General Information

The College

Thomas Nelson Community College is a two-year institution of higher education established as a part of a statewide system of community colleges. It primarily serves the residents of the cities of Hampton, Newport News, Poquoson, and Williamsburg, and the counties of James City and York. The college operates under policies established by the State Board for Community Colleges and with the guidance of the Thomas Nelson Community College Board. The administration of the college is directly responsible to the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. The college is financed primarily by state funds, supplemented by contributions from the participating localities and the federal government.

The college provides financially accessible, high quality, comprehensive educational programs and services to meet the educational needs of citizens of all ages and to support the economic development of the Commonwealth. To this end, the college offers:

  • associate’s degree programs to prepare individuals for careers as technical and paraprofessional workers;
  • associate’s degree programs to prepare individuals for transfer, as upper-division students, to baccalaureate degree programs at four-year institutions;
  • diploma and certificate programs to prepare individuals for careers as technicians and as skilled and semi-skilled workers;
  • developmental courses to prepare individuals for further instructional programs;
  • student development services to assist individuals with decisions regarding occupational, educational, and personal goals;
  • industrial training programs for new or expanding businesses, industries, and professions;
  • continuing education programs, including credit and non-credit courses, seminars and workshops for individuals who wish to continue or expand their learning experiences; and,
  • cultural and educational opportunities for the community.

Vision Statement

“TNCC will be the preeminent provider of the most technologically prepared and globally conscious individuals in the region.” (adopted 2010)

Mission Statement

“Thomas Nelson Community College changes lives, empowers students to succeed and enhances the social and economic vitality of the region through high quality education and workforce training, excellent service and innovative partnerships.” (adopted 2010)

TNCC Strategic Plan and Annual Goals» General Education at Thomas Nelson» Accreditation and Recognition» History» College Presidents» Who was Thomas Nelson?» Organizational Structure»

Thomas Nelson’s five-year strategic plan, TNCC 2015: Shaping Our Future, outlines the goals, strategies, and priorities necessary for the college to realize preeminence in the region. Developed with broad participation from students, faculty, staff, alumni and community partners, TNCC 2015 will guide the college’s collective efforts to shape the future by finding new, innovative ways to fulfill its mission and foster the vitality of the region. The plan was endorsed by the Local College Board at its April 28, 2010 meeting. To view TNCC 2015: Shaping Our Future at a glance, click here (pdf).

Annual Goals & Outcomes:

Annual Reports:


General education is a required component of all degree programs and selected certificate programs at Thomas Nelson. General education requirements address the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values characteristic of educated persons. They are unbound by disciplines and honor the connections among bodies of knowledge. Thomas Nelson degree graduates will demonstrate competency in the following general education areas:

COMMUNICATION: A competent communicator can interact with others using all forms of communication, resulting in understanding and being understood. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • understand and interpret complex materials;
  • assimilate, organize, develop, and present an idea formally and informally,
  • use standard English;
  • use appropriate verbal and non-verbal responses in interpersonal relations and group discussions;
  • use listening skills;
  • recognize the role of culture in communication.

CRITICAL THINKING: A competent critical thinker evaluates evidence carefully and applies reasoning to decide what to believe and how to act. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • discriminate among degrees of credibility, accuracy, and reliability of inferences drawn from given data;
  • recognize parallels, assumptions, or presuppositions in any given source of information;
  • evaluate the strengths and relevance of arguments on a particular question or issue;
  • weigh evidence and decide if generalizations or conclusions based on the given data are warranted;
  • determine whether certain conclusions or consequences are supported by the information provided,
  • use problem solving skills.

CULTURAL AND SOCIAL UNDERSTANDING: A culturally and socially competent person possesses an awareness, understanding and appreciation of the inter connectedness of the social and cultural dimensions within and across local, regional, state, national, and global communities. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • assess the impact that social institutions have on individuals and culture-past, present and future;
  • describe their own as well as others’ personal ethical systems and values within social institutions;
  • recognize the impact that arts and humanities have upon individuals and cultures;
  • recognize the role of language in social and cultural contexts;
  • recognize the interdependence of distinctive world-wide social, economic, geo-political, and cultural systems.

