The group cuts the cake

MEC Celebrates 10th Anniversary

Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova
Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova laughs with Dr. Belle Wheelan as Provost Brian Foley shares a story from the “Wheelan days.”

On July 8, the Medical Education Campus (MEC) celebrated its 10-year anniversary by inviting Dr. Charlene Connolly, founding provost, and Dr. Belle Wheelan, former NOVA president, back for the festivities. It was a fun and moving time shared with NOVA’s current administration and board, MEC faculty and staff, and local elected officials. Those in attendance included Senator Adam Ebbin (30th District); Senator Barbara Favola (31st District); Delegate Mark Keam (35th District); Alexandria Mayor William Euille; Senator George Barker (39th District); Sharon Bulova, chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; members of the Greater Springfield Chamber of Commerce; NOVA Health Foundation representatives; and others who have remained invested in the vision that became “The MEC” over the years.

The group cuts the cake
The group cuts the cake. From left to right: MEC Provost Brian Foley, Dr. Belle Wheelan (former NOVA president), College Board Chair Jerome Barrett, Dr. Charlene Connolly (founding MEC provost), Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova, NOVA President Robert G. Templin, Jr. and Senator George Barker.

NOVA’s important work continues through this unique campus, the only specialized community college campus in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Wheelan, president of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, said that the MEC was largely the brainchild of Connolly.

“This was her vision, and I had to do very little,” Wheelan said. “I just had to prop her up once in a while, which on some days was not that easy, but this was her vision and she made it happen.”

That vision was to provide, in one central location, a quality medical workforce to address the needs of a graying and growing region. The region has also seen the addition of several hospitals in the last 10 years, including Ft. Belvoir’s new military hospital, as well as the relocation of military and civilian personnel whose installations have closed due to BRAC initiatives.

Dr. Charlene Connolly
Dr. Charlene Connolly poses with her husband, Kevin Young.

Provost Brian Foley noted that 52 percent of nurses and more than 80 percent of first responders are trained at community colleges, and MEC graduates will step in to fill nearly 18,000 healthcare vacancies that are expected in this area by 2020.

In addition to Foley, speakers included NOVA President Robert Templin, Jr., College Board Chair Jerome Barrett andSenator Barker. Everyone agreed that the creation of the MEC was a partnership between NOVA and the community that would benefit the number and quality of NOVA’s graduating healthcare work force.

We look forward to many years of innovation in the medical fields at MEC.

Delegate Ken Plum and President Robert G. Templin, Jr.
Delegate Ken Plum and President Robert G. Templin, Jr.
From left to right: College Board Chair Jerome Barrett, NOVA Board member Bruce Neilson and Delegate Bob Brink
From left to right: College Board Chair Jerome Barrett, NOVA Board member Bruce Neilson and Delegate Bob Brink.

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