Patrick Tompkins has a passion for learning. It drives him as a teacher, a student and a leader. In 1993, he brought his love for the classroom to John Tyler Community College, where he is currently an associate professor of English and chair of the College’s Department of English. Tompkins says during his years at John Tyler, he’s learned that teaching goes beyond course subject matter and includes the creation of an environment that leads students to success. It’s also about realizing that students are not the only ones who are building their knowledge and honing their skills. “I have learned from these students; they are helping develop me,” says Tompkins, who is quick to add that the support of his peers, John Tyler Community College, and the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) also helps him grow. Tompkins always has been active in committee work and has been willing to share his knowledge and observations in presentations and papers, but his recent endeavors on the VCCS Reengineering Task Force ignited a desire to delve into other parts of the educational system. Through this work, Tompkins developed a keen interest in better understanding how all the pieces of a community college come together – from administration, finance and organization to student services, curriculum building and faculty and staff development. “The Task Force and the people on it really inspired me to broaden my perspective,” says Tompkins. It was while looking through this widened lens that Tompkins decided to put himself back into the classroom – this time as a student. He entered Old Dominion University’s Community College Leadership doctoral program.
Tompkins now will have the opportunity to focus solely on his degree work, thanks to the 2012-2013 Chancellor’s Fellowship. Tompkins was one of three faculty members in the entire VCCS to be awarded this prestigious fellowship, which will allow him to spend the next nine months working on coursework that will lead to a Ph.D. “This is a tremendous honor,” says Tompkins. “I never thought I’d get a Ph.D. It was never part of my plan. However, this program really fascinates me, and it teaches me subjects that I could not have easily learned on my own.” Tompkins, who is one year into the doctoral program, thanks the VCCS and John Tyler for supporting his continuing education. “Tyler is an amazing place to work. It has given me the opportunity to serve on committees, participate in professional development, advise a student group, serve the State Board in an advisory capacity, and more. The College has been so good to me that it makes me want to pay it forward, and it makes me realize that I can take what I’ve learned in the classroom and help develop talent on a different level.”
Dr. Marshall W. Smith, president of John Tyler, praised Tompkins for his work and for his achievements. “Associate Professor Tompkins has provided exemplary leadership to our Department of English, particularly in his professional development work with our adjunct faculty. He has made this group feel a part of the larger group and has provided significant opportunities for them to individually enhance their skills and their knowledge of the work of John Tyler.” Smith went on to say, “The College community is proud of Associate Professor Tompkins being named as one of three Chancellor’s Fellows for the coming year. It speaks to his commitment to the College and to his profession. His obtaining the terminal degree will allow him to consider opportunities for greater service and for new responsibilities.”
Tompkins currently holds a M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Virginia Commonwealth University; a M.A. in English from Iowa State University; a B.A. in English from Villanova University; and a B.A. in Philosophy from Villanova University.