In a meaningful event highlighting the rich history of education in Roanoke, the City of Roanoke, in collaboration with Virginia Western Community College, unveiled a historical marker commemorating the institution’s pivotal role in the establishment of the Virginia Community College System.
Former Mayor Nelson Harris, whose dedication to preserving Roanoke’s history is well known, applied for the historical marker through the Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Virginia Western Community College, inaugurated in 1966, holds the distinction of being the first among an eventual 23 Virginia Community College System schools, charting a course that has impacted the lives of thousands of Virginia students.
Mayor Lea expressed his gratitude, stating, “I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to Former Mayor Nelson Harris for his tireless efforts in elevating Roanoke’s history. It is through individuals like hi that we can truly appreciate and honor significant milestones from Roanoke’s past.”
“Many people drive through our campus daily and do not know about Virginia Western’s place in Virginia’s educational history,” said Dr. Robert Sandel, who has served as president of Virginia Western Community College since 2001. “The research of our faculty member and esteemed Roanoke historian Dr. Nelson Harris helps bring to light the important role Virginia Western played in the formation of the Virginia Community College System. The groundwork laid in Roanoke in the 1960s helped create a more equitable system for all Virginians to access higher education, and this marker makes that history known.”
The historical marker serves as a symbol of the educational legacy that continues to thrive within the community. It signifies Roanoke’s commitment to providing accessible and quality education for all, echoing the ideals laid out by Virginia Western Community College over five decades ago.