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
Who was Thomas Nelson?
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.