Faculty & Staff :: Faculty Handbook

Professional Development Plan

Rationale for the Plan

Virginia Western Community College has set forth in its mission statement its dedication to "the belief that all people should have equal opportunities to develop and expand their skills and knowledge." The college seeks to achieve its mission through the quality educational opportunities presented to its students and the community it serves and through the professional development opportunities made available to its employees - both faculty and staff. In so doing, the college acknowledges that its success as an educational institution is dependent upon the contributions of each employee.

Definition of Professional Development

The VCCS Professional Development Initiative has defined professional development as a systematic process of renewal, which ultimately creates an environment for learning and growth for students, for educators, for staff and colleges. Professional development is a philosophical approach, not an event.

Professional development activities include opportunities for acquiring and maintaining professional competence, improving instructional skills, pursuing educational goals, achieving personal development and career growth, and responding to changing needs of the college.

Responsibility for Professional Development

The responsibility for professional development is a partnership between the VCCS, the college, and the individual. The VCCS and the college have a responsibility to provide planning, direction, assistance, and resources for professional development. However, each employee is ultimately responsible for his/her own individual growth and development by establishing a plan for that development in collaboration with his or her supervisor and actively seeking out and taking advantage of activities and programs offered by the VCCS and the college.

Goals of the Plan

The goals of the professional development plan are as follows:

  1. To strengthen the college's commitment to quality education by ensuring that faculty, administrators, and classified staff remain current in their fields;
  2. To enhance the morale of all employees by supporting their efforts to maintain high professional standards and attain professional and personal growth;
  3. To encourage creative solutions for approaching the challenges of individual and institutional renewal; and
  4. To improve the efficiency and effectiveness of instructional and non-instructional services provided to the students and the communities of the college's service region.

Groups to be Served

Unless otherwise stated, professional development opportunities will be made available to all employee groups of the college, including nine-month teaching faculty, professional faculty, twelve-month administrative faculty, adjunct faculty, classified employees, grant-funded employees, and wage employees. The eligibility to participate and the scope of activities offered to each group will be dependent upon the requirements and restrictions of the activity, the college's need for specific skills, and the amount and type of funding available.


Funding for professional development activities is accomplished through a combination of state, local, and, where appropriate, federal funds. Funds are also available for certain activities through the VWCC Educational Foundation, VWCC Mini-Grants, and external grants. The President's Cabinet formulates the basis for the funding plan by its annual involvement in the budgetary process and thereby serves as a means of promoting professional development at the college. All attempts will be made by the president and the President's Cabinet to provide adequate funding within the limitations of budgetary constraints.

Needs Assessment

Needs assessment will occur on the individual, division/department, and institutional levels.

Individual Needs Assessment

Faculty and staff will identify individual development needs as part of their annual performance evaluation with their dean/supervisor. Staff are not required to develop a formal written plan separate from the Employee Development Plan contained in the Employee Work Profile, which is developed in consultation with the supervisor.

Division/Department Needs Assessment

Each division/department is responsible for identifying the development and training needs of its personnel necessary for the achievement of its goals. The identification process should be a collaborative effort between the deans/supervisors and their respective faculty/staff.

Institutional Needs Assessment

A college-wide needs assessment survey will be performed on a biennial basis. The President’s Cabinet will review the results of the needs assessment, and appropriate training and development activities will be approved and implemented. In addition, the President’s Cabinet will initiate development activities that it believes are necessary to support the mission of the college.

Professional Development Programs and Opportunities

The college, the VCCS, the VCCA, and other professional organizations offer numerous professional and personal development opportunities, both credit and non-credit, designed to meet the needs of the faculty and staff. Participation in certain professional development opportunities is based upon business necessity and may be restricted to eligible employees.


The college allots a certain amount of its budget to provide for faculty and staff to attend conferences conducted by professional organizations or vendors. These activities provide faculty and staff the opportunity to remain current in their fields and to bring back new ideas and techniques to share with co-workers. Employees interested in attending these conferences should complete a request for professional development. The Professional Development Application will be made available to all staff during the application timeframe.

Educational Foundation Grants

Faculty and classified staff members may apply for Faculty and Staff Innovation Grants to participate in off-campus training or educational opportunities; purchase classroom supplies, educational equipment, books, or software; pursue other activities to further the employee’s education; or develop innovative courses, programs, and curricula. Application for the grants is made through the Educational Foundation Office and may be found at http://www.virginiawestern.edu/grants/grantsdev.php.

