Since our establishment in 1964, Tyler has grown and changed to meet the needs of our community.
Establishment of the College
During the 1964 session, the General Assembly of Virginia passed legislation providing for the establishment of two-year technical colleges in the Commonwealth. The plan called for a partnership between the state and the local cities and counties sponsoring a technical college in their region.
On January 27, 1965, under the regional leadership of the Appomattox Basin Industrial Development Corporation, three cities (Colonial Heights, Hopewell and Petersburg) and five counties (Charles City, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George and Sussex) submitted jointly an application to the State Department of Technical Education requesting assistance in the establishment of a technical college in the region. Later, the counties of Amelia and Surry joined in sponsoring the proposed college.
The State Department of Technical Education approved the application and on September 3, 1965, the College Board of Trustees met for the first time. One of its first decisions was to use the name of the tenth president of the United States in designating the college; John Tyler was a native of the region to be served by the College. Harold T. Goyne, Sr., generously gave the new college its campus in Chester, VA.
Construction and the First Classes
On July 1, 1966, two weeks after construction began, the purposes of the college were expanded by action of the General Assembly to include not only technical education but also adult education and freshman and sophomore courses for transfer to four-year colleges and universities.
After construction, Tyler had three main buildings: Goyne Hall, the administrative building; Bird Hall, the main instruction building; and Godwin Hall, the engineering technology building.
John Tyler Community College began classes on October 2, 1967, with 1,231 students and 85 faculty members. Most students at the time were enrolled in programs that prepared students for careers upon graduation.
By the close of the second year of operations, Tyler had served 2,733 persons in credit courses and approximately 1,000 others in non-credit programs. At the first formal graduation exercises on June 14, 1969, degrees and certificates were awarded to 61 students.
Campus Expansion to Meet Growing Community Needs
Tyler’s Chester Campus continued to expand to meet the growing needs of the community. In the spring of 1973, construction was begun on a two-year project that doubled its facilities. Construction included an extension to Godwin Hall to offer more engineering technology laboratories and classrooms and the building of Moyar Hall, a two-story "Learning Resources" building that housed the library, audio-visual facilities, classrooms, laboratories and student services administrative offices.
Continued Expansion of Services
To meet continued demand, the college began to seek other facilities throughout the region to hold classes. College opened an annex at Fort Lee in 1980 and a Midlothian Outreach Office in August of 1981. Twelve to 20 classes were offered annually over the next three years at Midlothian High School (the current middle school), Swift Creek Middle School, Winfree Baptist Church, St. Edward's Catholic Church, the Midlothian Branch of the Chesterfield Library System and the Brandermill Community Center.
Then, in 1984, an arrangement with Chesterfield County Schools permitted Tyler to offer classes at the Watkins Annex.
Twenty years after Tyler began educating the community, during the 1987-88 academic year, the college served 9,617 credit and 1,555 non-credit students for a total of 11,172 individuals.
Opening of Featherstone Professional Center Campus
In 1988, the Midlothian location of the college moved to the Featherstone Professional Center, an office complex situated on Huguenot Road. This would be its home for 12 years, before a permanent campus would be constructed.
Chester Campus Fire
A fire at the Chester Campus took place on December 12, 1988. Bird Hall was severely damaged, and a total of 14 classrooms, nine or 10 faculty offices, the student lounge, bookstore and reprographics department were destroyed. Tyler picked up the pieces and continued serving the community by moving classes and offices to mobile units that were set up in the parking lot.
Featherstone Becomes Official Campus
Enrollment increases at the Featherstone location caused the College to use all of the available space at the complex, and on September 17, 1991, the Featherstone site gained campus designation within the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). At this point and time, the Featherstone site was larger than 10 other VCCS campuses. Because of these factors, it became clear that a permanent campus in Midlothian was justified.
Creation of Midlothian Campus
Existing policy dictated that land for community college campuses had to be donated and not acquired through purchase. So, in 1991, Tyler and the Louis Reynolds Marital Trust began discussing the possibility of the Trust providing land. An agreement was signed on February 23, 1994, that provided 126 acres for a permanent site. Over the next few years, Tyler would be heavily involved in securing funds from the General Assembly, choosing an architect firm and working with a construction company to build the new Midlothian Campus.
