VCCS, Ms. Creamer helped launch the Commonwealth’s career pathways system which has provided training, technical assistance, and grant support to regional partnerships of Workforce Investment Boards, community colleges and employers to launch education and employment “pipelines” into advanced manufacturing, energy, and health sciences.  She has also previously served as a Director of Career Pathways and Dual Enrollment at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton and as an Academic Program Coordinator at Paul D. Camp Community College in Franklin and Suffolk.  Ms. Creamer has led a National Science Foundation project: Creating Pathways for the New IT Professional, and has served as a board member for the National Career Pathways Network.  A non-traditional college student who earned her baccalaureate degree as a working mother of three children, she holds a B.A. from Christopher Newport University and a M.A. from Old Dominion University.

Our graduates, faculty, staff, and guests will find Ms. Creamer inspiring with her story and passion for community colleges and workforce development.

Aspen Application Completed

On Tuesday, March 11, DSLCC submitted the final application for The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges. 

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

I would like to personally thank the writing team of Gail Johnson, Chris Orem, Gary Keener, and Michael Scott for their wonderful work.  We believe we have made a compelling case and will be notified of the results this fall.

Sustainable Agriculture Discussion

On Monday, March 10, a group of approximately 30 individuals gathered at the Rockbridge Regional Center to explore new programs and courses in sustainable agriculture and related topics.  I was impressed with the passion that so many have for these issues that are so important for the health, wellness, food/beverage supply chain, and other factors that impact the quality of life for the region.  Led by the efforts of Gail Johnson and Doug Jones, DSLCC has been discussing possible program ideas.


Congratulations to Cynthia Boteler on her selection of the Distinguished Educator award from the Black Concern Commission (BCC).  Selected by a group of your peers, the Celebration of Excellence Awards honors members who have made a profound difference in the lives of minority students through life-time service, leadership, teaching and overall dedication to the BCC mission.  The recognition is made for Cynthia’s profound contributions which have significantly changed the climate of a department, campus community, or the VCCS as a whole.  Please help me recognize Cynthia on this well-deserved honor.

Congratulations to Pam Brown on successfully passing all of the requirements to obtain her Masters of Business Administration (with an emphasis in Accounting) from American Public University.  We are very proud of you.

DSLCC Team Visits George Washington University

I was pleased to visit the School of Nursing at George Washington University with Lynn McAllister, Gloria Lawrence, Gail Johnson, and Sharon Johnson, CEO of the Shenandoah Valley Workforce Investment Board in February to meet with Dean Jean Johnson and her team.  The purpose of the visit was to discuss building on our current nursing (RN to BSN) agreement in other areas such as complementary and alternative therapies and potential courses in mental health.  We also had an opportunity to meet with a representative from the American Red Cross National Office on the possibility of DSLCC being a partner with some of their programs and services.

New Programs Approved

At the recent Curriculum & Instruction Committee meeting, three new Career Studies Certificates were recommended for approval to move onto the Local Board for final approval.  These are outstanding examples of new offerings developed under programs already established, with the goal of adding new courses and expanding enrollment:  Baking & Pastry will complement Culinary Arts and Management and Instrumentation and Renewable Energy Technologies will add options through our Advanced Manufacturing program to meet changing employer needs.

Inauguration Date Set

I am honored to announce that the Inauguration of your 4th President of DSLCC has been set for Friday, September 19.  An inauguration is not just the formal ceremony, but is comprised of a series of events organized around the ceremony. These events provide opportunities for members of the DSLCC family, dignitaries and the entire community to celebrate all elements of the College and move forward together.

The inauguration is designed to unite those with a stake in the future of the college and the entire college family – students, faculty, staff, alumni, legislators, friends and donors – with a common understanding of the College and a vision of its future.

Rachael Thompson and Gail Johnson have agreed to serve as co-chairs of the Inauguration Committee.  They will be inviting members of the DSLCC community to join them in planning “Our Next Fifty Years.”

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #3

Happy New Year!  I hope each of you enjoyed the holiday season and were able to spend quality time with family and friends.  I thank you again for the positive feedback on this form of communication with the campus community.  As a reminder, if you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post.

DSLCC Recognized by the Aspen Institute

The Aspen Institute College Excellence Program named Dabney S. Lancaster Community College as one of the nation’s top 150 community colleges eligible to compete for the 2015 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence and $1 million dollars in prize funds.

