Thursday, May 24, 2018

Paula P. Pando Will be the Next President of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College



RICHMOND (May 24, 2018) – Dr. Paula P. Pando, of Atlantic Heights, NJ, will become the next permanent president of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College. That announcement was made today by Dr. Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia’s Community Colleges. Pando’s selection concludes a national search that attracted 102 applicants.

“Paula Pando’s life is a uniquely American success story,” said DuBois. “She was very young when her family came to the U.S. from Chile. She had to learn a new language and a new culture, and she has excelled ever since. She has built an impressive career, focused on helping people find and leverage opportunity, and I expect her to be a terrific president for Reynolds Community College.”

Pando has worked in higher education for more than 21 years. She began her career in 1994 as the director of campus activities and programs at Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ. Beginning in 2000, Pando worked as a consultant for a New York firm, facilitating sensitivity and diversity training, among other topics. 

In 2003, she joined Hudson County Community College, in Jersey City, NJ, as the associate dean for student services. She has since risen through the ranks, holding three different vice presidencies, including her current role as senior vice president for student and educational services.

“I am thrilled and humbled to have the opportunity to lead Reynolds Community College as it approaches its half-century mark of providing the Richmond area outstanding educational opportunities, and to join the forward-thinking community college system that is the VCCS,” Pando said.

In 2017, Pando was among 38 leaders from across the country selected for the Aspen Presidential Fellowship for Community College Excellence, a rigorous 10 month applied leadership program. Pando holds a doctorate from Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ; a master’s degree from Saint Peter’s University in Jersey City, NJ; and bachelor’s degree from Stockton University in Pomona, NJ.

“Reynolds was blessed to receive an array of well-qualified candidates interested in serving as the next president of the college. This made our job very difficult. We selected a person who we believe is extremely well-qualified,” said Stephen E. Baril, chair of the Reynolds Community College local board. “She received outstanding reviews from faculty, staff, community leaders, and the College Board. We are delighted that Dr. Paula Pando has accepted our offer to be the next president of our college.”

Pando will become the college’s fourth president, succeeding Dr. Gary Rhodes, who will retire on September 1 after serving in that role for 16 years.


Serving over 16,000 students annually, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College is the youngest and third largest of 23 community colleges in Virginia. The College operates three campuses serving residents in the City of Richmond and the counties of Henrico, Hanover, Goochland, Powhatan and Louisa.

Reynolds Recognizes 65 Graduates with

 Associates of Applied Science in Nursing



Reynolds recently recognized 65 students who completed the Associates of Applied Science degree in Nursing. The ceremony was held in the Lipman Auditorium of the Massey Library Technology Center and opened with a welcome by Reynolds Coordinator of Nursing Programs Elaine Beaupre and a greeting by Reynolds President Dr. Gary Rhodes. Dean of Nursing and Health Technologies and Professor of Nursing at Germanna Community College Patricia Lisk was the program speaker.

Clinical Awards were given in the areas of Fundamentals of Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing I, Maternity Nursing, Medical-Surgical Nursing II, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing, Nursing of Children, and Medical-Surgical Nursing III. Two special awards, The Evelyn Bacon Nursing Award and the Fran Stanley Nursing Award were also given.

The Reynolds’ Nursing Program is designed to prepare students to serve as collaborative members of nursing care teams and to provide direct care to patients in a variety of health service facilities and agencies. Upon satisfactory completion of the program, students are eligible to take the licensing examination to become Registered Nurses.


Monday, May 21, 2018

Meet Meredith & Tony Mullins

The Reynolds "Art Duo"

Professors, Reynolds Art Department


Pictured here: upper left, Meredith Mullins; upper right, Meredith's painting: Kind to Everything it Touches; lower left, Tony's paining: Prince; lower right, Tony Mullins.

An exhibit of Meredith and Tony's work will open Saturday, June 30 in the Workforce Development Building Conference Center Gallery on the Reynolds Parham Road Campus.

Question: Meredith, you grew up in Charlottesville. Tony, you grew up in Tennessee. You two met while attending Savannah College of Art and Design and moved to Glen Allen when Tony came to Reynolds. How does the Richmond area compare with your home towns?

