History of the College
During the 1964 session, the General Assembly of Virginia passed legislation providing for the establishment of two-year technical colleges in the Commonwealth. The plan called for a partnership between the state and the local cities and counties sponsoring a technical college in their region.
Accordingly, on January 27, 1965, under the regional leadership of the Appomattox Basin Industrial Development Corporation, three cities (Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg) and five counties (Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George and Sussex) submitted jointly an application to the newly-created State Department of Technical Education requesting assistance in the establishment of a technical college in the region. Later, the counties of Amelia and Surry joined in sponsoring the proposed college.
The State Department of Technical Education approved the application and on
September 3, 1965, the College Board of Trustees met for the first time. One of its first decisions was to use the name of the tenth president of the United States in designating the College; John Tyler was a native of the region to be served by the College. A question concerning its location was resolved when Harold T. Goyne, Sr., generously gave the new college its campus.
A little under a year later, architectural plans had been developed, and on June 12, 1966, a surveyor drove a stake into the ground at what was to be the northwest corner of Goyne Hall.
Changes were in store for the fledgling College. On July 1, 1966, two weeks after construction began, the purposes of the College were expanded by action of the General Assembly to include not only technical education but also adult education and freshman and sophomore courses for transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
After construction, the College had three main buildings: Goyne Hall, the administrative building; Bird Hall, the main instruction building; and Godwin Hall, the engineering technology building. John Tyler Community College began classes on October 2, 1967, with 1,231 students and 85 faculty members. Most students at the time were enrolled in programs that prepared students for careers upon graduation.
Two days after classes began, the College held an opening ceremony, at which Mills E. Godwin, Jr., governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, formally dedicated the new College.
By the close of the second year of operations, the College had served 2,733 persons in credit courses and approximately 1,000 others in non-credit programs. At the first formal graduation exercises on June 14, 1969, degrees and certificates were awarded to 61 students.
Only six years after opening, in the spring of 1973, construction was begun in an effort to meet the increasing needs of the service area. The two-year project approximately doubled the facilities of the College. The new additions to the campus included an extension of the engineering technology laboratories and classrooms in Godwin Hall and Moyar Hall, a new two-story "Learning Resources" building that housed the library, audio-visual facilities, classrooms, laboratories and student services administrative offices.
Even the expansion did not prove to meet all of the increasing needs in the service region. To further serve the public, the College opened an annex at Fort Lee in 1980 and a Midlothian Outreach Office in August of 1981.
Twelve to 20 classes were offered annually over the next three years at Midlothian High School (the current middle school), Swift Creek Middle School, Winfree Baptist Church, St. Edward's Catholic Church, the Midlothian Branch of the Chesterfield Library System and the Brandermill Community Center. Then, in 1984, an arrangement with Chesterfield County Schools permitted the College to offer classes at the Watkins Annex.
Twenty years after JTCC began educating the community, during the 1987-88 academic year, JTCC served 9,617 credit and 1,555 non-credit students for a total of 11,172 individuals.
In 1988, the College experienced two major changes. The first was that the Midlothian location of the College moved to the Featherstone Professional Center, an office complex situated on Huguenot Road. This would be its home for 12 years, before a permanent campus would be constructed.
The second major event was a fire at the Chester Campus that took place on
December 12, 1988. Bird Hall was severely damaged, and a total of 14 classrooms, nine or 10 faculty offices, the student lounge, bookstore and reprographics department were destroyed. The College picked up the pieces and continued serving the community by moving classes and offices to mobile units that were set up in the parking lot.
Tragedy did not stop the College from continuing to grow. Enrollment increases at the Featherstone location caused the College to use all of the available space at the complex, and on September 17, 1991, the Featherstone site gained campus designation within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). At this point and time, the Featherstone site was larger than 10 other VCCS campuses. Because of these factors, it became clear that a permanent campus in Midlothian was justified.
However, existing policy dictated that land for community college campuses had to be donated and not acquired through purchase. So, in 1991, the College and the Louis Reynolds Marital Trust began discussing the possibility of the Trust providing land. After two and one-half years of negotiation, an agreement was signed on February 23, 1994, that provided 126 acres for a permanent site.
As the Midlothian Campus became more of a reality, the Chester Campus continued to expand. In 1993, the Nicholas Student Center was opened. This new building housed the student lounge, bookstore, cafeteria, classrooms and a large multi-purpose room.
Over the next few years, JTCC would be heavily involved in securing funds from the General Assembly, choosing an architect firm and working with a construction company to build the new Midlothian Campus.
The Midlothian Campus opened for summer classes in 2000, and was dedicated on October 3, 2000. The Campus then consisted of three buildings: an administration building, an academic building and a warehouse/physical plant facility. The academic building housed the library, 12 classrooms, two-tiered lecture halls, four science laboratories, four computer laboratories, a compressed video classroom and 32 faculty offices.
In October 2007, the College broke ground on a second academic building at Midlothian. The building, referred to at the time as the Science Building, houses the library, more classroom space and faculty offices, all of which helped alleviate crowded conditions at the College. In July 2010, the project received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition.
During the 2012 Commencement Ceremony, Dr. Marshall W. Smith made a surprise announcement that the academic buildings on the Midlothian Campus would be renamed. Hamel Hall, formerly known as the Science Building, was named in honor of Dr. Dana Hamel, the first chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. Eliades Hall, formerly known as the Academic Building, was named in honor of Mr. Homer Eliades, a member of the founding College Board of John Tyler Community College and a founding member of the John Tyler Community College Foundation Board, who, at the time, had given 45 years of uninterrupted service to the College.
In 2013, construction of Phase III at Midlothian was approved by the General Assembly. Plans included a new 70,000-square-foot building and a parking garage, which became known as the T Building. The T Building includes specialized instructional spaces, including a fitness classroom, a dance/performance classroom, an engineering classroom, and a music classroom complete with practice rooms. The auditorium/theatre complex features a green room, dressing rooms, an area for set creation, and a box office. Finally, the T Building features a new area devoted to student services, such as counseling, career resources and testing, as well as faculty offices, an instructional technology area and a small cafe. The T Building opened in January 2016.
In 2018, a major construction project began on the Chester Campus. The project included the renovation of Bird Hall, the renovation of the Nicholas Center, and the addition of a new 25,503-square-foot workforce center. Bird Hall reopened for classes in August 2019 and became home to the college's nursing and EMS/paramedic programs. The Nicholas Center and new William H. Talley, III Center for Workforce Center opened in December 2019.
Since 1964, John Tyler Community College has grown with the community, and the College will continue to expand and grow to meet the community’s ever-increasing needs.
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Holly Walker, Public Relations Manager