VCCS Professional Development Initiative

Special programs and opportunities offered to faculty and classified staff through this initiative includes: peer group meetings, Research and Professional Development Grants, the Minority Faculty Recruitment Project, teleconferences, and the VCCS Leadership Program. Complete descriptions of these programs are available in the Office of Grants Development and Special Projects or at http://old.vccs.edu/FacultyStaff/ProfessionalDevelopment/tabid/120/Default.aspx.

External Grants

All external grant proposals are reviewed and coordinated by the Office of Grants Development and Special Projects. These include proposals submitted to the following entities: federal, state, and local governments; organizations; and foundations. The Virginia Western Community College Grant Proposal Policy and Procedures outlines the procedures and authorizations necessary for developing and submitting grant proposals. Interested faculty and staff can locate additional information about grants and grant opportunities at the following address: http://www.virginiawestern.edu/grants/

VWCC Faculty Mini-Grants

Limited funding is available for faculty through mini-grants to support the use of technology in order to improve instructional opportunities and quality. Applicants may be full-time or adjunct faculty members. Grant recipients may use their award to develop a new course, a new delivery format (such as distance learning), or an improved classroom-based course with expanded use of instructional technology. Funds are provided to compensate faculty for their time and effort but not for instructional equipment, software, or other resources. The college will provide technical support, including training and assistance with instructional technology, software, curriculum development, and assessment. Proposals are to be submitted to the appropriate academic dean and the Coordinator of Distance Learning and Instructional Technology.

New Horizons Conference

The conference is sponsored each spring by the VCCS with Perkins and professional development funding. It is designed to enhance instruction and services by investigating emerging technologies. Both faculty and classified staff may attend.

VCCA Professional Development Programs

The following programs are offered by the VCCA: VCCA Conference, VCCA Professional Growth and Development Grants, VCCA Leadership Seminars, and scholarships to the Virginia Master Teachers Seminar. For more information about these programs, contact the college’s VCCA representative.

Educational Assistance

The purpose of educational assistance is to encourage the education of full-time faculty rank and full-time classified employees with college financial support. Educational assistance is defined as financial assistance for courses taken at other institutions of higher education that do not meet the definition of continuous learning courses. Included in a budget and managed in a fiscal year basis, financial assistance for full-time faculty and full- time classified staff is provided for in the Educational Aid Policy established by the State Board for Community Colleges and the VWCC Supplemental Educational Assistance Policy adopted by the President’s Cabinet. The professional development funds are used for credit hour courses taken at colleges other than VWCC. The amount of financial assistance provided is determined by a number of factors; however, this amount shall not exceed the per credit hour rate at Virginia Tech, unless specified otherwise by VWCC administration.

Guidelines for Professional Development Requests:

  1. Complete, sign and have your supervisor sign, and submit the Professional Development Application by the deadline date established by the Professional Development Committee.
  2. If during the course of the fiscal year you discover you will not be utilizing the awarded funds, notify the Professional Development Committee Chair immediately.

Guidelines for Professional Development Course Reimbursement:

  1. Complete and sign a form VCCS-16.
  2. Obtain your supervisor's signature.
  3. Submit forms to the Human Resources Office with the following documentation:
    1. Official grades
    2. Proof of payment
    3. Copy of funding approval letter from the Vice President's Office

Continuous Learning Courses

Continuous Learning Courses are available to full-time faculty rank, actively teaching adjunct faculty, full-time classified employees, and hourly/wage employees (except student workers, non-student workers, tutors, and Federal work study students). Continuous learning courses are defined as credit hour courses offered at Virginia Western Community College. Eligible employees may request up to six (6) credit hours per semester at no cost for the tuition and mandatory fees. Employees must complete and sign, in front of a notary, a VWCC Promissory Note and are required to make a grade of C, B, or A to avoid repayment to the college.

  1. Complete and sign a form VCCS-16.
  2. Obtain your supervisor's signature.
  3. Complete and sign, in front of a notary, a VWCC Promissory Note.
  4. Submit forms to the Human Resources Office for processing.
  5. Manage your enrollment and course changes either online or through Admissions.

