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A Journey Through the Years

A Summary of
“The Nineties: A Time of Expansion”

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

Photo of book

     The 1990’s will be remembered not only as a decade of dynamic growth and activity but also as a time of stability. It was a time of growth in technology, of curriculum revision, of increased emphasis on planning and assessment, of support of economic and community development, and of collaboration with other educational and community agencies. It was also a time when the College’s programs, services, and personnel received validation through numerous awards and recognition from the rest of the country.

College News

  • At the beginning of the decade, the College was continuing to feel the effects of cuts in state funding because of a faltering state economy. NRCC responded to a $625,000 state budget reduction by combining classes and using more adjunct faculty. NRCC president Floyd Hogue announced a freeze on the hiring of full-time faculty, as well as on the purchase of new instructional equipment. All overtime pay was eliminated.

  • During the 1990 fall semester, enrollment exceeded 4,000 for the first time in the history of the College.

  • Beginning fall 1990 Virginia’s community colleges saw their first major tuition increase in five years.

  • In a study by the University of Wisconsin, NRCC’s program for the learning disabled was named as one of eight outstanding programs of its type in the country.

  • The College became one of 10 colleges in the southeastern United States selected to participate in a project on “Advancing the Humanities,” which was sponsored by the American Association of Community and Junior Colleges.

  • NRCC’s Learning Resource Center was selected among the top 60 learning resource programs in the nation.

  • NRCC received one of two 1990-1991 Excellence in Education awards given to Virginia community colleges. The award was given for the College’s tutoring and note taking program.

  • The College’s student population included six Turkish engineers who were training to become technical instructors. They came to NRCC to study the College’s instrumentation technology program.

  • Miscellaneous Ink, the College’s first journal of literature and art, was published to display the creative talents of students and community.

  • The NRCC Plaza I Center at the University Mall in Blacksburg opened to provide computer training to Virginia Tech employees and area business and industry personnel during the daytime. On nights and Saturday mornings, classes were open to the general public.

    • In April 1991, community representatives joined faculty and staff in a special day-long planning session. The “charrette” was the culmination of months of research and planning for the future of the College.

  • The president’s staff developed a “vision,” a college master plan, and a strategic planning process to guide the College.

  • In May 1991, NRCC president Floyd Hogue accepted the position of president of Mission College in Santa Clara, California. Jack M. Lewis, dean of management services, was appointed interim president.

  • It was announced in October 1991 that Edwin L. Barnes would return to NRCC as the College’s fourth president.

  • An access road to the College from Route 11 was completed during spring of 1992.

    • A 17 percent tuition rate increase took effect during the 1992 summer session.

  • In 1992, the College was one of two community colleges in the country to be recognized for its services to students with disabilities.

  • The College received a Title III grant of approximately $600,000 over a three-year time span beginning in 1992.

  • The College was also awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a four-week summer study institute during the summer of 1993.

  • NRCC again enjoyed national attention when it was announced that the Learning Achievement Program for the Learning Disabled had been selected for recognition as one of five national exemplary programs by the National Center for Research in Vocational Education.

  • During the May 1993 graduation ceremonies, retired professors William J. Dawson and Marvin P. Long were awarded the title of professor emeritus.

  • On May 14, 1993, ground-breaking ceremonies were held for the New River Valley Regional Economic Development Center. College and community officials had waited for funding for the fourth building at NRCC since 1987. The new building was named Edwards Hall in honor of the College’s former president.

  • A five-year restructuring plan was instituted in 1994. Instructional programs and services were realigned into four academic divisions, and continuing education was integrated into each of the four academic divisions.

  • During February and March of 1994, the trees on the campus received extensive damage from three major ice storms.

  • On January 25, 1994, NRCC President Edwin L. Barnes and Radford University President Donald N. Dedmon signed a transfer agreement between the two institutions to help ensure NRCC students’ easier transfer to Radford University.

  • During fall 1994, the College held its first live teleconference to all 34 campuses within the VCCS.

  • On August 22, 1995, NRCC opened a satellite class building in Christiansburg.

  • By 1995, the College had seen 1,372 students enrolled in courses using telecommunications technology. The College was also using compressed video to broadcast classes to its Christiansburg site.

