On his fourth day as the new chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, David Doré spent Thursday in Charlottesville hearing from students, faculty and community partners fielding questions about salaries, mental health resources, child care and connections between the University of Virginia and Piedmont Virginia Community College.
“One of the biggest things that I certainly believe is why I was selected for the position is because I bring a really strong workforce background,” Doré told those gathered in the Woodrow W. Bolick Advanced Technology and Student Success Center on PVCC’s campus. “I’m bringing a lot of experience aligning community colleges with the needs of business and industry.”
Doré said another important action item for him to build on the college system’s strategic plan “Opportunity 2027,” which he said is aimed at addressing the “educational achievement gap.”
“The skill gap is another big priority of mine as we have a lot of unfilled positions in the commonwealth and community colleges will play a critical role in that.”
From the time it is written through 2027, the new strategic plan will help guide PVCC’s focus on the future as it reassesses the college’s internal and external communities while preparing for partnerships with other community colleges in the future, PVCC President Jean Runyon said Thursday.
In addition to celebrating PVCC’s 50-year anniversary this year, the college has also made recent changes that Runyon said will remove some of the barriers to success that students encounter.
“It’s really important that our students feel connected from the moment they reach out to us all the way through to completion,” said Runyon, who became PVCC’s sixth president in July of last year. “So we recently launched a new advising model. When a first-time college student comes to college, they are presented with the question of what they want to do. We are going to have advisors who are specialized in those areas of interest to connect with students and follow them all the way through their journey with us ad Piedmont.”
In January, the State Board of Community Colleges announced that Doré would succeed Sharon Morrissey, who had served as the interim president over the commonwealth’s 23 community colleges since last July.
Doré has more than 26 years of experience in community college leadership. Most recently, he was the president of campuses and executive vice chancellor for student experience and workforce development at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona.
Each Arizona community college has its own chancellor, but in Virginia, one chancellor oversees all of the schools and their various campuses. For example, while Doré was executive vice chancellor in Tucson, he oversaw the strategic plans of five community college campuses in Southern Arizona.
“The Virginia system is much bigger than the district that I’m coming from,” Doré said. “This is a massive system. In Arizona, we did not have a statewide system, so Virginia is different in that sense. I think there are a lot of advantages to a statewide system. We can have a more unified voice and can really leverage all of the colleges to take a much more strategic approach to meet the needs of the commonwealth.”
A first-generation college student, Doré earned a doctorate degree in education from Pepperdine University in California, a Master of Business Administration degree at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., a Master of Education degree from Boston College, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Santa Clara University in California, a Licentiate of Philosophy in Ethics from Gonzaga University in Washington state and a bachelor’s in philosophy from Gannon University in Pennsylvania. Doré was a 2017-18 presidential fellow of the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program.
Although Doré has never lived in Virginia, he got to know Northern Virginia as a graduate student at Georgetown, he said.
Doré has committed himself to make in-person visits to each of the commonwealth’s 23 community colleges in 36 days in order to better understand the institutions that he represents while embracing the “value of seeing people in person.” The college tour began on Tuesday at Central Virginia Community College in Lynchburg.
“I thought the best way to get the know the system was to visit all 23 of our colleges and that’s just what I’m doing,” Doré said. “I wanted to hear directly from students or faculty or staff and administrators, and then I’m also meeting community leaders in business and industry. I’m doing this across the entire system – and I’m doing it in a bit of a rush – before the end of the semester.”
This week, Doré and his team visited the Virginia Community Colleges Shared Services Center, Central Virginia Community College, Virginia Western Community College, New River Community College and PVCC. He will resume the tour next Tuesday at Southwest Virginia Community College.