INFORMATION LITERACY: A person who is competent in information literacy recognizes when information is needed and has the ability to locate, evaluate, and use it effectively. (Adapted from the American Library Association definition.) Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • determine the nature and extent of the information needed;
  • access needed information effectively and efficiently;
  • evaluate information and its sources critically and incorporate selected information into his or her knowledge base;
  • use information effectively, individually or as a member of a group, to accomplish a specific purpose;
  • understand many of the economic, legal, and social issues surrounding the use of information and access and use information ethically and legally.

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT: An individual engaged in personal development strives for physical well-being and emotional maturity. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • develop and/or refine personal wellness goals;
  • develop and/or enhance the knowledge, skills, and understanding to make informed academic, social, personal, career, and interpersonal decisions.

QUANTITATIVE REASONING: A person who is competent in quantitative reasoning possesses the skills and knowledge necessary to apply the use of logic, numbers, and mathematics to deal effectively with common problems and issues. A person who is quantitatively literate can use numerical, geometric, and measurement data and concepts, mathematical skills, and principles of mathematical reasoning to draw logical conclusions and to make well-reasoned decisions. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • use logical and mathematical reasoning within the context of various disciplines;
  • interpret and use mathematical formulas;
  • interpret mathematical models such as graphs, tables and schematics and draw inferences from them;
  • use graphical, symbolic, and numerical methods to analyze, organize, and interpret data;
  • estimate and consider answers to mathematical problems in order to determine reasonableness;
  • represent mathematical information numerically, symbolically and visually using graphs and charts.

SCIENTIFIC REASONING: A person who is competent in scientific reasoning adheres to a self-correcting system of inquiry (the scientific method) and relies on empirical evidence to describe, understand, predict, and control natural phenomena. Graduates will demonstrate the ability to:

  • generate an empirically evidenced and logical argument;
  • distinguish a scientific argument from a non-scientific argument;
  • reason by deduction, induction and analogy;
  • distinguish between causal and correlational relationships;
  • recognize methods of inquiry that lead to scientific knowledge.

Thomas Nelson Community College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award the associate degree.  Contact the Commission on Colleges at 1866 Southern Lane, Decatur, Georgia 30033-4097 or call 404-679-4500 for questions about the accreditation of Thomas Nelson Community College.

The 1966 session of Virginia’s General Assembly in active legislation established a statewide system of comprehensive community colleges. A local committee investigated the need for and feasibility of a community college for the region and requested the State Board for Community Colleges to approve an application to establish Thomas Nelson Community College. A site almost in the population center of the Peninsula area was selected and a local board of advisors was appointed. After the site was purchased by the City of Hampton, construction was begun on the initial phase of four buildings in August 1967, and the cornerstone was laid December 5, 1967. Construction was completed, and 1,232 students began classes on September 20, 1968. Thomas Nelson Community College graduated its first class of students with associate’s degrees on June 13, 1970.

  • October 2011 – Present, Dr. John T. Dever
  • 2009 – October 2011, Dr. Alvin J. Schexnider
  • October 2008 – 2009, Dr. Alvin J. Schexnider, Interim
  • 2004 – 2009, Dr. Charles A. Taylor
  • 2003 – 2004, Dr. Peter A. Spina, Interim
  • 1995 – 2003, Dr. Shirley Robinson Pippins
  • 1994 – 1995, Dr. Richard A. Calver, Interim
  • 1986 – 1994, Dr. Robert G. Templin Jr.
  • 1979 – 1986, Dr. Thomas S. Kubala
  • 1971 – 1979, Dr. Gerald O. Cannon
  • 1967 – 1971, Dr. Thomas V. Jenkins

Thomas Nelson Community College is named in honor of Thomas Nelson, Jr., who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence and an early colonial governor of the Commonwealth. Thomas Nelson, Jr., was a merchant in early Yorktown and served in the Virginia militia during the Revolutionary War. He was very active in leading a segment of the Virginia militia during the siege of Yorktown and the surrender of Cornwallis. During the siege, the story is that one of Nelson’s men approached him with the information that Cornwallis had set up headquarters in the Nelson House. When the soldier asked what should be done, Nelson is said to have responded, “Blow the damn thing down.” Today one of the cannon balls is still lodged in the wall. Thomas Nelson, Jr., spent his fortune to aid the revolutionary cause and died a pauper.

More history of Thomas Nelson…