The Thomas Nelson Community College Board has scheduled a special meeting for Sept.1 at 5:30 p.m., at which time it is expected to announce its recommendation for a new name. During its Aug. 18 meeting, the board reviewed three names recommended by the College and Facilities Naming Task Force, Harbor Bridge Community College, Two Rivers Community College, and Virginia Peninsula Community College.
The state board controls naming the 23 schools (and their campuses) within Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS). Officials expect the state board to vote on a new name for Thomas Nelson Community College at its next meeting in Richmond Sept. 22-23.
In summer 2020, the state board asked local college advisory boards to review the appropriateness of the names of its college, campuses, and facilities. In February, Thomas Nelson's board voted unanimously to recommend changing the name. Namesake Thomas Nelson Jr. was a Revolutionary War hero, signer of the Declaration of Independence, the fourth governor of Virginia, but also a slaveholder.
The College worked with the firm Brand Federation to develop a list of potential new names. As Kelly O’Keefe of Brand Federation explained in a presentation, all three names work well on many levels, and all have a lot of meaning, and not just literal.
Harbor Bridge ties into the area’s standing as one of the largest natural harbors in the world. The name also is a nod to the numerous bridges in the area, which connect a number of communities. The term “safe harbor” is used in education as a place to grow and learn. Education also serves as a bridge to the future for students, and that bridge can bring together the diverse members of the community.
Two Rivers refers to the James and York rivers, whose boundaries define a large portion of the College’s service area and the Virginia Peninsula. Those two rivers also lead to something bigger – the Chesapeake Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, the world – just as education can lead to something bigger.
As for Virginia Peninsula Community College, that is the main geographic area the College serves. In addition, Thomas Nelson Community College has been marketed as “The Peninsula’s Community College” for several years. So making the tagline the new name works on many levels as well.
Direct questions about the naming process to Vice President for Institutional Advancement Cynthia Callaway at firstname.lastname@example.org or (757) 825-3547.