SYLVA – During a recent meeting, Southwestern Community College’s Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to name the new Health Sciences Center in honor of Dr. Don Tomas – SCC’s President.
The 55,000-square-foot facility will be officially named the Don Tomas Health Sciences Center. New signage is in process and will be installed this fall.
“Dr. Tomas played a pivotal role in securing the funding for – and overseeing the planning and construction of – our beautiful new building,” said Lambert Wilson, Chair of SCC’s Board of Trustees. “Thanks to his efforts and the support of our local elected officials and community leaders, we are able to provide the very latest advances in training technology for future generations of healthcare professionals.”
Completed in the summer of 2021, the Don Tomas Health Sciences Center houses 10 of Southwestern’s 16 Health Sciences programs. Five of the remaining programs now enjoy expanded space in the Balsam Center. And Therapeutic Massage has its own dedicated lab and classroom in Founders Hall.
The new construction allowed SCC to add Surgical Technology and Opticianry as career pathways. Southwestern also plans to add Dental Assisting in the Fall of 2023.
“I am especially proud to name the building in honor of Dr. Tomas because he’s done so much for Southwestern and the communities we serve,” said Vance Davidson, Vice Chair of SCC’s Board of Trustees. “Under his leadership, SCC has been ranked multiple times among the Top 10 community colleges in the country – and we were a semifinalist for the prestigious Aspen Prize this year.
“And Dr. Tomas’ emphasis on the SCC Foundation has helped us create a culture of philanthropy that’s put higher education within reach for hundreds of students who would otherwise be unable to obtain a college degree,” Davidson added.
When Dr. Tomas became SCC’s president in 2011, only a couple dozen students received financial assistance through the SCC Foundation. During the current academic year, 187 students received a total of $210,000 in scholarship support.
Shortly after arriving at Southwestern, Dr. Tomas helped launch the Student Success Campaign – an effort that ultimately yielded the first million-dollar endowment in school history.
The college’s annual fundraising gala has raised more than $530,000 since the inaugural event in 2015. All proceeds support students who might otherwise not be able to afford tuition and fees.
“I like to think about how many students are able to pursue their dreams and enjoy fulfilling careers because of this additional scholarship funding,” said Wilson, who along with Wendy LeMay serves as co-chair of the Gala Planning Committee. “Because Dr. Tomas has made scholarship fundraising a priority, the foundation has been able to enjoy unprecedented growth. That’s just another reason it seems fitting to name this building in honor of Dr. Tomas.”
For more information about Southwestern and the programs it offers, visit www.SouthwesternCC.edu, call 828.339.4000 or drop by your nearest SCC location.