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NOVA History Collections

NOVA History Collections documents the history of Northern Virginia Community College as it has grown from a few classrooms in a small warehouse in Bailey’s Crossroads to one of the largest community colleges in the nation.

About the NOVA History Collections

The NOVA History Collections include commencement programs, annual reports, yearbooks, an oral history and other documents from the history of NOVA. Commencement programs include a list of graduates from each year as well as names of speakers. Two early annual reports from NOVA and the Virginia Community College System are sources of information about the community college system in its early days. NOVA published yearbooks with photos of students, faculty, staff and facilities from 1967 to 1969. In 1987, NOVA published Northern Virginia Community College: An Oral History 1965-1985. It included interviews with college administrators, Virginia elected officials, faculty and students. This project was initiated in 2009 by David Anderson, a librarian at the Alexandria Campus Library. Our collections include over 3,000 pages of content and over 600 items.


NOVA History

Northern Virginia Community College was established in 1964 under the name Northern Virginia Technical College. In the fall of 1965, the College opened with 761 students in a single building in Bailey’s Crossroads under President Robert W. McKee. To accommodate an ever-growing student body, the college purchased 78 acres in Annandale in 1966 to create the first of six permanent campus sites. That same year, the College was renamed Northern Virginia Community College when the Statewide General Assembly changed the name of the technical college system to the Virginia Community College System (VCCS).

In 1967, NOVA opened the new building on the Annandale campus and continued to expand with the purchase of 100 acres for new campus sites in Sterling, Manassas and Woodbridge, Virginia. This air of growth and change continued with the introduction of Dr. Richard J. Ernst as president in the fall of 1968 and the purchase of an additional campus site in Alexandria in 1969. 

Expanding the goal to serve students of all types, NOVA opened the Extended Learning Institute in 1975 to accommodate individuals who wanted an education but could not accommodate a traditional program into their schedule. On the heels of the start of Dr. Belle S. Wheelan as president in 1998, Northern Virginia Community College purchased a site that would become the Medical Campus in 2000 and opened educational centers in Arlington and Reston, Virginia. In 2010, a new center was added to NOVA, Innovation Park.

Today, under the guidance of Dr. Anne Kress, NOVA offers more than 160 associate degree and certificate programs to 75,000 students from 150 countries.

Student Publications

Looking for first-hand reporting of NOVA history as it happened? Check out our collection of student publications.

2004-2008: The Student Voice

1973-2003: The Collective

1970-1984: The Parthian Shot

1974: NVCC Happenings

1973: Volksgiest

1967-1970: The Burgess Record

1970-1972: Okra

1969: The Eastern Campus Newsletter

1966-1967: The Galaxy

Yearbooks & Event Programs

Did you graduate from NOVA? We have digitized several yearbooks and commencement programs from 1967-2015.

1980: Annuendo

1969: The Commonwealth Yearbook

1968: The Commonwealth Yearbook

1967: NOVA Comet Yearbook

1967— 2015: Commencement Programs

Other Items of Interest

We've also digitized other primary materials of interest to the NOVA community:

  • Photographs: campus plans, notable people at NOVA, campus and college events
  • NOVA and VCCS annual reports
  • Campus council minutes
  • College catalogs (select semesters, 1966-1969)
  • Oral histories