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Germanna’s 2011 highlights include ‘legendary’ response to quake; $1 million grant from Stafford EDA toward campus in county; governor lauding groundbreaking for new science building


It may have been the biggest obstacle in Germanna Community College history.

But it produced perhaps the college’s finest hour.

The 5.8 magnitude Aug. 23 earthquake closed the largest academic building at GCC’s Fredericksburg Area Campus until Fall 2012 for repairs. Germanna President David A. Sam and his staff faced a daunting task—finding a way to move the 4,400 students and 321 classes—and quickly.

The results, said Virginia Community College Chancellor Glenn DuBois, were “legendary in my book.”  Deborah Brock, dean of arts and sciences, and Bill Fiege, dean of technical and professional studies, worked something close to a miracle. Virtually overnight, they re-engineered the schedule to make it work, moving classes to the second academic building at the Fredericksburg Campus and making some “hybrid,” meaning part in the classroom and part online. Two hundred faculty members shared 10 offices.

For the most part, instead of creating tension, the crisis seemed to buoy students, faculty and staff and make them more determined. Germanna President David A. Sam praised college staff, faculty, administrators and volunteers for their hard work into evenings and on weekends, and for what he described as their ability to adapt, their can-do mindset and their amiable attitude under stress. “This is the most positive place I’ve ever worked, Sam said. “.., The earthquake was an opportunity for dysfunction. But I’ve been told by people at the Chamber and other business people, ‘It’s remarkable what you did.”

Enrollment increased nearly 4 percent in spite of the quake, and when classes resumed on Sept. 6, unshakable students and faculty flashed smiles as they donned “Germanna Quake Break ‘11” t-shirts. DuBois said they: “carried on without missing a beat…. That spirit is what makes our students difference-makers.”

Stafford EDA’s $1 million matching challenge grant gets ball rolling for campus in county  

Germanna continued to prepare for long-term growth as the Stafford Economic Development Authority awarded GCC a matching challenge grant of up to $1 million on May 5 to be used toward the establishment of a permanent campus in the county. Officials said the intent is to support workforce development and thereby economic development in the county.

Don Newlin, Chairman of the EDA, said: “Economic development and workforce development are critically linked. One cannot succeed without the other. Knowing this, the Economic Development Authority will launch a community-wide, 50-50 matching fundraising effort that will ultimately raise $2 million to support the acquisition of land for a permanent Germanna campus in Stafford.”


Governor praises vision at groundbreaking for science building

Gov. Robert F. McDonnell was among the dignitaries on hand when the college broke ground on a high-tech, “green” three-story, 50,000-square foot academic building.

The governor said: “the vision behind Phase III—a lot of emphasis placed on the scientific disciplines [is necessary] to maintain American exceptionalism” and compete compete with economic powers on the Pacific Rim.

The building is expected to be completed by March and to open in the Fall.

GCC holds first Fall Commencement to accommodate growth


Germanna’s rapid growth led President Sam to schedule a first-ever Fall Commencement because May Commencement crowds had become too big for the 2,500-seat Fredericksburg Expo Center, the largest indoor venue in the area. GCC is now approaching a total annual enrollment of 15,000.

Commencement speaker Kevin Jackson of Caroline County, who went from being an underachieving student 15 years ago in high school to being a hospital director in Richmond on the verge of earning his PhD, told the graduates: “Understand success is not something you start, but something you finish. So I challenge you today to always get back up and finish.”

Student Government Association President Carla Craft told her fellow graduates, man of them had two or even three jobs and supported families as they went to Germanna, to keep doing what they’re doing. “”Always strive to be the best that you can be and do the best job you can do,” she said.

Germanna recognized as one of the nation’s top colleges in use of digital technology

GCC was recognized by e.Republic’s Center for Digital Education and Converge Online announced the winners in its seventh annual Digital Community Colleges Survey. The survey examined tech integration into college curriculum and campus life, tech training for students and faculty and distance learning, use of Web 2.0 social and collaborative capabilities and use of mobile devices, among other things.

Germanna awarded military-friendly school honor

G.I. Jobs, a national magazine for military personnel making the transition to civilian life, named GCC to its 2012 Military Friendly School list honoring the top 20 percent of colleges doing the most to embrace both active military service members and veterans as students.