The Prize, awarded every two years, is the nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges and recognizes institutions for exceptional student outcomes in four areas: student learning, certificate and degree completion, employment and earnings, and high levels of access and success for minority and low-income students.

The Aspen Institute identified the top community colleges through an assessment of institutional performance, improvement, and equity on student retention and completion measures.

DSLCC was selected from a national pool of over 1,000 public two-year colleges using publicly available data on student outcomes.

You can find out more about this journey at

DSLCC Expands Online Courses with Partnership

I am pleased to announce a new partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) and the Shared Services Distance Learning Network.  This program will expand DSLCC’s capacity for greater student access and comprehensive course offerings.  These courses allow students to earn DSLCC credit while taking an online course with a NOVA instructor, as well as use the DSLCC testing centers to take proctored tests.  This partnership allows DSLCC to offer courses otherwise unable to offer due to limited enrollment or which we do not currently have credentialed faculty.  The students in Shared Service Network will have access to all the services provided by NOVA in addition to the resources available to all students at DSLCC.  The first courses are slated to be on our schedule for this summer.

DSLCC to Host the Mid-Atlantic STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series

On April 5, 2014, DSLCC will host the STIHL® TIMBERSPORTS® Series for woodsmen’s competition of the Collegiate Series Mid-Atlantic Qualifiers.

ESPNU cameras will be on site to capture the competition. The network will provide a national platform to not only highlight the competition, but also spotlight DSLCC’s Forestry program.

DSLCC is thrilled to host the Series and being able to showcase our forestry program and college on a national level really means a lot to our school and our community.  Congratulations to Brian Keiling, Joe Thacker, and the students of DSLCC’s Forestry program.


Lynn McAllister and Karen Persinger  for their recent presentation, “Implementation of a QSEN Curriculum by an Associate Degree Nursing Program” at the Elsevier Faculty Development Conference held in Las Vegas.  This presentation was also accepted at the VCCS New Horizons Conference in April.   Congratulations Karen and Lynn.

Rotaract at DSLCC

Recently, David Kleppinger, executive director of the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation, held an information session about how to start a “Rotaract” Club, a service organization for adults age 18 to 30.  Rotaract is a global community of young adults who gather for positive change.  Rotaract clubs are involved with hands-on service projects, fun networking and social activities, and provides an opportunity for professional development.  If we are able to get at least 15 DSLCC students interested in starting a Rotaract club, the Covington-Hot Springs Rotary Club has agreed to sponsor our Rotaract Club.  Any student interested, should contact Dave Kleppinger at  Additional information is available at

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

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News & Notes #2

I want to thank you for the positive feedback from the first News & Notes. As you can see, this version is on now a President’s Blog which I hope to post to occasionally. If you would like to receive direct responses from this Blog, you can “subscribe” to it and receive emails each time I post. Thanks to Paul Vosteen for setting this up on our system.

I would also like to once again recognize John Barnes, Sandy Haverlack, and Lynda Thompson for their years of service to DSLCC. You colleagues and your students thank you for your dedication.  You will be missed!

Community Parades

Congratulations to the Student Senate and the many employees for their work on the DSLCC Holiday Parade Float.  I learned from John Barnes that it has been 22 years since DSLCC participated in the local festivities.  I am proud of the commitment on behalf of the students, faculty and staff.  A special thank you goes to Student Senate President Danielle Reynolds for her leadership.

The work of everyone showed when DSLCC’s Float won 1st prize in the Covington Parade and 2nd Prize in the Buena Vista Parade.  Congratulations.

DSLCC Presentations

DSLCC presented recently a “Prescription for Partnership” at the 2013 VCCS Hire Ed Conference at the Omni Homestead.  This presentation described our partnership with George Washington University and Lewis Gale Alleghany Hospital and with our RN program at DSLCC.  This model is perfect for other industries concerned with upskilling incumbent workers and having sufficient numbers of candidates to hire.  Joining me on the panel was Dr. Jean Johnson, Dean of School of Nursing , George Washington University; Lynn McAllister, Head of DSLCC Nursing Program, Matt McGraw, DSLCC Director of Student Services, and Robin Broughman, Director of Nursing, Lewis Gale Hospital-Alleghany.

Also at the Omni Homestead, Gary Keener co-presented on the Virginia Education Wizard and what it means for our students.  The panel highlighted the use of the Wizard as a component of advising and how this tool can assist users in their quest for careers matching personal skills and interests.

