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A Journey Through the Years

A Summary of
"The Eighties: A Time of Redefinition"

(For complete description of “The Eighties: A Time of Redefinition,” see A Journey Through the Years: A History of New River Community College.)

picture of book

Organizational Changes and Events

Changes in Physical Structure

  • Martin Hall, with its two classrooms, faculty offices, student lounge, bookstore, Learning Resource Center, and new automotive and machine shops, was ready for occupancy at the beginning of the 1980’s. The original library in Godbey Hall had been converted into a business laboratory.

  • Because the College still had only half the room it needed to serve the enrollment at the time, efforts were underway to find funds for a third building for occupational-technical programs.

  • On September 21, 1980, a dedication ceremony was held for the two buildings on campus. Governor John Dalton was featured speaker. The buildings were named Godbey Hall and Martin Hall in honor of the first two board chairmen at the College.

  • In 1984 news came that a $5.5 million building for NRCC was included in Governor Robb’s proposed budget for the 1984-1986 biennium. The approval of a new building meant the possibility of getting rid of eight “temporary” structures that had been used for 12 years.

  • In July 1985 groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the campus’s third building, which would later be named Rooker Hall. This would be the first building on campus to be funded from general appropriations. A total of 45,000 square feet would be added to the campus with the completion of the building.

  • During the mid-1980’s Delegate J. Robert Dobyns and Delegate Danny Bird were active in their efforts to find funding for a fourth building, a Regional Center for Economic Development. Finally in 1987 Delegate Dobyns announced that House and Senate subcommittees had recommended approval of planning money for construction of this regional center.

  • Rooker Hall was dedicated in 1988, with Governor Gerald Baliles and the College’s first president, W. Robert Sullins, in attendance.

  • The College’s new auditorium was dedicated in memory of C. E. Richardson.

Changes in Infrastzructure

  • Budget issues dominated media coverage of NRCC and the rest of the VCCS.

  • In 1982 in-state students saw a 45 increase in tuition rates, with single course charges rising from $32.25 to $46.50; out-of-state students saw an 83 percent rise in tuition.

  • In 1982 the state experienced a shortfall in projected revenue, resulting in a $175,000 cut for NRCC.

  • Citing budget issues as the reason, NRCC President Randall Edwards announced a major restructuring, which would go into effect July 1, 1983.

  • In September 1983 the College hosted a meeting of 250 leaders from business, industry, politics, and education to discuss major issues facing the VCCS as an eighteen-year-old system.

  • The year 1984 saw additional budget cuts, first by 5 percent and then later by an additional 6.5 percent within the VCCS.

  • Computerized registration was implemented during spring of 1984.

  • Ed Barnes, dean of academic and student services, announced that he would leave NRCC to become dean of the Technical College of Alamance in North Carolina.

  • Douglas D. Warren was named the new dean of academic and student services.

  • Even in the midst of declining enrollments, NRCC graduated its largest class in its 15-year history in June 1984.

  • The College celebrated its fifteenth anniversary during October 1984.

  • In January 1985 Governor Robb recommended additional cuts to funding for community colleges; however, by February news came that the General Assembly had restored 70 percent of the proposed funding cuts from allocations to community colleges.

  • In June 1985 a student transfer agreement between NRCC and the public school divisions of the New River Valley was established to give high school drafting and business education students an opportunity to earn credit for selected freshman courses at NRCC.

  • During the 1986-1987 academic year, tuition costs were reduced to $17 per credit.

  • In February 1988, the College received reaffirmation of accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

  • In spring of 1988 Edwards announced that he had accepted an administrative position at George Mason University, where he would assume the duties of administrative vice-president. At George Mason, he would work to strengthen and build the economic “bridge” from Northern Virginia to the New River Valley.

  • Mark. Q. Emick, Sr., was named interim president of the College. Emick came to NRCC from Virginia Western Community College, where he served as assistant to the president.

  • In fall 1988 the VCCS switched from a quarter to a semester schedule.

  • Floyd Hogue became the College’s third president, replacing H. Randall Edwards.

  • NRCC received a U. S. Senate Productivity Award for an LRC project entitled “Employee Involvement and Empowerment at New River Community College.”

  • During the 1989-1990 academic term, the annual unduplicated head count enrollment exceeded 6,000 for the first time in the history of the College.

