New TCC campus set to meet rising demand

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Since the beginning of the school year, Tidewater Community College has been grappling with a surge in student enrollment of more than 20 percent. As luck would have it, the college’s new $65 million campus in Portsmouth is set to open in time for spring semester.

“I’d like to tell you that we planned it this way, but the truth is, this couldn’t have come at a better time for us,” says Dr. Deborah DiCroce, president of TCC.

TCC expects to serve 47,000 students during the current school year at its campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach.

The Fred W. Beazley Portsmouth Campus replaces TCC’s original campus, opened in 1968, which had been stretched to its maximum capacity of 9,000 students. The new campus will initially serve 10,000 students in 34 academic programs. The 35-acre site includes four buildings providing 183,000 square feet of space.

The new facilities will allow TCC to accommodate growing demand for degrees in areas such as health care and computer-aided drafting and design, DiCroce says.

“The programming is directly tied to the projected economic demands of the region, Portsmouth and the state,” DiCroce explains. “We took our lead from what the economic development world said it needed and what employers said they needed.”

For example, the new facilities will double the school’s ability to train nurses, producing 200 graduates a year. TCC also will be able to double its turnout of HVAC specialists and triple its capacity to train students in welding, a much-needed skill in the area’s shipbuilding, construction and transportation industries.

Over time, the campus will be expanded to 350,000 square feet of space to accommodate nearly 17,000 students. The new campus was paid for with real estate donations and grants from the state, Portsmouth and the Beazley Foundation.

The school also received a $4.7 million authorization from the Portsmouth Public School Board to develop a First College Program. The program will enable local high school students to enroll in college-level courses on the new campus.

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