Posted on Wednesday, July 31, 2019

“I know where home is: Sunset Drive in Bassett Virginia. I don’t care how you cut it, that’s where my home is.”

At this point in her career, Susan Tinsley Gooden lives and works in Richmond, but she is quick to recall her roots, and her pride in the hard-working people of Southwest and Southside Virginia.

“My parents were from Bassett, and my grandparents, too,” says Gooden. “My grandparents literally grew up across the street from each other. And then my parents built a house down the same street. They went to the high school prom together. Some people don’t know where home is. I know where home is, and it was a hard-working town.”

(L. to R.) VCCS State Board Chair Susan Tinsley Gooden, with the system’s newest college presidents, Dr. Jacqueline Gill, DCC; Dr. Shannon Kennedy, RCC; Dr. Quentin Johnson, SVCC, and Dr. James Shaeffer, ESCC.

Gooden recalls the furniture and textile industries that once fueled the economy of the region, and believes education can improve hopes for a better future.

“I’ve always been a strong advocate of the community college system,” says Gooden. “My sister and I both earned our associate degrees at Patrick Henry Community College.”

“I’ve always felt that community colleges are largely an untapped resource within the Commonwealth of Virginia and nationwide in terms of post-secondary education, whether we’re talking about career credentials, or about transferring to pursue a four year degree.”

Appointed to a four-year term on the VCCS State Board by Governor Terry McAuliffe in 2016, Gooden is a professor of public administration and policy at the Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at VCU. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Virginia Tech, and her doctorate in political science at Syracuse University.

She succeeds Robin Sullenberger as board chair. Fredericksburg businessman Edward Dalrymple, Jr. is the board’s new vice-chair.

Gooden took the helm during the State Board’s meeting July 18, and plans to use her one-year term to emphasize the importance of boosting student enrollment and program completion for VCCS students.

“Completion is a big priority for all our students, whether they came to us to earn associate degrees, or to secure workforce credentials in short term programs like FastForward,” said Gooden. “And to the extent that I can be an ambassador for those causes, I’ll be a very vocal messenger.”

Gooden’s additional priority is to encourage hiring practices to ensure that senior administrators at the VCCS resemble the system’s diverse student body. She credits the Chancellor’s recent college presidential hires as “excellent examples of diversity.”

As chair of the VCCS State Board, Gooden selected her alma mater, Patrick Henry Community College, to play host to the state board meeting next March. The last time PHCC hosted a state board meeting was March 1992.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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