  • The 1990’s saw increased activity in providing training for business and industry. One of the Division of Industrial Technologies’ special projects toward the end of the decade was WorkKeys, an assessment process designed to help identify specific employability skills.

  • The College’s dean of management services, along with members of the computing services staff, created NETSPACE, a software program designed to expedite the development of the strategic budget by providing the means to enter budget requests. By fall 1996, this program was accessible to all employees at their workstations.

  • As a complement to the College’s strategic planning process and as a way to comply with VCCS and SCHEV mandates, a formal program review process was implemented at the college. This process required faculty and division chairs to conduct program reviews on a five-year cycle which was coordinated with assessment cycles.

  • Toward the last years of the 1990’s, attention focused on the need for a proposed magnet school, which would provide technical training for secondary students and others in the New River Valley. By April 1999 the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School announced its support of the proposed Magnet School of Technology, and the 1999 legislature appropriated $100,000 in planning money. Even though the magnet school had offered classes during fall 1998 for nine high school students and 68 NRCC students, who were enrolled in the first level of a course provided through Cisco Systems, that number rose to 157 in fall 1999. William Asbury, retiring superintendent of Pulaski County Schools, was selected as coordinator of the magnet school.

  • During the last half of the 1990’s, much emphasis and thousands of hours were devoted to the Institutional Self-Study report prepared for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The report was coordinated by Self-Study Director Elaine Scott. In April 1997 accreditation was reaffirmed with the College’s receiving only three recommendations from the SACS visiting team.

  • In 1998, NRCC’s Early Learning Center was granted accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

  • Effective fall 1999, tuition for Virginia residents was reduced to $37.12 per credit hour, compared with the previous rate of $46.65.

  • It was announced in November 1999 that Jack M. Lewis would become the College’s fifth president.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • At the beginning the decade, NRCC instituted an instructor-initiated withdrawal policy allowing faculty to withdraw students who missed a significant number of classes.

  • A new program in paralegal assisting was added to the College’s offerings.

  • The College received funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help purchase equipment for a new training program in tool-and-die making.

  • In July 1990, the library catalog system in NRCC’s Learning Resource Center was officially retired when a computerized catalog became the primary of accessing information about the library collection.

  • Collaboration between NRCC and Toyota resulted in the College’s becoming a regional training center. Students who successfully completed the program would be certified to provide service for Toyota automobiles.

  • In 1992, the College’s automotive technology department received the highest level of achievement recognized by the National Institute for Automotive Services Excellence.

  • Because accreditation had become contingent upon adhering to assessment guidelines by SACS and SCHEV, great emphasis was placed on the assessment of NRCC’s programs. In 1993 Marian Lockard was named assessment coordinator for NRCC.

  • In May 1994, NRCC and Old Dominion University (ODU) collaborated to give students an opportunity to obtain a bachelor’s degree without traveling to the ODU campus. Students enrolling in this program, called TELETECNET, would complete their first two years at NRCC, with the remaining course work to be offered by Old Dominion University via interactive audio and video technologies, as well as through on-site classes or laboratories.

  • In late 1994, the College received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to design and implement, effective fall 1995, a fiber optics communication and laser instructional specialty within its electronics two-year associate degree program.

  • To meet the demand for courses in computer technology, the computer information systems department developed two new majors: a computer technology specialization and computer application specialization.

  • By fall semester 1996, twelve classrooms became “electronic” classrooms. Each classroom contained a specially designed instructor podium, which housed a Pentium 133 MHZ multimedia Windows 95-based computer, a VCR, a Scan converter, and a visual document camera/visual presenter. Installed in each electronic classroom was a television monitor. Some classrooms also contained a video/data projector.

  • During 1997, NRCC began offering courses which could be applied toward a degree in gerontology. Other new options included a bachelor’s degree in occupational and technical studies through NRCC and Old Dominion University. ODU also began a professional public management certificate on the NRCC campus.

  • In 1998, NRCC, in partnership with Charlotte Diesel Driving School, Inc., began a training program to qualify tractor-trailer drivers for United States Department of Transportation certification. In another collaborative effort, thirteen Floyd County High School students received both high school and college credit for a new welding course.

  • By the end of the 1990’s, the College had developed a two-year associate degree program in engineering as a result of an articulation agreement with Virginia Tech.

  • NRCC joined with Old Dominion University to offer nursing education via distance learning.