  • In 1989 it was announced that the fourth building project at NRCC had been placed on the Governor’s Prioritized Capital Projects budget.


  • Even at the beginning of the decade, computer technology was already leading to major changes within curricula at the College. Courses in word processing were developed and offered for the first time using the Lanier No-Problem Typewriter. Other programs, including electronics, machine technology, automotive technology, were integrating computer technology into their programs.

  • During the 1980-1981 academic year, the College obtained approval from the state Board of Nursing for an associate degree nursing program, which would begin in September 1981. Eighteen students finished the first year of the program before they went on to Wytheville Community College for their second year.

  • NRCC became the first community college to offer a certificate in forensic science.

  • For the 1981-1982 and 1982-1983 academic terms, new offerings in the curriculum included sociology of aging, the plays of Shakespeare, and introductory course in world religions, an evening seminar on math and science concepts which were common to the new technologies, and a six-credit arc welding course.

  • Curriculum advisory committees were established to ensure that the College’s curricula addressed existing and future needs of business and industry.

  • In fall of 1984, the College added a two-year program in data processing.

  • During the 1985 fall quarter, the College began an honors program. The honors option was available in English composition, American history, biology, college  mathematics, and American literature.

  • In 1987 a two-year program in interpreting for the deaf/sign communications was offered. During the same year, NRCC became the first college in Virginia to offer a career studies certificate program in hazardous materials.

  • In 1988 three low-productivity programs were discontinued, including educational services, industrial production and safety technology, and vehicle and equipment technology programs.

  • Throughout the decade, the number of industrial training programs grew rapidly.

  • New trends in instructional delivery included competency-based education and distance education through telecourses, teleconferences, and media-based independent learning course.

  • In 1989 dual enrollment courses were offered for seniors in advanced placement English and government classes in order that they could earn both high school and college credit.

Continuing Education

  • The Office of Continuing Education entered the 1980’s ranking third in the state for enrollment in noncredit programs. During the 1980-1981 academic term, the office offered 115 sections of 50 separate noncredit courses, serving more than 6,411 individuals in 15 different locations throughout the New River Valley.

  • In 1982 seminars were offered to help businesses cope with role changes that were resulting from new office technologies.

  • In 1984 workshops were sponsored for women interested in production-line employment within industries.

  • Special events coordinated by the Office of Continuing Education included a poetry contest for senior citizens, a folk life week for children, a dream seminar, a workshop on geriatric suicide, as well as courses on wood stove design, handguns for women, karate, and bass fishing. The office also sponsored a trip to the 1982 World’s Fair.

Special Programs and Services

  • At the beginning of the 1980’s NRCC was one of only two institutions in Virginia and 60 in the country with programs for the hearing impaired.

  • The Career Development Center added a computerized guide, called DISCOVER, which allowed students to review updated career information.

  • The 1980’s saw the establishment of a Center for the Learning Disabled, a Model Women’s Program in Nontraditonal Careers, a regional center for displaced homemakers, and another program for women in five technical curricula.

  • For several years during the 1980’s, the College offered CETA funded on-the-job training and summer youth employment programs.

  • Bobbie White set aside an area within NRCC’s Learning Resource Center for a New River Valley archive collection.

  • During the latter part of the decade, the College was part of several collaborative efforts. It joined six other Virginia community colleges in sponsoring a job fair. Then in 1988 NRCC and Radford University received funds from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia to jointly sponsor a Minority Academic Incentive Program. In the same year, the College joined several agencies in the New River Valley to help ensure skills training for 173 dislocated workers from the AT&T plant in Fairlawn and the Lee Company in Pulaski.

  • Throughout the 1980’s the College maintained a focus on economic development, with the College maintaining its own Center for Training and Development, composed of business and industry leaders. It was also an active member of a three-year pilot technology transfer program, a joint effort between the Virginia Community College System and the Virginia Center for Innovative Technology.

  • In collaboration with Pulaski County High School’s APPALKIDS, the NRCC Appalachian Awareness Committee and the office of Continuing Education sponsored an annual observance of Appalachian culture, bringing local and nationally acclaimed scholars and performers to the college community.

  • With funding from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy, the College hosted a series of lectures and discussions on the “New Woman of the South.”

  • The decade also saw the beginning of two campus organizations, the Ambassadors Club and an alumni association.

