During the Annandale Campus 50th anniversary Heritage Celebration on September 22, President Scott Ralls led the dedication of interpretative signage on the historic site on campus where the original Pruitt family farmhouse stood when the property was purchased by the Commonwealth in 1966.
The Heritage Celebration concluded with a special Legacy Lecture that featured two of NOVA’s longest serving faculty members, Floyd Schwartz, Annandale information technology adjunct faculty member who was hired at NOVA on September 27, 1967, and Dr. David Conroy, Annandale mathematics professor who started teaching at NOVA on September 18, 1968.
Schwartz started working at the beginning of the fall quarter of 1967 when the Annandale Campus, then known as the Central Campus, opened. At that time, he was working at NOVA’s original location in the converted warehouse in Bailey’s Crossroads that was renamed the Eastern Campus. Schwartz worked also for many years at the Alexandria Campus after it opened in 1973.
Schwartz graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and went to work as a manager of federal government computer facilities for Honeywell. In 1967, NOVA was given a Honeywell 200 computer, a top-of-the-line machine at the time that used punch cards, and Schwartz and several other Honeywell employees were asked to teach NOVA students how to use it.
“I decided to stay on,” Schwartz said, “and I have been here ever since.” While he has taught in the Virginia Community College System continuously for 50 years, it included almost two years at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia, when his job moved there briefly. “When I started college,” Schwartz recalled, “I said ‘No teaching; I am never going to be a teacher.’ But, guess what, that sort of changed.”
Born in New England, Conroy received his bachelor’s degree at Providence College and his master’s degree at Central Connecticut State University, both in mathematics. He joined the Army and that brought him to this area, where he earned his doctorate in mathematics from American University.
“Upon leaving the military as a captain, I came directly to NVCC where I have taught math ever since,” Conroy said. “My first quarter at the College was the fall of 1968. Dr. Ernst [NOVA’s second longest serving president] and I were hired at the same time.” He also started at the Eastern Campus, which he said was windowless so that a four-inch snow hit one winter and no one inside knew about it.
Conroy’s view after 49 years of teaching at NOVA was summed up in a statement with which Schwartz readily agreed: “It is all about the students.”
The dedication ceremony was recorded by NOVA Video Services and is available online.