I was happy to be invited to speak at this year’s Council for Resource Development Annual Conference in November in Washington, DC.  As a Past President of the organization, I was asked to co-present at the Executive Institute on the “President’s Role in Fundraising.”  In addition, I was asked to open a morning session for the Campus Impact Awards with a brief discussion on leadership.  I used one of my favorites, Abraham Lincoln, as the basis for the speech.

Holiday Cheer Decorating

Congratulations to Institutional Effectiveness and Research for collecting the most pet food for the Animal Shelter.  They collected a total of 364 pounds!

Congratulations to Talent Search!  Their door was judged to be the “Best Holiday Door Decoration”.  Our theme this year was The Culture of Competition.  Their door was titled, “There’s No Competition: Animals are our Best Friends.”

Honorable Mention goes to both Institutional Effectiveness and Research and the DSLCC Educational Foundation.  The PTK students took special note of the intricate scissors work used on both of these doors.

Thank you to Ralph Sass, Kathy Nicely, and Kathy Smestad for your leadership and thanks to everyone for participating.

DSLCC in the Community

  • Gail Johnson attended the summary session of the Blueprint Virginia initiative.  This activity culminated a year-long process launched by the Virginia Chamber of Commerce that looked at trends and goals for key sectors of the state’s economy and put them into a cohesive plan to present to Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe.
  • Michael Scott and Gary Keener hosted a meeting of area high school guidance counselors and principals.
  • Penny Fauber was on WREL radio to discuss the College’s practical nursing program.
  • The School Group, led by Michael Scott, continues to meet to discuss best practices, college procedures and current issues that impact the interaction of DSLCC employees with the area public schools.  Topics include things such as dual enrollment and placement testing.
  • Lauren Wiley attended a career fair in Greenbrier County, WV.  Students from GEHS and GWHS attended the event.
  • Donnie Kern is working with Goodwill Industries to host two Job Fairs during the DSLCC spring break in March.  Watch for more information!
  • Gail Johnson attended Parent Day at Millboro Elementary School.  Parents and teachers stopped by to offer ideas for credit and noncredit courses that the College may want to offer in that section of Bath County.

General Assembly Visits

I will be taking groups of DSLCC students and college staff to visit our representatives in the General Assembly.  In 2014, we are scheduled to be in Richmond January 21 and February 5.  This year’s theme is to Preparing Virginians for Tomorrow’s Jobs!  The focus will be on

  • Producing More College Graduates
  • Growing Virginia’s Pipeline of Talent
  • Keeping Higher Education Affordable
  • Investing in Workforce Credentials
  • 21st Century Workforce Equipment, Facilities and Instructors


Please join me in congratulating Nova Wright, who recently received the TRIO Achievement Award for the state of Virginia.  Nova was recognized in Virginia Beach at the VAEOPP (Virginia Association of Educational Opportunity Program Personnel) Conference.  VAEOPP represents all TRIO programs in the state of Virginia.  The VAEOPP Achiever’s Award seeks to recognize individuals who were members of one or more TRIO programs and who have achieved success in their chosen field. As a non-traditional student, Nova came to DSLCC as an adult and was served by the Student Support Services program (A Center).  Her two older boys were also members of the Talent Search program. Nova gave a moving statement at the conference giving credit to the many folks at DSLCC who encouraged and mentored her during her educational journey. Nova was chosen for this award from among the other applicants not only for the success she has achieved, but for the fact that she strives to “pay it forward” in her position as Library Director and provide the mentoring, encouragement and assistance that help our students succeed.

Congratulations to Tamra Lipscomb for her appointment on the VCCS Technology Council.  Tamra will have a great opportunity to represent DSLCC in developing and recommending technology planning from a system-wide policy perspective.  The VCCS Technology Council provides analysis and advice to the Advisory Council of Presidents (ACOP) on technology issues.

Congratulations to the Clifton Forge School of the Arts as they were honored as the recipient of one of only four state-wide Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor’s Awards for Workforce Development, during the annual Hire Ed Conference at the Omni Homestead. The CFSOTA won the award in the category of “Community Services” for its partnership with Dabney S. Lancaster Community College in offering credit and non-credit courses.

Do You Have News for the Next “News & Notes”?

If you would like me to share your news in an upcoming issue of News & Notes, you may submit it anytime directly to Gail Johnson at

For More Information

If you have any questions about any of the information contained within, please contact me at  Thank you!

Follow Me on Twitter


I wish you and your family Happy Holidays and the most joyful of New Year!