Posted on Wednesday, July 16, 2014


The blast from the past echoed for more than 500 years when presidents gathered to celebrate John J. Cavan’s retirement from Southside Virginia Community College after 31 years.

Past and present presidents pictured above represent 323 years of service as presidents at a Virginia Community College — and a total of 544 years of service to the VCCS.

Cavan (above, holding basketball), president at Southside from 1983 to 2014, was joined by a number of retired colleagues – including Dr. George Vaughan, who served as one of the earliest presidents, from 1971-1977 at Mountain Empire, then from 1977-1989 at Piedmont. Vaughan (second from left in front row next to Chancellor DuBois) incidentally authored and edited one of the only history books about the creation of the Virginia Community College System – Pursuing the American Dream – published in 1987.

Among the longest serving presidents above include Max Wingett (center, second row), who actually pre-dated Cavan as president at Southside from 1974-1978 before serving as longtime president of Patrick Henry Community College 1979-2013, for a total of 38 years of presidential service. The only president or former president who served longer (39 years) is Charlie King, who could not attend.

But the experience among these guys isn’t limited to the president’s office. Jack Lewis, president for the past 14 years at New River, has a total of 40 years with Virginia’s Community Colleges, beginning his career at New River in 1974. Charlie White, president for eight years at Wytheville, beats him at 43, starting (also at New River) in 1971. John Dever, president for the past three years at Thomas Nelson, has 39 years of service at four different Virginia community colleges. And Terry Suarez, who retired in 2010 after 8 years as president of Mountain Empire, began his career as a founding faculty member at Reynolds, for a total of 38 years of service.

There’s a lot of history in those faces – and a lot of what brought Virginia’s Community Colleges into being.


(In photograph – left to right, sitting: Glenn DuBois (VCCS); Edna Baehre-Kolovani (TCC); George Vaughan; Frank Turnage; John Cavan (SVCC); Terry Suarez; Ron Proffitt. Left to right, standing – Scott Hamilton (MECC); David Sam (GCC); John Dever (TNCC); Carlyle Ramsey, Bruce Scism (DCC); Angeline Goodwin (PHCC); John Downey (BRCC); Robert Sandel (VWCC); Sissy Crowther (RCC); Jack Lewis (NRCC); Max Wingett; Bill Snyder; Charlie White (WCC); Ted Raspiller (JTCC); Frank Friedman (PVCC); Marshall Smith; Robert Templin (NVCC); John Rainone (DSLCC); Mark Estepp (SWCC); Norm Scott, Paul Conco (PDCCC).'

Susan Hayden

Susan Hayden worked for Virginia's Community Colleges for 25 years in the Institutional Advancement office before retiring in December 2015. She currently is on special assignment regarding the 50th anniversary of Virginia's Community Colleges.

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