Meredith: We have grown to love it here in Glen Allen, and it is a wonderful place to raise our family. Life in suburbia is quite different from where we both grew up. I spent my childhood as a faculty “brat” on the campus of a boy’s boarding school, tucked in the foothills of the Shenandoah National Park, west of Charlottesville. We lived with students and other faculty families in a tight-knit community. Blue Ridge School is an idyllic setting; 1,000 acres of woods, ponds, athletic facilities and historic American Gothic style stone buildings. I consider my “hometown” Blue Ridge School (St. George VA) and Dyke VA which is a tiny general store/post office one mile down the road. The isolation of being in the country was balanced by the freedom to roam the outdoors. My brothers and I could take off hiking or biking and my mother would tell us to blow a whistle if we needed help. By contrast, my children have a very active social life, with exposure to more varied cultural, academic and athletic opportunities.  

Tony: I grew up close to Knoxville, TN and Richmond reminds me somewhat of Knoxville. My hometown of Rockwood, TN is a small town that is nestled between the Cumberland Plateau and Watts Bar Lake. It’s a ruggedly beautiful area though the town itself looks a bit tired and worn. Richmond is of course far more vibrant, and a beautiful city in its own right, though I do miss the mountains and desperately miss the lakes of Tennessee.

Q: Do you know if you are the only married teaching couple at Reynolds?

M: I believe so, but I’m not positive. I call us “The Reynolds Art Duo”. We have been married 19 years and teaching together at Reynolds for nearly 14 years. Tony started teaching at Reynolds in 2004 and I came on board a year later. 

T: I’m certain there have been others, but I’m unaware of another married couple currently teaching at the college.

Q: You are heading out on a special trip this summer with your three children. Please explain what makes this trip special.

M: We are embarking on our “Epic Western Trip, Part II”. We will pack up the minivan and drive across the country to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone NP and Grand Tetons NP. We plan to tent camp, ride horses, hike and hopefully avoid close encounters with wildlife. Two years ago, we camped up to Acadia ME and all the way up to Prince Edward Island and then Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, Canada. The previous year, we camped in Yellowstone and the Tetons for the first time and realized that we would need to return to fully experience it all. These “epic” trips are a way to give our children a taste of the outdoors that was so important to Tony and I growing up. 

T: I want my kids to see the country, understand how vast our nation is and how geographically and culturally diverse it truly is. Travel expands horizons, opens minds and fires the imagination. I am fortunate that my online teaching during the summer here at Reynolds allows me to make these journeys. 

Q: You are both involved with lots of activities in addition to your professional lives as artists and teachers. How do you find and manage the time for all the things you want to do? 

M: I am the Queen of Lists. I plan ahead for work deadlines, our three kids’ activities/sports and Tony’s band practices/gigs. A decade ago we started running to model a healthy lifestyle for our children. We usually run the RVA half-marathon and the Monument 10k, along with several other local 5ks.  We train several times a week; I run in the mornings and Tony runs in the evenings.  

My family is the priority during the day, so I often paint from 8 pm - 1 am and then the next day take a mid morning nap after the kids go to school. When I’m on a roll with a painting, I try to squeeze in an hour or two in the afternoons. 

T: I rely pretty heavily on my phone calendar. I run, paint, draw, game and make music in creative spurts, focusing on one or the other as my mood or need dictates. I am a late night creative person so I’m often painting into the wee hours of my home studio (currently in flux due to our recent move) or at the college studio during office hours, between semesters, etc. 

Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching art at Reynolds?

M: The most rewarding gift is the surge of creative energy that I feel after teaching studio class classes. When students grow artistically, their excitement and pride is like a shared electric current.  

T: Helping art students avoid all the mistakes that I made and getting them ready for their next steps. I’m a former community college kid myself so I’ve walked the same path that they’re on now.

Q: How have your artistic styles changes over time?

M: I still obsessively paint the figure and my style has changed very little in 25 years. Since my process is fairly laborious, I always seek more efficient ways to develop compositions and prepare surfaces so I can get painting quicker. 

