11/17/14: Roxbury Community College’s Turnaround is featured in the Boston Globe!

In case you missed it, RCC President Dr. Valerie Roberson had an interview with the Boston Globe regarding the major changes occurring on the RCC campus. We pasted the article below. If you’d like to view the original article, click here.


RCC President Dr. Valerie Roberson. Photo Courtesy: David Ryan, Boston Globe

New president putting Roxbury Community College back on track

Aggressive turnaround plan paying off

By Peter Schworm | GLOBE STAFF   NOVEMBER 17, 2014

Two years ago, Roxbury Community College was mired in controversy. Whistle-blower complaints prompted a federal investigation into troubling lapses in reporting campus crimes, while the state auditor’s office launched a review of financial mismanagement at the college’s athletic center.

The financial aid program was in such disarray the US government refused to distribute funds directly, forcing the school to cover grants, then seek federal reimbursements. Under siege on multiple fronts, the college seemed to be coming apart at the seams.

But president Valerie Roberson, who arrived last summer, has led an aggressive turnaround plan, paring a budget that was millions in deficit, cutting administrative staff by about 20 percent, and taking a hard look at the entire academic operation.

Roberson has begun to reach out to area high schools in hopes of boosting enrollment. She is also seeking to strengthen relationships with area colleges, hospitals, and businesses to help students land internships and jobs.

Roberson said she took the job with the understanding that the school had plenty of problems. But over the past year, the full extent of its troubles became clear, she said.

“It was just the tip of the iceberg,” she said in an interview. “You find out the challenges are much more systemic, and we had to start at the foundation.”

Gerald Chertavian, chairman of the college’s board of trustees who was appointed by Governor Deval Patrick last year, likened Roberson’s first year to a kind of triage, given the host of immediate problems the college faced.

Despite the sweeping overhaul, Chertavian and Roberson agree the college, long plagued by poor management and low graduation rates, has substantial work ahead. It remains under federal investigation for violating campus safety laws, while its financial aid program remains under watch. And rebuilding the college’s reputation will take time.

Roxbury Community College is among the state’s smallest, and enrollment has dropped by more than 300 students since 2011. But in the past year, it climbed 3 percent, a welcome sign of progress.

The college has also made strides in resolving the crises that roiled the campus two years ago, gradually regaining the trust of federal monitors. “We’re a few innings into a longer game,” Chertavian said. “And we need to hold ourselves accountable.”

The stakes are high, education officials say. Community colleges are vital training grounds for so-called middle-skilled jobs, a growing segment of the employment market that often requires associate’s degrees, and as springboards to four-year colleges for students from low-income backgrounds.

At Roxbury Community College, where the average student is 29 and is usually balancing classes with work and family responsibilities, classes can provide a path to a better-paying job or a career change.

Yet skepticism about the college has sent many students, even those who live nearby, to other schools, particularly Bunker Hill Community College. In response, RCC is trying to improve student services — making it simpler for students to find the right classes and receive financial aid — and reaching out to area high schools to rebuild a sense of trust.

“The college has to have a stronger relationship with college counselors and principals,” Roberson said.

The college has begun distributing an informational magazine called “Career Focus,” which highlights specific academic programs and their potential jobs. For example, a feature on the nursing program notes that licensed nurses earn more than $50,000 a year, while nursing assistants earn close to $30,000.

Richard Freeland, the state’s commissioner of higher education, said Roberson moved quickly to address the repeated shortcomings that had drawn state and federal scrutiny, and made sweeping changes to the staff. “She cleaned house,” Freeland said. “I’ve never seen a broader set of personnel changes.”

A longtime community college administrator, Roberson came to Boston from Joliet Junior College in Joliet, Ill., where she was vice president for academic affairs. She was formerly president of Olive-Harvey College, a community college in Chicago.

Upon arriving, her most immediate problem was the financial aid department, which had come under scrutiny for violating federal policies.

“The federal government had totally lost confidence in their ability to manage this money responsibly,” Freeland said. “There were problems almost across the board.”

To remedy the problem, RCC now offers a support system that can guide students through the tricky process of applying for financial aid. The college retrained financial aid staff on the latest federal regulations, and has been in daily contact with the US Department of Education.

While the college must still handle some costs up front, the speed of reimbursements has accelerated, she said.

“We’re making significant progress,” she said. “They are gaining confidence.”

The college was also facing a substantial deficit, with little money left in reserve. In the spring, the Legislature authorized $3 million to shore up the school’s finances.

Roberson said the college was not spending efficiently and she tried to cut costs without hurting academics.

The college’s administration is aggressively seeking more grants, and is working to bolster fund-raising, she said. Chertavian said financial stability is crucial to the college’s success.

“This college both deserves and needs resources,” he said.

