“Glenn DuBois is a living example of what community colleges can and should and will do for people,” said U.S. Senator Mark Warner (D-Va.) as he headlined a bill of leaders from government and business who paid tribute to the man who has led Virginia’s Community Colleges for the past 21 years. More than three hundred people gathered Saturday evening at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond to honor DuBois, who has served longer than any other Chancellor since the system was founded in 1966.
“In our time, some people wonder whether our American democracy can survive, and whether the system we’ve all taken for granted for so long can endure,” said Sen. Warner, who was Virginia’s governor during DuBois’s first years at the VCCS. “There are challenges from the far right and far left. But one of the things that makes our democracy strong is that people get educated and gain the knowledge and skills they need to have better lives. Glenn DuBois has been at the forefront of that effort and he’s one of the people I’m proudest to know.”
DuBois has provided critical leadership to expand workforce and career training opportunities at the VCCS, in addition to boosting philanthropic efforts to help students in need and created a program to channel help to young people who age out of the American foster care system.
Brittany Woolridge, a student at Brightpoint Community College (formerly known as John Tyler CC), offered her own experience as a participant in the Great Expectations program, which provides support and guidance to foster youth. “This program is like family,” said Woolridge. “We attend activities where our students and coaches can get together and share our experiences. It’s been a big part of my success.” The audience responded with a standing ovation.
Helping students in need was a central part of the evening. The event raised $1.45 million for a fund that provides financial support to students who face urgent and unforeseen events that would otherwise interrupt their education. The “DuBois Student Success Fund” is managed by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), which organized Saturday’s tribute.
In an evening of stirring praise, Central Virginia Community College President John Capps offered up an image that is likely to stick with the audience: DuBois as Star Wars hero Han Solo. “He used to think I compared him to Darth Vader,” Capps explained.
“I’m always looking for welders,” said Huntington Ingalls Industries (Newport News Shipbuilding) Executive Vice Chairman Michael Petters, praising DuBois for boosting community college programs that train the skilled workers that employers are eager to hire. Petters also served on the VCCS State Board. “Glenn DuBois, from the commonwealth, from all the employers in the commonwealth, and from all the students that you have helped over all these years, we wish you fair winds and following seas, straight on ‘til morning.”
“You’re only as good as the people who are around you. And I’ve worked with some incredible leaders,” responded DuBois. DuBois paid respects to the system’s first Chancellor, Dana Hamel, and to Mills Godwin, the governor who convinced Virginians to support a sales tax to fund higher education for more than just the wealthy elite.
But the first person on his mind at his gala Saturday was his mother, Ann Marie, who convinced a young dishwasher in 1971 that he was, indeed, college material. “She never stopped believing in me,” said DuBois.
“This event is really overwhelming,” said DuBois to the applauding crowd. “Thank you! I will cherish this experience for the rest of my life.”
Photos of the event can be viewed and downloaded at the VCCS flickr site.
[URL to flickr site:] https://www.flickr.com/photos/vccs/albums/with/72177720299168226