T: Color and expression have always characterized what I do on canvas and paper. I bounce around from one subject to the next far more than I should, but I have an active imagination and enjoying tackling new challenges. In grad school and for many years thereafter, I was an exhibiting abstract painter who enjoyed many other subjects and techniques, but never really seriously pursued them. Today, I focus primarily on pop images of people who I find inspiring or present interesting painting opportunities. 

Q: If you could select a dream project what would it be?

M: My dream project would be to attend an artist’s retreat somewhere remote and beautiful where I could be engrossed in the environment and paint without distraction for several weeks. 

T: Somewhere in this country, there is a museum that needs colorful pop portraits of the great musicians enshrined therein. I’d like to be the artist that provides those.

Q: Do you ever work collaboratively as artists? As teachers?

M: We collaborated once to make a large mural and several life-sized figure paintings for a history museum in TN. We always work together to prepare for exhibitions - building/installing frames, painting the sides of paintings, and wiring/photographing/hanging artwork. We often counsel each other during our separate painting sessions. He points out areas that I need to refine and I tell him when his paintings are finished! 

We do not jointly teach together but since the curriculum overlaps in our classes, we often share teaching materials and project ideas.

T: Meredith and I actually work very closely in the development of content for the classes we teach. We’ve spent years working on the content for our Drawing course and Art Appreciation course.

Q: What advice do you give students pursuing a career as an artist?

M: A fine arts or commercial arts program helps students to produce a cohesive portfolio and learn professional practices. College is the perfect time for students to explore artistic styles, try out different media and discover what fuels their passion. Students can develop focus and confidence to choose their career path. In the meantime, I tell them to produce a lot of art, participate in exhibits and start an artist website. 

T: I tell them to work hard and be prepared to compete. Talent is not enough, as most people who make a living in the creative fields are ridiculously talented individuals. I also encourage them to develop their sense of persistence. You’ll be told “no” quite often, but persistence and work ethic are the keys to success, and this is probably true in most areas of life.

One other thing that needs to be said, art and a career in art goes far beyond simply making paintings and drawings. Two of the most lucrative industries in the world are stuffed to the brim with artists and other creatives; film and gaming. Far too many parents and counselors have a myopic view that an art degree leads one to the life of the stereotypical starving artist. Whether it’s the latest big budget Disney film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, or the latest release by a huge gaming company like Blizzard or Bethesda, those endeavors require a massive amount of creative work produced by, yes, you guessed it; artists.

Q: If you won the mega millions lottery, what would you do first with the money?

M: After essential finances were settled, I’d travel abroad each summer, letting each family member pick a destination. I would love to visit Scotland and New Zealand. 

T: Pay off the rest of the mortgage; stock some money away for the kids to go to ridiculously expensive colleges. I’d then buy a nice fishing boat, get a lifetime fishing license in Tennessee and off to the lake I’d go. I wouldn’t change my teaching schedule at all really since I love what I do. There’s a pretty good chance I’d splurge on a vintage guitar; a 50s era Gibson J-45 or J-50, and maybe 40s era Martin D-28 or D-18. I suppose I’d have to take Mere to Scotland, though we’d manage some time in Ireland while we were at it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Reynolds Receives $250,000 Grant from Dominion Energy


Reynolds receives $250,000 grant from Dominion Energy to
support culinary and workforce education opportunities in Richmond’s East End


Reynolds Community College has received a $250,000 grant from the Dominion Energy Charitable Foundation to support need-based scholarships for residents of Richmond’s East End community. 

Dominion Energy’s investment helps bring to life a vibrant extension of Reynolds' footprint, broadening access to the college’s award-winning Culinary Arts program as well as dozens of other occupational and academic programs. Construction of a new state-of-the-art facility at the corner of 25th and Nine Mile Road in Church Hill began late last year. The facility is expected to open for classes in the fall of 2019 and will double culinary enrollment capacity. It will also help develop a talent pipeline of skilled culinary and hospitality professionals critically needed in Richmond’s burgeoning food scene.

“Richmond’s restaurant industry is on fire right now, so it’s the right time to invest in the programs and people that will make our community more vibrant and livable,” said Mark O. Webb, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Chief Legal Officer, Dominion Energy.

