Responding to the recommendation of a legislative study committee that “every citizen of the Commonwealth be given an opportunity to attend an institution of higher learning offering academic, occupational/ technical, and community service programs at a nominal cost,” in 1966 the General Assembly of Virginia established a state-wide system of community colleges. A newly established State Board for Community Colleges prepared a master plan for a system of 23 institutions. The Lieutenant Governor, J. Sargeant Reynolds, heralded the creation of the community college system by the General Assembly as “one of its finest acts and finest hours in this century.”
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, the last of these colleges, is named in honor of the late Lieutenant Governor of the State, who championed legislation creating the state-supported community colleges. Opened in 1972 in temporary headquarters, the college is now a three-campus institution and the third largest in the Virginia Community College System. The community college master plan called for J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College to consist of three permanent instructional centers, serving a geographic district comprising the Virginia counties of Goochland, Hanover, Henrico, and Powhatan, and the city of Richmond (north of the James River). Louisa County was subsequently added to the college’s service region on a shared basis with Piedmont Virginia Community College. With the opening of the Western Campus in Goochland County in the spring of 1978, the college completed its plan for three campuses, located at urban, suburban, and rural sites. Additionally, in the spring of 1996, the State Board for Community Colleges added Richmond south of the James to its service region.
The Downtown Campus is now housed in a modern, high-rise structure at Seventh and Jackson Streets, having moved in the fall of 1981 from leased facilities in the 100 block of East Grace Street. In the fall of 1995 a major addition to this facility was completed, adding 84,000 square feet to the existing structure. In September 1974, the Parham Road Campus opened in a newly constructed, contemporary building located on a 105-acre site in northern Henrico County. A second instructional building was completed on this suburban campus in time for the opening of classes in the fall of 1980. An instructional facility at the Western Campus was completed in the fall of 1981. A major addition to the Western Campus opened in Spring 2001, making this the college’s third comprehensive campus. A three-story structure adjacent to the Parham Road Campus houses executive and central administrative offices.
From its inception, the college has recognized its strategic role in the metropolitan Richmond area’s economic development. In 1977 the college established its nationally recognized, Center for Office Development, a statewide pilot project with the Virginia Community College System and State of Virginia, to provide training in office and supervisory skills for employees of the Commonwealth. Within several years the Center opened this training opportunity to all individuals and businesses. By spring 1989, the college offered short-term training and seminars at three strategic locations in the metropolitan Richmond area.
Demand for these services from the business community continued to escalate. As a result, the college reorganized its outreach efforts in 1994 by creating the Institute for Economic Development & Extended Studies. In response to the evolving needs of the business community, the unit reorganized in the fall of 2000, changing its name to the Institute for Workforce Development. The Institute was comprised of six Centers including the Center for Corporate Training, the Center for Organizational Effectiveness, the Center for Lifelong Learning, the Center for Apprenticeship Programs, the Center for Entrepreneurial Development, and the Center for Professional Development and Renewal.
J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College (JSRCC) and John Tyler Community College (JTCC) collaborated in 2003 to create a new workforce development entity that provides business, industry and government in the region with a single source for workforce development. The new organization is named the Community College Workforce Alliance (CCWA). The alliance is a cooperative partnership dedicated to supporting economic development and providing world-class workforce training and services to both the public and private sectors. The vision behind the new organization is to maximize the talents and resources of both institutions’ current workforce development centers in an effort to provide Richmond, Tri-cities and surrounding counties with a world-class regional workforce development organization.
The college currently offers 34 two-year occupational/technical programs, 5 transfer programs and 60 career studies certificate programs requiring less than one-year of full-time study. Having enrolled more than 244,000 persons in credit courses since its opening, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College continues to strive to meet the aspirations of its namesake to provide “a practical and economic answer to the future educational needs of thousands of ...Virginians.”