Chester Campus Expansion
As the Midlothian Campus became more of a reality, the Chester Campus continued to expand. In 1993, the Nicholas Student Center was opened. This new building housed the student lounge, bookstore, cafeteria, classrooms and a large multi-purpose room.
Midlothian Campus Opening
The Midlothian Campus opened for summer classes in 2000 and was dedicated on October 3, 2000. The Campus then consisted of three buildings: an administration building, an academic building and a warehouse/physical plant facility. The academic building housed the library, 12 classrooms, two-tiered lecture halls, four science laboratories, four computer laboratories, a compressed video classroom and 32 faculty offices.
Creation of the Community College Workforce Alliance
In 2003, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and John Tyler Community College joined forces to create a new workforce development entity, the Community College Workforce Alliance, in an effort to provide business, industry and government in the greater Richmond area with a single source for workforce development.
Midlothian Campus Expansion
In October 2007, the College broke ground on a second academic building at Midlothian. The building, referred to at the time as the Science Building, houses the library, more classroom space and faculty offices, all of which helped alleviate crowded conditions. In July 2010, the project received a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification, becoming the first in the Virginia Community College System to receive such recognition.
Midlothian Campus Buildings Named
In 2012, Tyler’s president Dr. Marshall Smith announced the academic buildings on the Midlothian Campus would be named. Hamel Hall, formerly known as the Science Building, was named in honor of Dr. Dana Hamel, the first chancellor of the Virginia Community College System. Eliades Hall, formerly known as the Academic Building, was named in honor of Mr. Homer Eliades, a member of the founding College Board of John Tyler Community College and a founding member of the John Tyler Community College Foundation Board.
Inauguration of President Ted Raspiller
In May 2013, Dr. Edward “Ted” Raspiller was announced as Tyler’s seventh president. His inauguration took place in October 2014.
Announcement of Mascot
In the summer of 2014, Tyler announced they would choose the college’s first mascot. After submissions were received from students, faculty, staff, and alumni, the Tyler Trailblazer was voted the winner by the campus community. Trailblazers create new paths and boldly move forward. Horses are powerful, intelligent and kind creatures that have played a vital role in the history of our local service area.
Midlothian Campus Construction
In 2014, Phase III of construction at Midlothian began. Plans included a 351-space parking garage and a new 70,000-square-foot building, which became known as the T Building. The T Building includes specialized instructional spaces, including a fitness classroom, a dance/performance classroom, an engineering classroom, and a music classroom complete with practice rooms. The auditorium/theatre complex features a green room, dressing rooms, an area for set creation, and a box office. Finally, the T Building features a new area devoted to student services, such as counseling, career resources and testing, as well as faculty offices, an instructional technology area and a small cafe. The T Building opened in January 2016.
50th Anniversary Celebration
In 2017, Tyler celebrated its 50th anniversary. The college hosted celebratory events and activities; reconnected with alumni; launched its Deeds Not Words initiative, connecting students and employees with community service and service-learning projects; and built a time capsule. The John Tyler Community College Foundation also raised money for the creation of the JTCC 50th Anniversary Completion Scholarship.
Chester Campus Renovations and Construction
In 2018, the college began renovations of Bird Hall and Nicholas Hall and built a new 25,503-square-foot workforce center. Bird Hall reopened for classes in August 2019 and became home to the college's nursing and EMS/paramedic programs. The Nicholas Center and new William H. Talley, III Center for Workforce Center opened in December 2019.
In the summer of 2020, Tyler's President Ted Raspiller issued a statement addressing the college's commitment to equity and outlined steps Tyler would take to become a more equitable institution for all students, faculty and staff. Part of Tyler's commitment to equity was to research and examine the appropriateness of the names of campus buildings and landmarks, as well as the name of the college itself. When the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) requested that all 23 community colleges examine the names of their institution and its buildings, Tyler embraced the process immediately and proactively formed a Naming Task Force that began meeting in early fall 2020.
On November 11, 2020, the Naming Task Force reached a unanimous decision to recommend renaming the college to ensure a future-facing name that aligns with the college’s mission, vision and commitment to diversity, inclusion and equity. The Task Force also recommended that Bird Hall, Godwin Hall and several roadways on campus be renamed.