The newfound sense of progress stands in stark contrast to recent years, when the college faced a series of controversies that led to president Terrence Gomes stepping down in June 2012.

The state auditor’s office found a range of financial lapses at the college’s Reggie Lewis Track and Athletic Center, and Roberson found the facility had been run with little oversight from the college. Under a new chief financial officer, the center has been brought into the fold, she said.

RCC had also come under investigation for failing to investigate and report sexual crimes on campus, including allegations against two employees.

In March 2013, the college released a report that found that senior administrators had not properly reported allegations of sexual assault and in one case had apparently paid a student to keep quiet.

Now, all mandatory reporters have received training on the proper procedures for handling allegations of sexual assaults and reporting them as required under federal law.

“We’re in full compliance,” she said.

In its most recent information required under the Clery Act, RCC said it had received no reports of sexual offenses on campus in 2013. As a commuter school with a small campus, the college will typically have fewer reports of crimes than a residential campus, Roberson said.

Students and recent graduates say they largely felt removed from the controversy swirling around the school, and that they didn’t believe it affected the quality of the classes. Kevin Small Jr., 20, who graduated in the spring with a degree in business administration, said his overall experience at the school was extremely positive.

Small grew up in Dorchester and chose Roxbury Community College to help him adjust to college academics. He initially thought he would take just a few classes before transferring to a four-year school, but wound up staying the full two years.

“I didn’t want to leave because the experience was so strong,” he said.

Now a student at Suffolk University, Small said his time at RCC prepared him well.

Roberson said that while handling immediate problems has consumed much of her time, it gave her greater insight into the college’s inner workings.

“It’s been a tough year,” she said. “But in a strange way, it helped. It forced me to get into the weeds.”

Peter Schworm can be reached at schworm@globe.com.

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#RCCHC Kickoff Event: Roxbury Community College to Host Harvard University Journalism Fellows

RCCNewHCBannerGuest Panelists Will Explore Behind The Lens: Who Does The News Speak For?

BOSTON- Roxbury Community College’s journalism program will host a visit from accomplished and promising journalists of Harvard University’s Nieman Foundation on Thursday, 20 November 2014, from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. in the Media Arts Center main auditorium (Building 1).


Alicia Stewart, CNN

Guest fellows will include CNN editor, producer and documentarian Alicia Stewart; Dawn Turner Trice, columnist and specialist reporter for the Chicago Tribune; and Gabe Bullard, director of news and editorial strategy at NPR affiliate WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky. They will be joined by local area journalists such as senior editor Yawu Miller of The Bay State Banner and moderator Professor Judith Kahalas of RCC.

Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune

Dawn Turner Trice, Chicago Tribune

This dialogue will be in response to student inquiries about developing news stories, practices, and significant developments in social media. Among the topics for discussion:

• How is news constructed today, by whom and for what purpose?

• Why is there so little “good news” and a seeming preponderance of “bad news”?

• What are the effects of wide-ranging social media applications on traditional journalism?

• What are the future job prospects for writers, photo-journalists, bloggers and free-lancers?

Gabe Bullard, WFPL

Gabe Bullard, WFPL

• How much control is exerted by corporations in the gathering and dissemination of news?

• From the vantage point of our guests, what are the noteworthy trends and stories, local, national and international, that Americans should be following today?

Designed to inform, stimulate and educate, all are welcome to this vigorous conversation

Yawu Miller, Bay State Banner

Yawu Miller, Bay State Banner

for students from a variety of disciplines: Black studies, English composition and literature, criminal justice, political science, history, economics, sociology and media studies, the Honors Program and Poetry Club, among others. A question-and-answer period will follow brief introductory statements.

This event is free and open to the public.

For more information, please contact Contact: Judith Kahalas (jkahalas@rcc.mass.edu) (617.427.0060) or Kevin Aylmer (kaylmer@rcc.mass.edu) (617.524.3835).

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# RCCHC Homecoming is Less Than a Week Away!

What are you most excited about for this year’s Homecoming? #RCCHC


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Corporate and Community Education and Lifelong Learning at Roxbury Community College

RCCRealEstateLicenseCorporate and Community Education and Lifelong Learning at Roxbury Community College has some great upcoming programs for the Spring!

For Fall 2014: Our Real Estate License Course (Part I) is starting soon on November 12th! Registration Deadline: Wednesday, 11/12 at 5 pm (Office closed on Tuesday, 11/11)

 All of these programs are open to the community so please share with your networks!