NRCC Educational Foundation

  • During the first years of the 1980’s, the NRCC Educational Foundation was established. By fall of 1981, the College had launched a charter member fund drive with a goal of $100,000. The year-long drive began with “A Stroll Down Broadway” and ended with a Renaissance Garden Ball.

  • Some of the earlier contributions came to the NRCC Foundation from the C. E. Richardson Benevolent Foundation, the Allied Corporation, and memorial contributions.

  • In 1983 the Foundation sponsored a day of festivities called “Wild, Wonderful Wednesday,” in addition to a harvest ball to raise additional funds.

  • By early 1984, the Foundation had received donations valued at $600,000.

  • During spring of 1984, the College Relations Office and student volunteers began its annual alumni phonathon to raise money for scholarships awarded by the College.

  • By spring of 1986, the Foundation had approximately $320,000 in liquid assets and approximately $500,000 in gifts of equipment. In addition, the list of endowed scholarships began to grow.

  • By fall 1986, the Foundation began to award student scholarships. By the 1987- 1988 academic year, 19 full-tuition scholarships had been awarded to students attending New River.

Faculty/Staff News

  • The 1980’s saw the hiring of 30 percent of the faculty and staff who were employed full-time during the 2001-001 academic year when A Journey Through the Years: A History of New River Community College was being compiled.

  • The 1980’s were marked by sadness concerning the deaths of two NRCC employees, Patricia Goad and T. J. Anderson. Goad worked for more than six years in the data processing department. Anderson was director of student affairs.

  • Changes in personnel and positions during 1983 included the appointment of J. Doyle Lyons to the position of coordinator of information services; of Peggy R. Dalton to secretary to the chairman of the Division of Arts and Sciences; of Brenda H. Jones to secretary to the chairman of the Division of Technologies; Bettie S. McMillan, to information processing specialist; and Phyllis M. Anderson to cashier in the business office.

  • In 1985 Helen M. Harvey was named chair of the Division of Technologies.

  • In 1986 Lucy J. Prillaman was named coordinator of the Center for the Hearing   Impaired at NRCC.

  • Special recognition was given during the 1980’s to Ken Long, assistant professor of economics, for the publication of Introduction to Economics; to Ernie Garter, an employee in the Office of Buildings and Grounds, for his construction of a device to help an NRCC student overcome academic barriers posed by retinitis pigmentoso; to Jeffrey Bartkovich, director of learning resources, for his 1982-1983 award for outstanding dissertation of the year; and to Arthur G. Rupard, Jr., retired professor of electronics, who was named professor emeritus at NRCC.

  • The NRCC College Relations Office won a merit award in the 1984 National Honors Recognition Program sponsored by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education.

  • In 1985 the NRCC Support Staff Assembly initiated an outstanding employee award. Recipients of this award included Sara Olsen, Debra Bond, Evelyn Richards, Donald Lee Oliver, and Judy Ratcliff.

  • Members of the LRC staff received a Community College Association for Instruction and Technology award for video production, in addition to a Senate Productivity Award. In addition, the photographs of Eric Brady were selected for display at the Fine Arts Center in Pulaski.

  • A. William Claussen was awarded a national Endowment for the Humanities stipend to study twentieth century American architecture at Columbia University.

  • During spring 1988 the NRCC Educational Foundation sponsored three faculty sabbaticals. Anne Folsom, Roger Adkins, and Joe Cochran were granted one- semester sabbaticals for professional research.

  • In 1989 Ronald R. Dodson was awarded the Virginia Community College Chancellor’s Fellowship.

Student Accomplishments

  • From the beginning of the 1980’s to the end of the decade, NRCC’s Phi Beta Lambda chapter continued its record of recognition at state and national conferences.

  • Early in the decade, NRCC’s Phi Theta Kappa Society established a scholarship for one quarter’s tuition for a deserving recipient.

  • Fifty-seven Hercules supervisors at Radford Army Ammunition Plant graduated from a 26-credit hour training program. A similar program was held for Electro-Tec in Blacksburg.

  • The accomplishments of three NRCC students were featured in local newspapers. These students included Scott Long, Sabrina Conner, and Tony Duran-Ballen.

  • The decade ended with a special gift to the campus from a student-sponsored fund raiser. Students raised $1,741 to purchase three concrete patio tables with benches. These were placed on the patio between Martin and Rooker Halls.

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