The following is a monthly column from Dr. Darrin Hartness that ran in the Lexington Dispatch and the Davie Enterprise in the month of January 2020.
Our goal at Davidson County Community College is connecting the individuals of our community with pathways for success. It is a challenging, but continuously rewarding calling. Helping students prepare for their future does not happen by accident or coincidence. In fact, the journey of each person is unique, personal, and exponentially complex. Behind the scenes is a network of professionals who get out of bed each morning ready to engage in the innovation and growth occurring on our campuses. Our focus at DCCC will always be our students, but we know such a focus requires exceptional employees who love where they work.
With this in mind, when I began as DCCC’s president, I wanted to ensure we place a strong focus on our efforts to recruit and retain the best employees. In fact, it is my goal to ensure DCCC is the best place to work in Davidson and Davie counties. To reach this goal, I knew that cultivating a culture of care and compassion was the first step. After all, if our mission is to care for the needs of our students, we must first care for one another. This first step involved understanding our professional culture. All faculty and staff were able to participate in an anonymous survey assessing just that. With honest and constructive feedback, we were able to begin the work of reviewing, updating, and implementing policies, procedures, and practices across our campuses.
From these conversations, we worked to align our work environment with the ideals of understanding and fulfillment. This alignment was based not on what we thought the needs of our faculty and staff were, but on the actual responses received from our peers across campus. I am happy to say that DCCC now rewards employees with childcare assistance, tuition benefits for themselves and their families, child involvement leave, incentives for earning advanced degrees, discount cards to local businesses, and free admission to home athletic events. We also rolled out new supplemental benefits in January that offered more choices and reduced premiums.
Building a better campus environment also includes empowering our incredible faculty. They are on the front lines of carrying out the mission of the college. To best serve our instructors as they do their work inside and outside the classroom, we listened to their needs and we acted. Our nine-month faculty now have personal leave days to care for personal or family needs. A recent $2.25 million federal grant works to support the efforts of instructors. These funds enhance the new Center for Teaching and Learning, which serves as a valuable resource providing additional professional development and support, and new instructional technology in our classrooms. We believe confident and content faculty members go on to better instruct and inspire students.
Yet benefits, resources, and support are only a piece of why those inside and outside our community come to work at Davidson County Community College. There is the nature of the work itself.
From DCCC’s enrollment counselors to faculty members and maintenance workers, the work we do is fulfilling and tangible. Our employees witness the results of their hard work every day. It happens when a student finally reaches a long-sought goal, whether it be as simple as passing a test or as big as graduating and earning a life-sustaining wage for themselves and their family. It could happen when a student becomes the first in their family to enroll in college, or when they are hired in that new job or career. Our employees witness personal successes every day when they walk through our doors.
Students give us their trust to guide them to a successful and promising future. We are a direct line to the beginning of new businesses, strengthening communities, and raising individuals to reach their personal best. What better calling and legacy is there than to improve the lives of others?
If you are ready to make a difference that lasts a lifetime, we are always looking for innovative, passionate, and caring individuals to join the DCCC team. Start your journey and explore our current opportunities at DavidsonCCC.edu/Employment.