Germanna Community College to honor Joe Daniel at commencement

Joe Daniel (left), a member of the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation, greets GCC nursing students at a demonstration of a birth simulation unit at the Locust Grove Campus on Tuesday morning, April 12, 2016. (Photo by Robert A. Martin)

Joe Daniel knows what it’s like to benefit from a second chance.

The successful Culpeper business leader, who will be awarded an honorary degree as 519 grads receive over 900 degrees and certificates at Germanna’s Spring Commencement ceremony Tuesday night at 7 at UMW’s Anderson Center, had a reason to get involved with the Germanna Community College Educational Foundation in the 1980s. He wanted to pay it forward after he himself needed help to make it to the University of Virginia after having been a mediocre student in high school.

“I was not what you would call a stellar student by any stretch of the imagination,” he says.

In 1962, after struggling at what was then East Carolina College, he began attending a UVA Extension school in Madison County that was the day’s equivalent of a community college.

For Mr. Daniel, it served as a bridge to the McIntyre School of Commerce at UVA, which in turn prepared him for success in business with his company Jefferson Homebuilders, Inc.

That kind of trajectory led to him wanting to get involved with Germanna because, he says: “I understood the mission. I understood the importance.”

His initial intention was to create a scholarship, but, he says, that broadened when he found that the Foundation then “had no endowment and no employees.”

His involvement quickly snowballed and his passion for helping young people in the community was a driving force in the effort to make what is now Germanna’s Joseph R. Daniel Technology Center in Culpeper a reality.

He and his wife Dr. Linda Daniel have invested over $2 million in Germanna over their quarter of a century association with the College. Their $750,000 gift helped GCC reach the local funding threshold necessary to build the Daniel Center in 2006.

“Joe Daniel’s contributions to Germanna go far beyond writing checks,” said Germanna President Janet Gullickson. “He is the wise Southern gentleman, who is a forceful advocate for Germanna across the state and for Virginia’s Community Colleges. His leadership inspires many others to give.  Our wish is to recognize his broader vision that all Virginians need a path to prosperity. And, for doing the work to make that vision possible for so many.”

Mr. Daniel was appointed to the State Board for Virginia’s Community Colleges in 1996 by Governor George Allen. Daniel served in this capacity until 2001. Chancellor Glenn DuBois fondly remembers meeting Mr. Daniel when he arrived in Virginia to be interviewed for the Chancellor’s position. While on the State Board, Mr. Daniel was the State Board liaison to Lord Fairfax Community College and to Germanna. In the fall of 2015, he agreed to be the co-chair of the 50th Anniversary for the VCCS Gala. Mr. Daniel provided the leadership gift to begin the planning process for the most successful fundraising event in the VCCS history. Along with Connie Kincheloe, Mr. Daniel successfully led a team who secured over $2.4 million to build the capacity of the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. The unrestricted funds from the Gala has positioned to VFCCE to enter into its first major gifts campaign with a goal of generating $50 million to support students attending Virginia’s 23 community colleges.

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