by Joan Tupponce
Tidewater Community College President Deborah M. DiCroce is busy overseeing not only the college’s new Regional Health Professions Center but also the launch of a comprehensive School of Retail.
The new school, which will offer two-year degrees, was the brainchild of Gerald Divaris, chairman and CEO of Divaris Real Estate Inc. in Virginia Beach. “I’ve been working on the idea of a retail school for many years,” he says.
Divaris sees the retail sector as a major contributor to a sound economy and believes that it can be a good career builder. “Many people enter retail thinking it’s a dead-end job,” he says. “They don’t understand it’s a career path, and that’s because of a lack of education.”
The school’s first focus will be customer service. “We want to get that component up and functioning,” DiCroce says. Other offerings will include subjects such as supply chain and business plan development, demographics analysis, and retail and shopping center management.
Tidewater is conducting a national search for a director of the School of Retail. “We expect to have a director on board by early fall,” DiCroce says.
Fall also will mark the first semester for the college’s Regional Health Professions Center. The approximately $35 million, 65,000-square-foot project will open in August. “It’s a one-of-a-kind facility for Hampton Roads,” DiCroce says. “It was fashioned to respond to the growing needs of the health-care industry.”
The center will have hospital-grade equipment, 20 laboratories and 10 human patient simulation rooms that include a sleep lab, an ambulance area and a doctor’s office. The center also will include a two-story apartment that will be used for training physical and occupational therapists in a home setting.
The 15 academic programs offered range from emergency medical services to health information management. In the future, the center may add other programs such as mammography technician, ophthalmology technician and electronic health records system engineering. “It’s pretty exciting,” says DiCroce. “We already have students applying.”
The center will share a common area with the new headquarters for Operation Smile, a worldwide charity organization that provides surgery for children with severe cleft palates. “The synergies and collaborative possibilities between Operation Smile and our center will add the value of real world training for students,” DiCroce says.
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