For questions, more information, or to register, please contact:

(617) 933-7410


Administration Building #2, Room 101




Sneak peek at some of what else is coming in Spring 2015:


Entrepreneurship: Create Your Own Job Seminar

Tuesdays from 6:30 – 8:30 pm for 9 weeks starting 2/17/15 ($150)


Grant Writing 101: Fundamentals

Mondays from 6-8:30 pm for 8 weeks starting 1/26/15 ($250)


Social Media & Integrated Marketing Services: Effectively Use Social Media to Increase Your Client Base & Expand Your Target Audience

Wednesdays from 6:15 – 8:15 for 6 weeks starting 2/3/15 ($175)


TEAS Exam Prep – More details coming soon


Business Communication

Wednesdays from 6:00 – 8:00 pm starting 1/21/15-3/25/15

Info Session on 12/10 6:00PM


Medical Billing

Mondays from 5:30 – 8:30 starting 1/26/15 – 3/30/15


Medical Interpreter

Mondays from 5:30 – 9 pm for 12 weeks starting 1/26/15


Medical Terminology

Tuesdays from 5:30-9 for 12 weeks starting 1/13/15


Pharmacy Tech

Mondays, Wednesdays, & Thursdays from 6:00- 9:30 PM for 12 weeks starting 1/26/15

Includes 150 hour internship


Pathways to Human Services

Mondays from 6 – 9:30 starting 1/12/15


Community ESOL

Levels 1-6: Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 am – 12 pm for 15 weeks starting 1/21/15


Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6-9 pm for 15 weeks starting 1/21/15


Couponing 101

Saturday, 2/7/15 from 9:30 am – 1:30 pm ($20)


Wednesday, 2/18/15 from 5:30 – 9 pm ($20)


Art of Belly Dancing for Beginners

Wednesdays from 6 – 7:30 pm for 6 classes starting 1/28/15 – 3/4/15 ($70)


Yoga for Beginners

Mondays from 6:30 – 7:45 pm for either 3 or 6 classes

6 classes: 1/26/15 – 3/9/15 ($60)

3 classes: 1/26/15 – 2/9/15 OR 2/23/15 – 3/9/15 ($35)


Kids’ Theater Program – Details coming soon!

MyGym Kids’ Fitness – Details coming soon!


To see more of our upcoming Spring 2015 offerings, browse the RCC website.


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The New RCC Homecoming Banner! November 20 -21, 2014

RCCNewHCBannerWe updated the RCC Homecoming banner so that it reflects all the new events we added to the schedule.

Which events are you looking forward to? Let us know!

Be sure to use #RCCHC when you post about RCC’s Homecoming Facebook and Twitter.

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RCC Homecoming: We Added to the Line up!

RCC Homecoming BannerThe more events added to Homecoming 2014, the merrier you will be! On November 20th, we will also host “Behind The Lens: Who Does The News Speak For?” This panel discussion will be held at 9:30AM-10:45AM in the Auditorium of the Media Arts Building. This event is free to attend!

On November 21st, we also added the Homecoming Performance, “An Apron Full of Beans”. This performance will be run from 5PM-6M in the Media Arts Building, Auditorium.  This event is also free to attend.

For a more comprehensive view, here’s the overall updated schedule:

RCC Homecoming

Thursday, November 20, 2014
9:30am-10:45am    Behind The Lens: Who Does The News Speak For?  (Media Arts Building, Auditorium) *Free Entry

4:30pm-5:00pm RCC Pre-game Fair (Reggie Lewis Center, 1st Floor) *Free Entry
5:00pm-7:00pm Roxbury Community College Women’s Basketball vs. Quinsigamond Community College
7:00pm-9:00pm Roxbury Community College Men’s Basketball vs. Quinsigamond Community
Friday, November 21, 2014
5:00pm-6:00pm        Homecoming Performance “An Apron Full of Beans” (Media Arts Building, Auditorium) *Free Entry

6:00pm-7:00pm RCC Fulltime Faculty & Staff Alumni Gifting
6:00pm-9:00pm Evening Reception (including food and entertainment)*Registration Required

To register for the Evening Reception please purchase ticket(s) via PayPal. Click here to register.


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RCC Homecoming Schedule – The Details!


RCC Homecoming BannerThe holiday season is upon us and Homecoming 2014 is less than two weeks away.  To help you plan efficiently, here’s the detailed schedule of events with associated costs:

Thursday, November 20, 2014
4:30pm-5:00pm RCC Pre-game Fair (Reggie Lewis Center, 1st Floor) – Free Entry!
5:00pm-7:00pm Roxbury Community College Women’s Basketball vs. Quinsigamond Community College –Free Entry!
7:00pm-9:00pm Roxbury Community College Men’s Basketball vs. Quinsigamond Community – Free Entry!
Friday, November 21, 2014

        Homecoming Performance “An Apron Full of Beans” (Media Arts Building, Auditorium)  – Free Entry

6:00pm-7:00pm RCC Fulltime Faculty & Staff Alumni Gifting
6:00pm-9:00pm Evening Reception (including food and entertainment) – Registration Required

To register for the Evening Reception, please click here. We hope to see you on November 20th and 21st!

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