Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria Campus welcomed the Embassy of Chile and representatives from various professional institutions and technical colleges in Chile on May 24. The group of educators met with Alexandria Provost Annette Haggray and the campus deans to discuss online education, graduation, retention and employer/employee relationships.
Representatives included Director Eugenio Tironi and Board President Manfred Brauchle of Escuela de Comercio; Dean Juan Pablo Guzman of Santo Thomas; Dean Fernando Martinez of Apex International Education Partners, LLC (AIEP); Dean Arturo Fuentes of Instituto de Ciencias Tecnológicas (CIISA); Dean Rodrigo Cerón of Escuela de Contadores Auditores de Santiago (ECAS); Dean Sergio Morales and Board President Jorge Brito Obreque of San Agustin; Esucomex Profesional Instituto; Executive Director Patricia Noda of Vertebral; and Dean Jorge Menendez of the Technical Training Center of ENAC; Dean Carlos Sainz of UCN Ceduc.
During the roundtable discussion, Haggray explained that NOVA provides a number of services and opportunities for the community on its six campuses. She also emphasized that one reason NOVA is able to continue to make great strides in Northern Virginia is because of its connection with the various local businesses and organizations.
“One of the unique things about community colleges, and we’re no different here at NOVA, is that we have close relationships with our community,” she said. “Because of those relationships, NOVA can meet the educational and professional needs of the community.”
Dean of the Math, Science and Engineering Division Chad Knights added that they also meet monthly with the advisory board and even more frequently with subcommittee members who are representatives of local business and city government. Dr. Ivy Beringer, dean of the Social and Professional Sciences Division, said this gives them another opportunity to hear from the community and what they need.
Knights and Beringer explained that this board can come to the Alexandria administration and say what kind of training and information they’d like future employees to have and NOVA tries to meet those needs. Advisory board members also often work for companies or organizations that provide internship opportunities for college students.
“With the advisory board, they essentially get to train their future employees,” Knights said.
The educators also asked questions about financial aid, degree and certification opportunities and student intentions when they register for classes at NOVA. They also asked about why students would choose NOVA instead of a four-year college or university.
“There are three types of students at NOVA,” explained Dean of Liberal Arts Jimmie McClellan. “Students who want to take classes and then transfer to another college or university, students who want to earn an associate degree or a certificate for immediate employment after graduation and those who want to explore their intellectual curiosity. NOVA also has admissions agreements with most universities in the region.”
McClellan also explained that the Alexandria Campus has an exchange program with higher education institutions in Dundee, Scotland, the sister city to the City of Alexandria. Because of that program, they also organize lectures with classes in Scotland using Skype and other technology. McClellan said the campus would be more than happy to collaborate to organize and implement a similar program with schools in Chile. Beringer added that NOVA also offers the Extended Learning Institute (ELI) which allows students to access courses and class material online.
“There are pros and cons to online learning, and that’s for any college or university,” Beringer said. “But there are more pros to ELI, including that there are students who take classes with us from all over the world.”
The educators are representatives of professional training institutions and technical colleges that are a part of an association of community colleges in Chile that serves more than 400,000 students. The Embassy of Chile organized their visit to NOVA Alexandria in an effort to help them gather ideas on how to improve their system, network and make connections in an effort to collaborate more with educators and higher education institutions in the United States.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.