Sabbatical Leave

Sabbatical leave for professional development may be made available to teaching faculty, administrative and professional faculty, and the college president. The objective of such leave is to provide renewed capacity for significant contribution of service to the college and the community at large. Interested faculty members should refer to the VCCS Sabbatical Leave Policy (DOC).

Chancellor's Commonwealth Professorships

Established in 1989, the Chancellor's Commonwealth Professors program rewards teaching excellence through statewide recognition and financial support. Each college in the VCCS is invited to nominate one or more full-time teaching faculty members with at least five years of service whose instruction sets a standard of excellence. Nominations must originate from peers in the teaching faculty. Up to four Commonwealth Professors may be chosen in a single year. Faculty members interested in nominating one of their peers should contact the Office of Grants Development and Special Projects.

Chancellor's Fellowship for Classified Staff

The Chancellor's Fellowship offers an opportunity for two full-time classified staff employees each year to receive up to a one-year leave of absence to pursue academic goals at a Virginia state-supported institution of higher education. The program provides financial support for tuition and mandatory fees, as well as three-fourths of the employee's salary, and carries a commitment for the employee to return to the VCCS for a minimum time period of twice that of the leave of absence. Employees should contact the Human Resources Office for additional information.

Chancellor's Fellowship Program for Faculty

The purpose of this fellowship is to support the educational aspirations of full-time faculty and to assist in the preparation of future higher education administrators and instructional leaders within the VCCS. Information for interested faculty members can be found on the VCCS Professional Development website.

President’s Fellowship for Classified Employees

The purpose of the fellowship is to enable full-time classified employees at VWCC opportunities to work toward baccalaureate or graduate degrees that will enable them to enhance their contributions to the college. The fellowship provides for a leave of absence up to one semester, financial aid for in-state tuition and mandatory fees, and one-half salary for the semester of leave. For additional information, contact the Human Resources Office.

VWCC Knowledge Center

The VWCC Knowledge Center is an extensive learning management system that enables employees and supervisors to participate in and manage professional development and learning activities. The VWCC Knowledge Center is a web-based application that includes course registration functionality and delivers a wide variety of self-study, customized training to the employees’ desktop. Employees are able to track training completed within the Knowledge Center and add external learning events, such as conferences, workshops, classes, and other professional development opportunities attended, to a training record.


All full-time employees and their eligible dependents, adjuncts, retirees, and hourly/wage employees (except student workers, non-student workers, tutors, and Federal work study students) can participate in this state-sponsored wellness program. CommonHealth assists individuals in identifying their health risks and in making positive lifestyle changes to reduce or eliminate those risks.


Employees needing assistance in identifying career goals and formulating educational plans may receive assistance through the Counseling Department. Career assessment tests are available.


Cross-training occurs when an employee is trained in different tasks or skills. Cross-training is beneficial to employees as it enables them to learn new skills, contribute to the organization in new and different ways, as well as maintain or increase interest and engagement in their work. Cross training of classified staff may be initiated by the college to meet an identified need or at the request of the employee. On-the-job training may be provided or employees may be asked to complete external training.

Department of Human Resource Management

DHRM provides open-enrollment courses and specifically tailored in-house programs for state employees and agencies. A listing of current course offerings can be found on the DHRM Web site at http://www.dhrm.virginia.gov/training.html

Learning Technology Center

The Learning Technology Center is the resource center for supplementary instructional assistance for students, but faculty and staff may also use its facilities and resources. Tutorial assistance, computer-assisted learning, video-assisted learning and other audiovisual presentations are available in a variety of subject disciplines. Tutoring is provided for most subject areas taught by the college. The Writing Center offers assistance in composing effective written documents. A microcomputer lab and a variety of microcomputer software are available for use. Audiovisual facilities may be utilized to view videotapes.


All faculty and staff are encouraged to use the library's resources to further their professional development activities. Because VWCC is a two-year college, most of the books and other materials contained in the library are at an introductory or undergraduate level. However, the library does have a very active interlibrary loan program, which can be used to acquire graduate level materials and/or other items not contained in its collection. The library staff encourages all faculty to become familiar with the VIVA web site, which is available through all of the library's public computers as well as through any other campus computer that has Internet access. VIVA, which stands for Virtual Library of Virginia, is a cooperative effort by Virginia colleges and universities to provide an array of full-text and abstracting services for periodical literature. The cost of these services would prohibit their purchase by smaller libraries. VIVA also contains links to the online catalogs of most Virginia libraries, which should be useful to those engaged in professional development activities.

