Posted on Tuesday, February 16, 2016



Chancellor DuBois and Karen Petersen

At a recent Town Hall, Chancellor DuBois announced he and Karen Petersen will match contributions to the Dana B. Hamel Fund dollar for dollar in honor of the 50th Anniversary of Virginia’s Community Colleges. Here below are Karen’s comments about her friend and mentor, Dana B. Hamel, who of course greeted VCCS employees with his signature line, “It’s a great day to be alive in the commonwealth!”


My tenure with Virginia’s Community Colleges goes back more than 20 years – to 1994 – but Dr. Hamel and I have been friends and colleagues for even a few years longer than that. Many people know Dr. Hamel for his leadership as our first chancellor, but I’d like to mention just a couple of other things about him you might not know.

He is a World War II veteran; he is a watchmaker; he is a twin – his brother was a minister; he loves classical music, and he is an avid reader, particularly of religion and history. He is also the father of three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren – all of whom he adores. And, above all, he is a great story teller. 

To me, and to countless others, Dana Hamel has been a tremendous mentor and great friend, an inspiration and someone who is always there to pick you up when you are down. He always seems to know when to send an inspirational book or an envelope filled with cartoons he has cut out of the paper to make you laugh. He has been the inspiration and wind under the wings of so many people throughout his life, and he continues to do so. 

When we began brainstorming for our 50th anniversary and celebrating this man, we wanted to do something special, and in talking to the Chancellor we decided the best way to do that was to make sure the Dana B. Hamel Scholarship is fully endowed this year.Hamel-Family 

Can you imagine what it was like to be this man 50 years ago when the legislation establishing our system was passed and he was told to go out and make it happen?  We think that moving to a new building or pulling together a new initiative is a challenge. Imagine what it was like to have no staff and no office, just a charge to go out and fulfill a dream and a vision.

And he proceeded to do that. The principles, governance structure and campuses we have today are virtually intact from the initial roadmap that was created under his leadership. That is some long-term planning!  Pretty incredible. 

Dr. Hamel – there are two kinds of giving – giving because you feel obligated to do so, and giving because it comes form your heart.  We want you to know that this challenge gift to fully endow your scholarship comes from our hearts, as a special thank you to you, for all that you have done for us and for all that you continue to do, for our students and families all across the commonwealth. 

I give you our Chancellor Emeritus, Dr. Dana B. Hamel!

Interested in donating?  Visit and select the Dana B. Hamel Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship.'

Virginia's Community Colleges

Created more than 50 years ago, the VCCS is comprised of 23 community colleges located on 40 campuses across the commonwealth. Together, Virginia’s Community Colleges serve more than 270,000 students a year in credit and workforce courses.

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