Community College Month: “No Dream Is Too Big”
by Dr. Linda Thomas-Glover
In the 1950’s and 60’s, the residents of the Eastern Shore had a desire for an institution of higher education to provide quality postsecondary education and training to residents here on the Shore. In 1971 that dream became a reality when the Eastern Shore Community College was founded. Originally known as the Eastern Shore Branch of the School of Continuing Studies of the University of Virginia, located near NASA Wallops, on July 1, 1971 ESCC became a part of the Virginia Community College System. With support of local legislators and residents, land was purchased and a facility was built in Melfa to house the students, faculty, and staff of the institution. The original Academic and Administration building opened in the fall of 1974 and it would be another 35 years before an additional building, designed to expand workforce training capacity, would open in 2009. The Workforce Development Center has been a wonderful asset to the college and the community and houses the some of the latest in instructional and training technology as seen in the quality of instructional technology utilized by the nursing program.
However, the need to “modernize” the original building did not go unnoticed by college administration, VCCS staff, and local legislators and has been a dream for those associated with the college for years. Several years ago, the possibility of renovation of the facility was explored and the cost effectiveness of such a process revealed that it was a better use of resources to construct a new building rather than renovate. And so we come to where we are today: seeing the dream of a replacement of the original 1974 Academic/Administration building become a reality.
ESCC faculty and staff have worked with architects to capture those essential components needed to ensure quality instruction and academic and support services for students. The new two-story facility will house a consolidated student services center, which will allow students to experience a true “one stop shop” for admissions, counseling, advising, access to financial aid and job placement services, as well as testing and tutorial services.
Classrooms will be equipped with the latest technology to support faculty and students in the teaching and learning processes. Technical program areas such as information technology, welding, industrial technology, and electronics will be equipped with the most current equipment and training resources, ensuring that ESCC graduates are exposed to modern technology. The facility will also house our new Technical Program Innovations Lab which is designed to allow for flexible access to a variety of trainers to support the ever changing and expanding demands of those seeking technical careers.
In keeping with technology trends in library resources, the new Learning Resources Center will have traditional paper resources but will also have expanded access to digital books, online data bases for research purposes, and several private study rooms which can serve as sites for small group interactions and online testing sites for students in online classes.
Students will still have access to a Student Center that will allow student organizations such as Student Government Association (SGA) and Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) National Honor Society to have a “home” and plan for their activities. While our primary focus is on students and access to quality learning experiences, we have also been mindful of how the community looks to ESCC as a resource for various community functions and thus have ensured spaces with the flexibility to accommodate some community functions as well as instructional needs.
The fulfillment of this dream could not have come into existence without the support of many, including the members of the ESCC College and Foundation Boards, our local Boards of Supervisors which provided financial support for the necessary site work for the facility, as well as the numerous private citizens and businesses on the Shore who have made donations and pledges of financial support of the college’s Major Gifts Campaign over the past 18-24 months.
And so we say “We are ready to live this dream as our new reality” and we thank each of you for your support and invite you to be a part of the next phase of this process – our upcoming ground breaking ceremony.
A rendering of the new main building on campus at ESCC.