New Employee Orientation

The Human Resources Office provides an orientation to the college for all new hourly/wage employees, full-time faculty and full-time classified staff covering state, college and VCCS policy, required payroll deductions, benefits, and other areas. Part-time wage, full-time faculty and full-time classified staff also receive an orientation to their division/department by their dean/supervisor, covering the work environment, work schedule, work policies, and work responsibilities. Adjunct faculty orientation is conducted online in conjunction with the respective school.

WorkLife Balance Program

All full time employees and their eligible dependents, adjuncts, retirees, and hourly/wage employees (except student workers, non-student workers, tutors, and Federal work study students) can participate in a variety of seminars that promote mental and physical health as well as increasing an employee’s knowledge on a variety of topics including but not limited to water color techniques, beading, culinary arts, Tia Chi and parenting.


Evaluation of the VWCC Professional Development Plan will occur on the individual, division/department, program, and institutional levels.

Individual Evaluation

For faculty, evaluation of the past year's professional development activities will occur at the time of their annual performance review with their dean. For classified staff, the evaluation of Employee Development Plan contained in the Employee Work Profile occurs during the annual performance review.

Division/Department Evaluation

Deans/supervisors, in collaboration with their faculty/staff, will review and evaluate the professional activities initiated to facilitate the achievement of their division/department goals.

Program Evaluation

Training and development programs offered by the Human Resources Office or other divisions/departments will be evaluated by the participants through the completion of evaluation forms, informal discussions, and interviews. Where appropriate, supervisors of participants will be asked to evaluate the success of the training in developing new skills and/or changing behaviors.

Institutional Evaluation

The President’s Cabinet will monitor the outcomes of college-wide development activities to determine the success of the Professional Development Plan in meeting the needs of the college and furthering its mission. Unproductive activities will be discontinued, and new programs will be added as deemed necessary. In addition to this ongoing evaluation process, the President’s Cabinet will review the Professional Development Plan in its entirety on a periodic basis. This periodic review will ensure that the goals of the plan accurately reflect the priorities of the college and that the plan continues to provide appropriate programs and resources to meet the professional development needs of the faculty and staff.

Dissemination of the Plan

The approved Professional Development Plan will be made available to employees in the following offices:

  • President's Office
  • Vice Presidents’ Offices
  • Human Resources Office

Guidelines for VWCC Professional Development Requests


All members of the Virginia Western faculty and classified staff are eligible to submit proposals for funding to support professional development activities. These activities may include participation in conferences, seminars, or workshops. Faculty and staff may also petition for educational assistance; and teaching, professional, and administrative faculty may request sabbatical leave. Prior to the end of each fiscal year, all faculty and staff should identify their professional development needs as part of a plan that will encompass their activities for the upcoming academic/fiscal year. Each employee will complete a Professional Development Application Request which will be received and reviewed by the ad hoc Professional Development Committee.

Submission Deadline

All employees should submit their applications to their supervisors by March 15.

Review Process/Evaluation Criteria

Representatives from various units of the college will review all requests for professional development support and recommend to the vice president of academic and student affairs those proposals that merit funding. Reviewers of professional development applications will consider the following factors in evaluating proposals:

  • The congruency of the requests with the goals of the college and the college’s emerging initiatives;
  • The positive contribution that the proposed activities will make to students and other members of the college community; and
  • The significance of the proposed activities to the academic discipline and/or the individual applicant's professional development.

Components of the Application

Each application for professional development funding must include the following:

  • A completed cover sheet;
  • A listing and description of each activity for which funding is sought (not to exceed three pages);
  • The objective(s) of each activity, including the need to be addressed;
  • The benefit of the activity to the applicant and to students and other members of the college community;
  • The cost of each activity;
  • Any anticipated funds from other sources.

Submission Deadline

All employees should submit their applications to their supervisors by March 15.

The Professional Development Request Application will be made available to staff during the application timeframe. If you need additional information, contact the Professional Development Committee, or the Office of the Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs.


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