  • During the December 1999 college board meeting, five new programs were approved: 3D animation specialization (CADD program), 3D solid modeling specialization (CADD program), computer software applications career studies certificate (workforce development), desktop software development certificate (IST program), internet programming specialization (IST program), and legal assisting (AAS).

Special Programs and Services

  • Several of the special events held during 1990 were made possible through outside funding, including a grant from SCHEV’s Virginia Student Retention Program. In addition, funds from the Virginia Department of Education allowed the College to continue its Technology Program for Women and the Center for Single Parents and Displaced Homemakers. Other grant-funded programs included (a) training for individuals aged 18-21 who were enrolled in a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning program, (b) long-term classroom training for ADC recipients, (c) special support services, including counseling and tutoring, for students, (d) training for interpreters for the deaf, (e) retraining for dislocated workers who were not eligible for assistance through the Trade Readjustment Act, and (f) a basic skills training program for employees of the Hoechst-Celanese plant.

  • Appalachian Awareness Week celebrations continued, offering concerts by local musicians and by major recording artists, along with lectures, storytelling, a festival day, and writing and art competitions.

  • In April 1991, the College sponsored the annual Virginia Humanities Conference.

  • Also in 1991, NRCC held a forum on “Equality and the Due Process of the Fourteenth Amendment,” which explored the history of the Fourteenth Amendment and the impact it had on the lives of women, blacks, and other minorities, particularly in Virginia.

  • During late 1991, Charlie White organized the New River Valley Fiddle and Banjo Club.

  • In 1993 the College became a regional GED testing center.

  • In early 1994, a Kurzweil Reading Station, an optical scanner which converts typewritten text into oral speech, was installed on the NRCC campus to assist dyslexic, blind, or visually impaired students.

  • Special events during 1995 included a Disability Awareness Day, a regional science fair co-sponsored by the Southwest Virginia Governor’s School, and a series of workshops for independent business owners. The workshop was sponsored by the NRCC Center for Training and Development.

  • During 1996, special programs and services included a Real World Day, co-sponsored by NRCC and the Southwest Virginia Transition Center at Virginia Tech, a Veterans Day ceremony, and the opening of a transition center for dislocated workers.

  • In 1997, the Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing hosted a teleconference on issues that colleges and universities face as they deal with the deaf or hard of hearing. During the same year, the College sponsored a summer institute on learning styles.

  • Other events during 1997 included a ceremony on campus to honor prisoners of war and individuals who were missing in action.

  • During early 1998, a dance was held on the NRCC campus to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Old Pros big band orchestra.

  • Also during 1998, a series of programs focused on “The Changing Face of Africa.”

  • Toward the end of the 1990’s, the NRCC Writing Center collaborated with the Manufacturing Technology Center based at Wytheville Community College to offer services to local businesses and industries through a mobile learning unit.

  • At the end of the decade, the College helped the New River Valley prepare for the approach of the new millennium—and subsequent computer glitches related to the date change—with a seminar on preparing for Y2K.

NRCC Foundation

  • The NRCC Foundation awarded 55 scholarships during 1991-1992.

  • During 1992-1993, the Foundation’s assets reached $1 million.

  • In 1997, in celebration of the fifteenth anniversary of the NRCC Foundation, five individuals were honored for their “leadership and acts of friendship” to the College. J. Robert Dobyns, H. W. Huff, Jr., and Odell Mayberry were presented the NRCC Amicus Fidelis Medallion award. The award was also bestowed posthumously upon the late Alex H. Harman, Jr., and Daniel J. Rooker.

  • By the end of the decade, the total assets of the NRCC Educational Foundation had exceeded the $3 million mark.

Faculty and Staff News

New Personnel

  • The decade saw the arrival of forty-four faculty and staff who were still employed full-time during the 2001-2002 academic year when A Journey Through the Years: A History of New River Community College was compiled.

Reassignments and Retirements

  • In 1990, Debbie Lineweaver was named training specialist in the Office of Continuing Education.

  • Also in 1990, Rhonda G. Dotson was hired as the College’s recruiter, replacing Sandra Cook. When Dotson left the College in 1992, Marc Watson assumed her duties as NRCC recruiter.

