Meet Thomas Nelson Community College's new provost, who wants to increase community partnerships

aheymann@vagazette.com

Thomas Nelson Community College appointed Patrick Tompkins as provost of the Historic Triangle campus on Sept. 25, and said he is planning on expanding the college’s involvement with the community.

“I’m feeling very energized by the new appointment,” Tompkins said.

“We have a great college and the Historic Triangle campus is well positioned to serve the community in Williamsburg, James City County and York.”

Tompkins is well acquainted with the campus, serving as the dean of communications, humanities and social sciences since 2013. He said the faculty is independent, and relationship-building for collaboration is key.

He said he thinks the same approach likely will be needed in the community because the college cannot pass laws and regulations and does not have taxing authorities.

“The way we are going to move forward in the community is by positioning ourselves in the community as a credible resource, developing shared values and visions, and then being that partner with shared solutions,” Tomkins said. “All that is built through relationships and really being able to deliver on what you say you are going to do.”

The first thing Thompkins said he’s going to do is listen to partners in the community such as business organizations, government organizations and nonprofits as to how TNCC can best serve it.

“The No. 1 goal with them is to just listen and try to find out what we can do, Thomas Nelson, to further serve them,” Tompkins said.

After listening to community leaders, Tompkins said he will brainstorm programs and community partnerships Thomas Nelson can implement to move the whole community forward.

One program that likely will have increased resources is dual-enrollment, where high school students take college courses for credit. While historically it has not been well used, Tompkins said TNCC has begun to see an increased interest in the program from parents and school systems.

“Dual-enrollment is really starting to come into the daylight for a variety of reasons,” Tompkins said. “(Parents) are recognizing their children can earn college credits that will defray the cost of the four-year education.”

Tompkins added through dual-enrollment, students can earn a degree or certificate while in high school, which could allow them to enter a four-year institution as a junior or go straight into the workforce.

“We have seen a really good response in Williamsburg-James City County and I would say our relationship has been long-standing but there is room to develop,” Tompkins said. “I just met with Kathy Worley not too long ago, of W-JCC schools, she’s the assistant superintendent, and she was talking to me about their excitement of that growing program and our relationship.”

He said Thomas Nelson also is seeking to expand its workforce professional programs for medical professions, homeland security and technology into high schools.

Tompkins stressed that while the college helps students, it also is a resource to many other organizations and communities. For example, Thomas Nelson offers Literacy for Life with their English language learners program, and can help those interested earn a GED.

“Thomas Nelson can serve (the) community in a variety of capacities,” Tompkins said. “It's our mission. Community is right at the heart of our name.”

Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.

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