Thomas Nelson Community College board recommends new school name

Education

HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — A new name is in the works for Thomas Nelson Community College.

According to a TNCC news release, the college’s board on Wednesday recommended to the State Board for Community Colleges that TNCC adopt a new name: Virginia Peninsula Community College.

The decision came after much research into the history of TNCC’s namesake.

Thomas Nelson Jr. was a Revolutionary War hero. He also signed the Declaration of Independence and served as the fourth governor of Virginia. He was also a slaveholder.

TNCC leaders say the new name for the college reflects the geography of the area and is also “timeless, and offer[s] a sense of belonging for all students, no matter their background.”

The name will be voted on by the State Board for Community Colleges at its Sept. 22-23 meeting.

The process to consider a name change first came up in summer 2020 when the state board asked community colleges to consider the “appropriateness of the names of its college, campuses, and facilities.”

About a year ago, the college created a task force comprised of students, faculty, staff, alumni, board members and community members. It was tasked with studying the origin of the Thomas Nelson name. The college took surveys, hosted town halls, conducted research, and created PowerPoint presentations.

The task force was asked to create criteria for a new name.

The Thomas Nelson Community College Board then voted unanimously to recommend changing the school name in February.

In August, the task force’s list of recommended names was narrowed to three: Harbor Bridge Community College, Two Rivers Community College, and Virginia Peninsula Community College.

Griffin and Wythe halls at TNCC’s Hampton campus will also be renamed. They’re currently named for associates of Thomas Nelson. Three other buildings — Moore, Diggs and Harrison — are named for Nelson’s associates as well, but will be replaced by a new building in the upcoming years. The state board is in charge of names of community colleges, but the buildings on campus are named by the schools.

Two other state community colleges will also change their names — John Tyler to Brightpoint, and Lord Fairfax to Laurel Ridge. Patrick Henry Community College will be known as Patrick & Henry to recognize the counties it serves. Dabney S. Lancaster Community College will also likely have a name change.

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