Secretary of Education to speak at PDCCC graduation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Secretary of Education Belle S. Wheelan will be the speaker for Paul D. Camp Community College’s graduation exercises to be held at 7 p.m. on May 14 at the College’s Regional Workforce Development Center in Franklin.

Dr. Belle S. Wheelan received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity University in Texas with a double major in psychology and sociology. While at Trinity University, she distinguished herself as an Academic Scholar. She was the first African-American at Trinity University to be named to Who’s Who in American Colleges and Universities.

Upon graduation, Dr. Wheelan enrolled in Louisiana State University and received a Master of Arts degree in Developmental/Educational Psychology. Subsequently, she accepted employment as an assistant professor of psychology at San Antonio College and held that position for ten years.

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In 1982, Dr. Wheelan enrolled in the Community College Leadership Program at the University of Texas and earned a Doctoral degree in Educational Administration in 1984. In 1992, she received the Distinguished Graduate Award from the College of Education at the University.

After obtaining her doctorate, Dr. Wheelan accepted the position as Director of Developmental Education at San Antonio College. She established a new administrative office, and became the Director of Academic Support Services at the College.

In September of 1987, Dr. Wheelan came to Virginia as the Dean of Student Services at Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia. In that position she had overall responsibility for the areas of Admissions and Records, Counseling, Financial Aid, Student Activities, Assessment, and minority recruitment.

In August of 1989, Dr. Wheelan assumed the position as the provost of the Portsmouth campus of Tidewater Community College in Portsmouth, Virginia. That position is the chief executive officer of the campus and has responsibility for all of its undertakings.

January 1, 1992, found Dr Wheelan on her way to Lynchburg to accept the position of President of Central Virginia Community College. She is the first African-American female to serve as president of a two- or four-year public institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

July, 1, 1998, began her role as President of Northern Virginia Community College, the second largest community college in the nation.

In December, 2001, Dr. Wheelan was appointed as Secretary of Education to Governor Warner’s Cabinet. She was sworn in as the Secretary on January 13, 2002, and is the first African-American female to serve in this capacity.

Dr. Wheelan holds memberships in numerous state and national organizations including the Presidents’ Round Table of the National Council on Black American Affairs, the Jobs for Virginia Graduates Board, and the Government Affairs Committee of the American Council of Education. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Northern Virginia Family Services, Northern Virginia Round Table, Medical Care for Children Project, Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, the Tower Club, the Northern Virginia Regional Partnership, and Virginians for the Arts.

, Virginia Economic Bridge, and the Women’s Forum of D.C.

Dr. Wheelan attributes her success to hard work, endurance, tenacity, and being in the right place at the right time. She recognizes that prayer, hard work, and support from family and friends make anything possible.

Dr. Wheelan is the mother of a 19-year-old son named Reginald.