TNCC to Recognize Local, State Leaders During May 15 Commencement


Published: May 4, 2010

Thomas Nelson Community College (TNCC) will recognize several government officials and community members for their contributions in education and public service during its 41st commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 15 at 10:00 a.m. at the Hampton University Convocation Center. TNCC President Alvin J. Schexnider will present several new awards, including the Thomas Nelson Medallion and the Dana B. Hamel Award. The President will also present an Honorary Associate Degree to a local business/industry leader and the annual Distinguished Alumni Award.

The Thomas Nelson Medallion was established this year by the TNCC Board. The award is given to outstanding individuals who have made extraordinary contributions toward advancing the mission of Thomas Nelson Community College. The medallion honors citizens who exemplify the spirit and highest ideals of Thomas Nelson – patriot, soldier-statesman and governor. The first recipient of the award is:

  • The Honorable Thomas K. Norment , a native of Williamsburg who attended Virginia Military Institute before returning to Williamsburg to attend the College of William & Mary’s School of Law. In 1987, Senator Norment was elected to the James City County Board of Supervisors serving as Board Chairman in 1991 before being elected to the Senate in Virginia. As a graduate of public schools and the father of a teacher, he has worked to improve funding for K-12 education and to boost teacher salaries. A strong advocate for higher education, he has worked tirelessly to ensure Virginia’s public colleges and universities remain at the top of the national rankings. Locally, Senator Norment has secured increased funding for TNCC including funds to construct and support the Historic Triangle campus.

This year, the College Board also established the Dana B. Hamel Award to honor individuals for their commitment to public service; to fostering access to higher education; and promoting an understanding of the role of workforce development as an essential part of TNCC’s mission. The award is named in honor of Dr. Dana B. Hamel, the first Chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges, and an individual who personifies the attributes associated with this recognition. The College’s first recipients of this award are:

  • The Honorable Jeion A. Ward, a member of the Virginia General Assembly representing the 92nd District in the House of Delegates and serving on the House’s Commerce and Labor, Transportation and General Laws committees. Delegate Ward is a TNCC alumna and has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Christopher Newport University. She is also president of the Hampton Federation of Teachers and has membership in the Hampton NAACP, the National Council of Negro Women, the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Democratic Women’s Club, the Coalition of Labor Union Women and the Hampton Democratic Committee.
  • The Honorable Robin A. Abbott, also a TNCC alumna, was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in November 2009 representing the 93rd District. She is an attorney, a mother of four, and holds degrees from Christopher Newport University and the College of William & Mary. She is a consumer advocate and attorney who has lived in Newport News for over two decades and is a partner in the law firm Consumer Litigation Associates, P.C. with offices in Newport News and Fairfax.
  • Mr. Sanford B. Wanner, the County Administrator for James City County, has a Bachelor’s degree in Education from Trenton State Teachers College and Master’s degree in Public Administration from George Washington University. From 1990 to 1996, Mr. Wanner served as the Assistant County Administrator for James City County, and in April 1996, he became the Acting County Administrator. He was appointed to his current position on August 13, 1996. Mr. Wanner is a member of the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail Authority, Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, Virginia Peninsula Public Service Authority, Peninsula Sports Facility Authority, the Historic Triangle Funders Forum, and the Board of Trustees for the Williamsburg Community Health Foundation. During the last 10 years, he has been Chairman of the First Colony District, Colonial Virginia Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS) awards an Honorary Associate Degree of Humane Letters to acknowledge individuals who have achieved significant success in their personal and public lives; individuals from within the College’s service area who have contributed to the progress and development of the College; and citizens of the Commonwealth who have contributed to the progress and development of the VCCS. An honorary associate degree will be presented this year to:

  • Dr. Robert P. Leber, Director of Education and Workforce Development and head of the Apprentice School and the Sector’s Training Services at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s Newport News operation. Dr. Leber also serves as President of the Newport News Education Foundation and on the National Association of Workforce Boards and Virginia Career Education Foundation. He is a member of the American Society for Training and Development’s Public Policy Council and Commonwealth’s P-16 Education Council. Dr. Leber has a Marine Engineering degree from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, a Liberal Arts degree from the University of Evansville, a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the College of William & Mary, a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University and a Doctoral degree in Strategic Leadership from Regent University.

The College’s Distinguished Alumni Award acknowledges alumni who have displayed outstanding leadership, professional qualities and have made significant contributions to their profession, business and/or community at local, national and/or international levels. This year’s Distinguished Alumni are:

  • Ms. Thomasina R. Wright, Trade Director of the Aircraft Carriers Program at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding’s Newport News location and keynote speaker for TNCC Commencement Exercises this year. She is a resident of Portsmouth, Virginia who earned an Associate of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Technology from Old Dominion University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from the College of William and Mary.
  • Mr. Danny W. Hunley is Vice President of Operation and Trades at Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding in Newport News leading more than 9,000 production and maintenance employees. Additionally, he is responsible for the Newport News labor resource supply chain, all shipyard facilities, manufacturing shops, the Apprentice School and instructional design and training. Mr. Hunley was appointed by Governor Timothy Kaine to serve a four-year term on the State Board for Community Colleges in July 2008.

For more information about TNCC’s May 15 commencement, contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Special Events at 825-2725.

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