“Dominion Energy’s generous investment will help Reynolds offer education and training opportunities that lead to sustainable employment and economic security,” said Dr. Gary L. Rhodes, Reynolds President. “At the end of the day it’s really families and communities that will benefit from this project.”

The college’s new space will also serve as a key access point for career planning, financial aid, enrollment assistance and job placement. A free shuttle for all students, which will loop from the East End site to the downtown and Parham Road campuses, will ease transportation and expand career preparation options for residents. 

Reynolds has engaged numerous partners throughout the life of the project, including the City of Richmond’s Office of Community Wealth Building, Virginia Commonwealth University, Bon Secours Richmond Health System, and leaders in philanthropy, small business, and the corporate and faith-based communities.

“This project is a great example of what can happen when we all work together,” said Webb. “It’s setting the stage for more great projects to come in and around downtown Richmond.”


Chemistry is EVERYTHING!

Meet Ella Thomas – Powhatan ACA


Ella Thomas is young, but she has the serious, brow-knitted focus of an Olympic competitor. Mention chemistry or the University of Virginia and instantly her serious face lights up with a broad smile and twinkling eyes. “Chemistry is EVERYTHING,” Ella says, “it’s in everything, it’s all around us.” As for the University of Virginia, that’s where she has been accepted by early decision and is headed in the fall.

Ella Thomas is one of 19 students in the first Reynolds Advance College Academy class at Powhatan High School graduating with her Associates Degree from Reynolds in May, before receiving her high school diploma from Powhatan High School in June.

These first Powhatan ACA graduates got their start in the program in 2014 when they were in the 8th grade. The Reynolds ACA programs give students the opportunity to earn an associates degree in social sciences while also earning a high school diploma in advanced studies. All 8th grade students are eligible to apply for the ACA. Once accepted students begin taking honors and AP level courses during the 9th and 10th grades and dual enrollment college courses during the 11th and 12th grades, earning a total of 60 college credits. 

While the ACA Powhatan graduates began this process four years ago with their application to the program, it was clear Ella was a candidate for such an opportunity by the time she was in 2nd grade. She was tested and moved in to a “TAG” (Talented and Gifted) program where she was told about the Reynolds ACA and encouraged to apply once she was eligible. Her early gifted programs had games and challenges, but Ella said, “I used to breeze through school.” Then came ACA, and she said, “I really had to do something. I really had to work hard. I became more independent and disciplined. My parents didn’t push. They let me do my thing, but they made sure I worked.”

Given her focused mind, Ella’s passion for science, specifically biochemistry, is understandable. “In science everything is concrete. There is a single answer to questions, it’s not open to interpretation.” She shakes her head, “History is not my thing. I like straightforward answers.” Ella’s passion for biochemistry is also personal. She would like to research and create new drugs and be involved in the process of finding cures. She has experienced healthcare first-hand and knows what it means to need drugs. Ella has cystic fibrosis.

When asked what advice she would give students thinking about applying for the ACA, without hesitation she says, “It’s not for the weak of heart. It’s a lot of hard work. But, it’s great. Even if you don’t know what you’re going to do, it [the program] lets you explore lots of things and figure out what you like and don’t like. It’s very rewarding to get two years of college out of the way before the end of high school.” Is she ready for UVA? “I hope I am,” she says, followed quickly by, “I know I am.”

Reynolds ACA Career Coach at Powhatan High School Rick Cole reflected on this first Powhatan ACA cohort group, “This has been a terrific group of students who have truly chosen a road less traveled.  They were willing to take a risk and they have persevered in what is one of the most challenging programs at their high school. They have been willing to give up an easier path with the faith that their hard work would pay off as they transitioned to college. They have done extremely well and they have set a very high bar for succeeding cohorts. We have learned so much from our ACA "pioneers" at Powhatan High School. Their questions and feedback have enabled us to make several small tweaks that have resulted in a much stronger program for the classes that have followed them”.

Congratulations, Ella! Congratulations, Powhatan ACA graduates! Job well done. The entire Reynolds community wishes you the very best.