Poised to retire in December after eight years as president of Thomas Nelson Community College, Dr. John Dever was honored by the Poquoson City Council during its Nov. 12 meeting. The council recognized Dever for his service to the community as leader of the fifth largest institution within Virginia’s Community Colleges (VCCS).
Dr. Dever, a Kentucky native whose career as an educator and administrator spans over 40 years, is Thomas Nelson’s eighth president. He assumed the presidency in October 2011 returning to the place where his higher education career began. From 1975 to 1995, he served as an English professor and division chair for Communications and Humanities at Thomas Nelson then went on to hold increasingly more responsible positions at Tidewater, Blue Ridge and Northern Virginia community colleges.
Poquoson is among the six municipalities Thomas Nelson serves. The city’s residents have benefited greatly from the academic, career training and workforce development programs the College provides. Since fall 2011 through today, 1,464 Poquoson residents have enrolled in credit courses at Thomas Nelson, 220 have graduated from credit courses, and 314 have taken advantage non-credit courses, according to Allan Melton, a member of Thomas Nelson's College Board representing Poquoson.
Also on hand for the City Council's special recognition was College Board Chair Michael Kuhns. He gave an overview of Dever’s distinguished career.
“As a community college administrator, Dr. Dever has pursued research and been involved in major projects dealing with community college transfer, diversity and inclusion, general education, strategic planning, organizational leadership, and distance learning,” stated Kuhns..
"Dr. Dever oversaw the reaccreditation of the College by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, led the development of a new Campus Master Plan to transform the face of the Hampton campus, and obtained funding from the General Assembly to replace the first three buildings on that campus, which are now 50 years old," he added.
Kuhns cited several Thomas Nelson initiatives achieved during Dr. Dever's tenure:
- The Early College program with Newport News Public Schools and expanded dual enrollment offerings supporting the Academies of Hampton Public Schools;
- The commissioning of a study to evaluate the College's economic impact on the Peninsula community – a value that is determined to be over $329 million annually;
- The convening of over 300 area educators and leaders in business and industry to make the case for enhanced career and technical education;
- The SNAP grant program in partnership with the Hampton and Newport News Social Services departments, enabling residents receiving public assistance to earn college and industry credentials and enter the workforce;
- The creation of a partnership with Goodwill Industries of Central and Coastal Virginia to share services and renovated space on Hampton's Saville Row to stand up a Center for Building and Construction Trades;
- The establishment of new and expanded transfer articulation agreements with Old Dominion University, Christopher Newport University, Virginia Wesleyan University and the University of Virginia, among other notable initiatives.
While helming the College, Dr. Dever has remained committed to civic engagement. He serves on the GO Virginia Hampton Roads Regional Council, Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Corporation, WHRO Board of Directors, Virginia Tidewater Consortium for Higher Education, GENEDGE, Riverside Lifelong Health Board, and Greater Peninsula NOW.
Additionally, he has received awards from the Citizens’ Unity Commission of Hampton and the Hampton Roads Community Action Program.