Robert G. Templin Jr., president of Northern Virginia Community College since 2002, announced his intention to retire in February 2015 during a College Board meeting held Sept. 8.
“My time at NOVA has been the highlight of my career,” Templin said. “NOVA is one of the very top colleges in the country for creating higher education opportunities and producing outstanding graduates. I’m thankful for the experience of working with so many dedicated elected officials and business, civic and education leaders across our region to expand educational opportunities for tens of thousands of additional students.”
“During his tenure at NOVA, Dr. Templin focused diligently on improving the quality of life for the 2.1 million citizens of Northern Virginia. He worked tirelessly with local governments, businesses, community organizations, school districts and universities to strengthen our economy through innovative programs and services,” Board Chairman Michael Wooten said. “His retirement is well deserved but the news of his retirement was tough for me to hear. You don’t replace a Bob Templin. The best you hope to do is to find a worthy successor. Bob is leaving us the legacy of a superior institution; we hope that this legacy will attract a world class leader to succeed him.”
The chancellor of the Virginia Community College System echoed Wooten’s sentiments. “I’ve worked with many college presidents during my career and Bob is at the top of the list for his commitment to change lives and improve communities,” said Glenn DuBois.
Templin assumed the presidency during an economic downturn when state funding was shrinking. Rather than turn away students, Templin employed a counterintuitive strategy to increase revenues by serving more students. Today, enrollments are up by 18,000 and revenues have increased by $150 million annually. To accommodate the growth, Templin opened three new centers and began major capital projects totaling nearly one million square feet of classroom and laboratory space.
Under Templin’s leadership, the College achieved numerous milestones:
- More than 500,000 credit and noncredit students enrolled at NOVA during Templin’s tenure. Eighty percent of the enrollment growth comes from minority, low income and first-generation college students.
- NOVA became an Achieving the Dream Leader College, guiding a national effort to increase the number of community college graduates who enter the labor force or transfer to a university to complete a bachelor’s degree.
- NOVA increased the number of graduates by 120 percent to over 6,000 graduates annually. NOVA now transfers more students to George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, James Madison University, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia than any other institution.
- NOVA developed “Pathway to the Baccalaureate,” an award-winning college access and baccalaureate completion program serving more than 10,000 students annually from 55 high schools and centers located in low-income, minority and immigrant communities. For NOVA Pathway graduates, the baccalaureate completion rate at George Mason University is currently 83 percent.
- The value of pursuing career training has been enhanced. NOVA graduates with technical associate degrees earn a median salary of $43,000 annually 18 months after graduation, the highest in Virginia.
- NOVA became Virginia’s leading minority-serving undergraduate institution, serving more African-American students than the state’s two public historically black universities combined. Thirty-five percent of all Latino students and nearly one-third of all Asian undergraduates in Virginia public higher education are enrolled at NOVA.
- NOVA initiated Virginia’s first statewide community college distance learning network linking 22 community colleges and serving nearly 3,000 students annually, primarily in rural areas, within the first three years.
- NOVA spearheaded a regional initiative with 10 hospitals and five universities to double the number of registered nurses and increase by 50 percent the allied health professional and technical graduates in Northern Virginia within five years. The initiative was recognized by PricewaterhouseCoopers Health Research Institute as a national best practice in developing public-private partnerships in its research report, “What Works: Healing the Healthcare Staffing Shortage.”
- Together with the Northern Virginia Technology Council, six regional chambers of commerce and eight public school divisions, NOVA launched an initiative to increase Northern Virginia’s supply of students entering careers in science, technology, engineering and math. By 2015 more than 40,000 students are expected to be engaged in one or more SySTEMic Solutions activities. This initiative received the 2014 Governor’s Award for Science Innovation.
- NOVA partnered with six community-based nonprofit organizations to help nearly 1,000 low-income adults annually move from low-wage part-time employment into jobs with family-sustaining wages.
During this same period, Templin led the development of a national partnership between Goodwill Industries International and the American Association of Community Colleges. This program has trained more than 17,000 low-income adults through 72 local Goodwill agencies working with 121 community colleges across the United States.
He was also the founding board chairman of Achieving the Dream Inc., a national nonprofit organization serving more than 200 colleges in 34 states. Achieving the Dream is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, gain access to college, stay in school and earn a postsecondary credential.
Prior to his appointment at NOVA, Templin was the president of Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, an organization that enhances Virginia’s economic competitiveness through technology-based economic development. While he was there, the Center was credited with helping to create or retain more than 12,000 high-tech jobs, attracting or creating more than 225 technology-based companies, and increasing company sales or new capital investment by more than $500 million. He is the founding Chairman of the Virginia Commercial Space Flight Authority which built the nation’s fourth commercial space launch facility on Virginia’s Eastern Shore and currently serves as a primary launch facility for the resupply of the International Space Station.
Over the past 30 years, Templin’s efforts in workforce training, education, economic development and immigration policy have been featured by National Public Radio, USA Today, PBS National News Hour and Fortune magazine. He was instrumental in the creation of the “Blueprint for Technology-Based Economic Growth in Virginia,” a strategic plan outlining the steps that Virginia should take to guide the state’s emergence as a leading technology state.
He has been named “Virginia Business Newsmaker of the Year” by Virginia Business magazine; named one of “Washington’s 150 Most Powerful People,” “Washingtonian of the Year” and one of the “100 Tech Titans” of the Washington region by Washingtonian magazine; one of the “Power 100” most important business leaders in Washington by the Washington Business Journal; and a “Champion of Change” by the White House.
Templin has been honored with the Earle C. Williams Leadership in Technology Award from the Northern Virginia Technology Council, the Marta V. Wyatt Award from the Hispanic Committee of Virginia for his commitment to the state’s immigrant community, the “We Are America Now” award from Northern Virginia Family Service, the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Virginia Government by Virginia Commonwealth University, the Community Foundation of the National Capital Region’s Civic Spirit Award for outstanding leadership in the Washington metropolitan region and the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce’s James M. Rees Award for contributions to the economy and quality of life in Northern Virginia.
Templin started his educational journey at a community college. He earned an associate degree at Harford Community College in Bel Air, Maryland, before going on to Towson University for a bachelor’s degree, Georgetown University for a master’s degree and North Carolina State University for a doctorate in education.
After retiring from NOVA, Templin will continue working to improve higher education. He has accepted a part-time appointment with The Aspen Institute where he will serve as Senior Fellow with the College Excellence Program. He will also hold a part-time appointment as Professor of Practice with the Department of Leadership, Policy and Adult and Higher Education at North Carolina State University. Both roles will focus on developing leadership programs to help prepare the next generation of community college presidents and to develop resources to improve student success across the higher education sector.
Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.