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President to retire from Southside Virginia Community College

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Posted: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7:32 pm

After more than 32 years at the helm of Southside Virginia Community College, Dr. John J. Cavan will retire effective July 31, 2014. His legacy includes years of record enrollment, innovative new programs, thousands of college graduates and the best served and largest service area in the state community college system.

Dr. Cavan began his presidency at Southside Virginia Community College in 1983 with a goal of moving the college into the 21st Century. Dr. Cavan never forgot his roots and made a commitment to serve the under-served community and build a strong tradition of education for the region that he has come to love.

Dr. Cavan’s background and accomplishments prepared him for the challenge of leading and advancing the college. A graduate of Nicholls State University, he received his master’s degrees from Kean University and Yeshiva University. He also completed the Ed.S. and Ed.D. from Yeshiva’s Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology and has completed postdoctoral study at Harvard University.

Before coming to Virginia, Dr. Cavan held numerous administrative positions at Atlantic Community College in Mays Landing, New Jersey and Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, New York. He has taught in the graduate school of George Mason University, George Washington University and Yeshiva University and been a guest lecturer at the Center for International Leadership in New York City.

In October 1997, the Virginia Community College’s Association Executive Committee presented Dr. Cavan with an award in recognition of his support and contribution to the VCCA. He was the first college president to be chosen for this award. He also was recognized by Governor George Allen with John J. Cavan Day and in 2000, he received the Southern Region Chief Executive Officer Award from the Association of Community College Trustees.

Growth of centers offering college courses has been initiated by Dr. Cavan during his tenure with him promising to “take the college to the people at any place and any time.” The college has two campuses, and many permanent centers including the Southside Virginia Education Center in Emporia, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center in South Boston, the Estes Community Center in Chase City, the Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center in South Hill, the Occupational/Technical Center in Blackstone, a truck driving school in Emporia and South Boston and a center in Cumberland offering Middle College and other classes.

“A deadly accurate outside shooter” turned innovative college president, Dr. John J. ‘Jack’ Cavan was inducted into the Nicholls State University Athletic Hall of Fame on October 7, 2006 in John L. Guidry Stadium, Thibodaux, Louisiana. He was inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at Mississippi Delta Community College (MDCC) in Moorhead, Mississippi on April 5, 2003. His third Hall of Fame induction came in October 2011 when he was inducted into the Newark Athletic Hall of Fame. Cavan played basketball for Barringer High School where he was named an All-City Player. He learned the real game of basketball on the playgrounds of Harlem in New York City and later coached at Central High School.

His innovation and ability to formulate a strong offensive has enabled him to bring many educational opportunities to this rural area including Truck Driver Training, the largest Dual Enrollment Program in Virginia, athletic teams to community colleges, the Middle College Program, an Honors Program, program offering Associate Degree nursing and practical nursing and strong transfer opportunities to the SVCC students.

Dr. Cavan is as persistent in his athletic endeavors as he is in providing quality education to Southside Virginians. A marathon runner, he has completed a total of 120 marathons including 18 Boston Marathons and 29 New York City Marathons.

Cavan has devoted his life to education and athleticism. As the leader at Southside Virginia Community College he has approached the job with the same fevered commitment. The college has experienced record growth during Cavan’s tenure and currently serves more than 8,000 students per year.

He and his wife, Ann, reside in Kenbridge, Virginia. They have four daughters and eight grandchildren.

The nationwide search for a new SVCC president will begin this fall and will be led by a committee appointed by the chancellor of the Virginia Community College System, Glenn DuBois. The search committee will make its recommendation to Dr. DuBois based upon interviews and input gathered from the search committee, the SVCC Local Board, and the campus community.

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