Dr. Sam leaves stellar legacy at Germanna Community College

VCCS State Board Chair James Cuthbertson (l), Germanna President Dr. David A. Sam (center) and VCCS Chancellor Glenn DuBois (r) talk after Sam was awarded president emeritus status last Thursday in Richmond.
Photo courtesy of GCC

Germanna Community College President David A. Sam, who will retire at the end of June, was awarded president emeritus status by the Virginia Community College Board Thursday, Jan. 19 in Richmond.

“Our Germanna Local College Board is pleased that the VCCS Board and Chancellor Glenn DuBois approved our recommendation that they name Dr. Sam a president emeritus,” said GCC Board chair William Thomas of Culpeper. “Germanna has made great progress under Dr. Sam’s leadership.”

During a decade at Germanna, Thomas said, Sam has guided GCC through a perfect storm of the Great Recession and an ongoing series of state budget cuts coinciding with a rapid increase in enrollment.

“Dr. Sam provided calm, steady leadership during turbulent times,” said Teri McNally, the city of Fredericksburg’s representative on the Local College Board and a GCC Educational Foundation Board member. “He led Germanna through a recession and state budget cuts, managing to take care of our student body, our faculty and our staff despite it all.”

As Sam approaches retirement, Thomas said, there are modern new facilities, new programs – and most importantly, an 183 percent increase in degrees awarded in the 2015-2016 academic year over 2006- 2007.

Bruce L. Davis, a longtime member of the Germanna Educational Foundation Board, said Sam faced a daunting situation soon after he arrived at Germanna in 2007 as the Great Recession was about to begin.

“The recession took a huge toll,” Davis said. “It was a real challenge.”

In spite of that, student success at Germanna has increased steadily during Dr. Sam’s tenure with the number of degrees awarded annually doubling.

During Sam’s time as president, Germanna’s total attendance soared to a total headcount of more than 13,000 and the college expanded its Fredericksburg Campus in Spotsylvania, christened the Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper and added centers in Stafford and Caroline counties.

Sam launched the first-ever capital campaign at Germanna, with the lofty goal of $10 million: The campaign exceeded its goal, raising $12 million—an unheard of sum for a community college. From 2007-2015 at Germanna, Dr. Sam raised $26.5 million, including donations, grants and local funds.

The funds led to the opening of a new Caroline County Center, helped build the new Science & Engineering Building and Information Commons at GCC’s Fredericksburg Area Campus and will lead to an expansion of the Stafford Center and a permanent location in that county. They funded the start of two programs—the Germanna Scholars and the Gladys P. Todd Academy— both of which make it possible for local students to earn their associate degrees at little or no cost while still in high school and transfer to universities.

Germanna will also open the Fredericksburg Center for Advanced Technology in Central Park in 2017 as Sam’s presidency approaches an end.

Under Dr. Sam’s leadership, Germanna:

•       doubled the number of students in its nursing program

•       established an engineering program

•       began a physical therapy assistant program

•       started a student success initiative that includes Student Success Coaches

In addition to the 183.3 percent increase in the number of degrees and certificates awarded annually:

•       Credit side enrollment climbed 61 percent.

•       FTEs jumped 43.5 percent

•       Noncredit workforce enrollment increased 1028.3 percent as Dr. Sam and Dr. Jeanne Wesley took a sleepy program and turned it into one that meets community needs for training.

•       The number of workforce courses climbed 1675.7 percent.

“It has been the greatest honor of my life,” Sam said, “to have served as president of Germanna.”


Search for new president


From a field or more than 100 applicants, the search has been narrowed to 12 according to Director of Media and Community relations Mike Zitz Beckham.

Those 12 will be whittled down to three or four who will be brought in for public forums in early March. Beckham reported that the plan is to have a hire by late March.