Posted on Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dr. Dana Hamel was large and in charge back in 1966. You could say that he helped give birth to Virginia’s Community Colleges. Like a proud father, he was there to cut the cord.VCC50thLogo_Final-5in

Hamel was chancellor when Northern Virginia Community College was christened in 1967 – the first of nearly two dozen community colleges that would come to dot the state’s landscape over the ensuing decades.

The amount of knowledge Hamel has acquired over his 94 years is staggering. He is, for all intents and purposes, a walking – talking encyclopedia of information. And, he’s always eager to share a personal anecdote or two when asked to reflect on his many decades of professional experience. 

Dr. Dana Hamel – now and then

Hamel feels that Virginia’s Community Colleges were created to provide everyone an education, from the “late bloomer” to the military veteran looking to transition back to civilian life.

But that mission, he says, is expanding.

“Technology is growing and it’s up to community colleges to adjust and adapt. I also think the success of the Commonwealth of Virginia is going to depend on education.”

A skilled watchmaker, Hamel dismisses the notion that community colleges represent what’s been described as the “13th grade.”

“The community colleges are there for the guy and the gal who, for whatever reason, got out, went to work, got married, and they wanted and or needed more education. As I go around today, I see older men and women working and that struck me. I know some of them are back at Reynolds and John Tyler picking up a course, technology, or skill. That’s extremely important.”

Hamel believes a free society will always require education to help make good decisions and the need for community colleges won’t diminish over time.

“We’re going into this election-business now and we have all these candidates. You’ve got to make decisions. Because of more information, more technology, and more implications of what happens because of the decision you make, it may be to vote or whatever, education has to be there because to know is to be.”'

Craig Butterworth

A native of Richmond, Craig Butterworth is an award-winning broadcast journalist and communications professional. He has worked as a spokesperson, staff writer and editor for a variety of non-profit and for-profit organizations throughout the Richmond area.

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