  • At the end of 1991, William J. Dawson, professor of humanities and social sciences, announced plans to retire. Other retirements included those of A. W. Claussen, Jacqueline J. Cregger, Melvin G. Mabry, Owen C. McKinnie, Evelyn Richards, Doris Semones, and Graham Simmerman.

  • In 1993, after serving for six years as office services specialist and adjunct faculty member, Candy Mady was named manager of the NRCC Plaza One Blacksburg site.

  • Also in 1993, Marfesa Clark became regional adult education specialist/program planner at the College.

  • The year 1994 saw the retirement of William R. Munzing, who was hired in 1969 to oversee the construction of the campus’s first building.

  • In 1994, Roger Adkins was named coordinator of a new training and retraining program at Volvo-GM Heavy Truck Corporation.

  • Douglas D. Warren announced plans to retire at the end of June 1996.

  • At the end of the decade, Loretta F. Hall was named the College’s Tech Prep coordinator.

  • Ed Barnes announced his plans to retire at the end of the 1999 calendar year. Barnes had served as the College’s president since December 1, 1991.


  • At the beginning of the decade, Mark Rowh published Coping with Stress in College. A short time later he published Winning Government Grants and Contracts for Your Small Business.

  • Irene Barr and Lewis Martin were awarded one-semester faculty sabbaticals.

  • In April 1990, NRCC photographer Eric Brady received a second place award in the color photography category of the Paragon Awards.

  • In 1991, Dorothy Talbott, NRCC retiree, was named Miss National Senior Citizen.

  • In 1993, Jose Melendez was recognized for his involvement in a video designed to promote a VCCS bond referendum. The video received a first-place award at the Association for Educational Communications and Technology annual meeting in New Orleans.

  • In 1994,Martha Bolt became the first NRCC graduate, and the first woman, to be appointed chairperson of the NRCC College Board.

  • In 1994, Eric Brady received a certificate of achievement as a blue ribbon finalist in the Eighth Annual Community College Association for Instruction and Technology video competition.

  • In 1994, Thomas W. Wilkinson was presented an award for the Most Significant Advancement in Distance Learning by an Individual in Continuing Education.

  • Aileen Fletcher’s hand colored photographs were chosen for an exhibit by Roanoke College.

  • Individuals honored during 1996 commencement exercises were Douglas D. Warren, who was awarded title of dean emeritus, and Dorothy Talbott and Bonita Leathers, who received the title of faculty emeritus.

  • In 1997, Mir S. Shirvani was one of three faculty in the VCCS to be selected to participate in a ten-week program to provide on-site research support to the NASA Langley Research and Technology Operations Group and the Fabrication Division.

  • During the College’s twenty-ninth annual commencement, Margaret L. Smith and Melvin G. Mabry were awarded the title of faculty emeritus.

  • Outstanding support staff awards were given to Peggy M. Atkins in 1990, Christy Pugh Simpkins in 1991, Joyce K. Taylor in 1992, Eric Brady in 1993, Peggy Galloway in 1994, Katherine K. Clark in 1995, Terri H. Shelburne in 1996, Bridget Franklin in 1997, Peggy R. Dalton in 1998, and Hilda M. Haga in 1999.

  • Beginning in 1999 an outstanding part-time support staff member was selected. Glenda Lindstrom was the first individual to receive this honor.

Student News

  • The NRCC licensed practical nursing program celebrated its thirtieth anniversary with a reunion for all LPN graduates of NRCC’s and Vo-Tech’s practical nursing program during April 1991.

  • The photograph of NRCC graduate Kenneth Hampton was displayed across the state on a Virginia Community College poster disseminated to promote community college week.

  • Following the College’s adoption of an office paper recycling project in 1990, students in the Student Support Services orientation classes initiated their own campus clean-up and recycling program.

  • Throughout the 1990’s, NRCC Phi Beta Lambda students continued their long tradition of receiving awards at state and national conferences.

  • In 1992, nine NRCC students earned awards in Vocational Industrial Clubs of America competition.

  • In 1994, a graduate of NRCC’s automotive analysis and repair program, placed first in the state VICA competition.

  • During the 1996-1997 academic year, Gail White and Tracy Gann became the first women to graduate from the automotive technology program.

  • In May 1998, Jennifer Normansell became the first NRCC student to complete all course work for an associate degree by independent study. By the end of the decade, Jason Vaughn had become the first graduate to become certified in networking by passing a demanding national examination.

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