By John Tyler Community College
CHESTER and MIDLOTHIAN, Va. — Enhancing and expanding programs that prepare the workforce of today and tomorrow are at the core of a renovation project that’s about to kick off at John Tyler Community College’s Chester Campus. The college unveiled plans for the project during a ceremonial groundbreaking event on May 18, 2018. The project, scheduled to officially get underway this summer, involves two buildings — Bird Hall, one of the college’s original buildings, and the Nicholas Center.
Once completed, Bird Hall will house the college’s Nursing and EMS/Paramedic programs, allowing faculty and students to share state-of-the-art equipment and participate in collaborative experiences that will mirror real-world interactions. The renovated Bird Hall will also feature three new science labs. The Nicholas Center renovation includes an expansion that will nearly double the building’s current size. The 25,503 square-foot addition will be a new workforce center operated by the Community College Workforce Alliance, the workforce development partnership between John Tyler Community College and Reynolds Community College. In addition to classroom spaces, the new workforce center will feature a large, flexible lab, which can be configured to meet the needs of a wide variety of training programs. The renovated Nicholas Center will also include a large conference room that can be used for workforce training and other activities; new collaborative spaces for Tyler students and the Office of Student Activities; a larger bookstore with a café; and additional general classroom and office space. The Chester Campus renovation project is expected to cost about $34 million and to take about 14 months to complete.
During the groundbreaking ceremony, Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller, president of John Tyler Community College, stressed the importance of understanding the needs of the community and its people and employers when embarking on a project such as the Tyler one is about to launch. “At John Tyler Community College, we say all the time that community is our middle name,” said Dr. Raspiller. “I don’t think anything exemplifies that more than this project.”
Speakers at the ceremony also addressed the important role the Chester Campus project will play in connecting people with jobs. “There are many, many jobs out there that are going unfilled,” said Dr. Glenn DuBois, Chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. “The number of people who want those jobs is at an all-time high, but they can’t get them because they don’t have the right training. John Tyler is going to change that.”
Danielle Fitz-Hugh, president and CEO of the Chesterfield Chamber of Commerce, reiterated the need for skilled workers, especially in the healthcare industry. “Our region has the largest number of employers and access to healthcare, and we need workers to fill those jobs,” said Fitz-Hugh.
Chief Workforce Advisor to the Governor Megan Healy spoke about the important role colleges like Tyler play in supporting the needs of workers and employers. “Every day, I think about the people who need jobs and about the jobs that need people,” said Dr. Healy. “My jobs is to build a bridge that connects them, and I know the concrete of that bridge is the community college system. I’m really excited to see the great work of John Tyler, but I’m even more excited to see the great workers that John Tyler produces.”
The Honorable Kirk Cox, Speaker of Virginia’s House of Delegates, addressed the life-changing impact workforce development opportunities can have. “If you look at the jobs and careers this project will foster and the enhanced pay, there is so much at work here,” said Speaker Cox. “If you can create these kinds of opportunities for people, it goes beyond just a job.”
Following the remarks given by the guest speakers, Dr. Raspiller announced the college’s new workforce center will be named the William H. Talley, III Center for Workforce Development. William H. Talley, III, of Petersburg, is a long-time advocate of John Tyler Community College and Virginia’s community colleges. For nearly 30 years, he has supported the college in a number of ways, serving on the John Tyler Community College Foundation Board and on Tyler’s local College Board, as well as establishing the William H. Talley, III Endowed Scholarship. He also served on the State Board for Community Colleges. He received John Tyler Community College’s Homer C. Eliades Legacy Award in 2004, the Virginia Community College System’s Chancellor Award for Leadership in Philanthropy in 2006, and an honorary degree from Tyler in 2015. After the naming announcement, Talley thanked those in attendance and spoke of his love of John Tyler Community College and Virginia’s community college system.
John Tyler Community College offers more than 60 majors that provide pathways to careers in high-demand fields; transfer opportunities to four-year colleges and universities; and industry credentials and licensures. The college, with campuses in Chester and Midlothian, a Nursing Education Center, online classes and off-campus classrooms, served more than 13,900 students during the 2016–17 academic year. It also assisted nearly 6,000 learners and more than 200 companies and organizations through its workforce development division, Community College Workforce Alliance.