Staff Contact:

Andrea J. Burney, APR

Director of  Public Relations



Dr. Bruce Scism

Dr. Bruce R. Scism is Danville Community College's fifth president.

DANVILLE, VA, August 6, 2013 – Dr. Bruce Scism spent the first few days on his new job as president of Danville Community College by moving into his office; getting to know the faculty, staff and students who stopped by to meet him; and conducting media interviews.

“DCC is very stable and doing a lot of good things, especially in workforce development and student success,? Scism says explaining his interest in DCC. “The Virginia Community College System has a strong reputation. The College (DCC) has a good, solid foundation and the key is to build upon these strengths.?

Scism began his duties as DCC’s fifth president on August 1, succeeding Dr. Carlyle Ramsey, who held the position for 21 years. He acknowledges Ramsey’s efforts, and says his priorities are to expand the good work started in economic development and workforce services and promote student success.

“All of this has been good work. Now we have to take it to the next level. I want to look at the academic programs that we offer, and see where they are trending and what the needs are for this area. The goal is to train students for success,? he adds.

Prior to coming to DCC, Scism was vice president of academic affairs at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin, TN, for five years. Scism also served as interim president at Volunteer State from October 2011 to May 2012. He was chief academic officer at Lee College, a comprehensive community college in Baytown, TX from 2006-2008, where he directed academic affairs including transfer, technical/vocational programs, and workforce development.

Previously, he served as vice president for academic affairs and student services at Triton College in River Grove, IL (2002-2006) and as associate vice president for instructional technology at Triton College (2001-2002). He was coordinator of the Illinois Prairie Higher Education Consortium and the Illinois Prairie Internet Consortium from 1999-2001, and served as director of virtual learning at Lake Land College in Mattoon, IL, from 1998-2000. He also previously served as an elected member of the Charleston, IL City Council from 1985-1993, and was re-elected and served from 1997 to 2001.

Scism is no stranger to Southside Virginia. He proudly discusses his deep roots in the area. He was born in the hospital in Danville, VA to parents, Tom and the late Shirley Chilton Scism, who had a tobacco farm in Pelham, NC. The family moved to Chapel Hill, NC, and later to Illinois, where Scism finished high school. His father, Tom, still resides in the Pelham community. His maternal grandparents lived in Danville, and he frequently visited the area to see his grandmother, Ella Mae Chilton, who died in 2007 at the age of 96. He has an uncle, Jack Scism, and aunt, Nancy Scism, formerly of Danville, who now reside in Greensboro, NC. He notes Nancy was even employed at DCC in the early 1970’s. Scism has a brother who lives in Wilmington, NC.

“My short-term goal is to get to know the people –internal and external and their perspectives. I want to learn of any shortcomings the College may have and work to overcome them,? Scism says. “I also want to build upon those relationships that are crucial to the College.?

Scism notes that he understands the challenges that students have in deciding what to do after high school. He explains that he was unsure of what he wanted to do himself after finishing high school and that he was not strongly committed to continuing his education. Instead his dad enrolled him in a community college, and he attended several years taking classes off and on. But eventually the spark was ignited and he transferred to Eastern Illinois University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science. He earned his Doctor of Education Degree (Ed.D) in Community College Leadership from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

“One of the pressing problems facing community colleges is how do we attract people who otherwise don’t see themselves as college bound to give college a try,? Scism says. “Once you become interested in learning, you can’t get enough of it. That’s what happened to me. The key is how do you take what’s routine and make it relevant.

“I am very interested in economic development and student success,? he continues. “As a community college we want to know what’s relevant in the student’s life today and let’s prepare him or her for that.?

Scism adds that he plans to be very visible on the DCC campus and in the community.

“I want to capture a lot of feedback from students and the community. I want to know what they like about their experiences here,? he says. “I plan to be very approachable and have regular opportunities for listening to this feedback.?

Scism adds that he plans to increase access to the community college through creative delivery options, such as developing additional certifications, alternative scheduling, and fast-track delivery of education. At all times, Scism says student success will be the focal point at DCC.

Scism’s other areas of interest include music and the arts. He describes himself as a “strong proponent? of the humanities - performance and fine arts. An accomplished musician, Scism is a singer and songwriter and publisher at Scism Music. He also plays piano, guitar, and bass, and says he is learning the mandolin and fiddle. He has had some success with placements in professional music libraries and has earned recognition for his music, including being a finalist for Songwriter of the Year and Song of the Year Awards by Houston Fort Bend Songwriters' Association (2007). Several of his musical compositions have been nominated for “Best of Song U?.

“This (music) is another way to reach out to people who do not see themselves as college bound. The arts can bring a sense of engagement and sense of belonging on campus,? Scism explains. As an example, he says he developed an associate degree in bluegrass music at Volunteer State Community College, which has had success in attracting students.?

In addition to settling into his new job, he and his wife, Beth, are also settling into their new home. The couple has three children: son, Joel, a police officer in Illinois; son, Taylor, a recent nursing graduate at Cape Fear Community College (NC); and daughter, Jaclyn, a bank employee in Illinois, who is also a singer and songwriter.

“I am looking forward to getting acquainted with the campus and the community and in letting them get to know me,? Scism says.


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