Administrator Focuses on Putting Students First

Dr. J. Gregory “Greg” Hodges began his career as a third grade public school teacher, and had planned to stay in elementary education for the rest of his life. However, his career path took a turn and he soon became exposed to the higher education sphere.

Now, with more than 10 years of experience working in the field, the initial transition from elementary to postsecondary education “kind of just came to me,” Hodges said.

“A co-teacher on the same floor where I was working, was teaching an adjunct course at Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) and had a medical emergency at the very last minute, and asked me if I would mind stepping in for the evening and do a guest presentation to her class about classroom management, which had traditionally been one of my strengths,” Hodges said. “So I did, and as faith would have it, the supervising faculty member came in that evening to do an adjunct evaluation and happened to see me.”

After explaining why he was teaching the class to the supervising faculty member, Hodges said he ended up receiving a course request by the college.

“They asked [me] to teach a class, then a full time position became available and I applied for it and there you go.”

Born and raised in Ridgeway, Virginia – about a 10 minute drive to PHCC – Hodges earned a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and teaching from the College of William and Mary, a master’s degree in biblical studies from Bethany Theological Seminary, a master’s degree in educational leadership and supervision at the University of Phoenix and a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Trident University International.

Hodges has served in many roles since joining the PHCC faculty since 2004. He was the coordinator of the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan for Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaccreditation; assistant dean of Arts, Science and Business Technology; dean of Developmental Education and Transitional Programs; dean of Academic Success and College Transfer; and vice president of Institutional Advancement, Effectiveness and Campus Life.

Hodges service was even recognized in 2006 by the school, as he was named the Faculty Member of the Year at Patrick Henry.

Now, he is vice president for Academic & Student Success Services. In this role, Hodges monitors the academic, student success and support programs that the college operates in the Student Success Center.

Though all of the approximately 5,000 students pursuing academic and workforce programs are credit bearing, around 75 percent of them receive some form of student support services, he said.

He said that ensuring student success is the college’s main focus. In addition to several support programs and financial aid that’s offered to students, Patrick Henry recently launched a new initiative in partnership with the Harvest Foundation called the Harvest SEED program, which provides free community college to high school graduates from the Martinsville and Henry County communities who obtained a high school cumulative GPA of 2.5 or above.

“Most of our students are able to come to Patrick Henry for no cost to them or their families” as a result, Hodges said.

Hodges also serves as the executive director of Patrick Henry’s Southern Center for Active Learning Excellence (SCALE). Housed within the PHCC Foundation, the center was established as a result of the college joining the comprehensive nonprofit Achieving the Dream (ATD) movement for student success in 2004, when the initiative first launched.

Only 26 schools were involved at the time, Hodges said. The ATD movement now has over 220 higher ed partner institutions.

“One of the initiatives that we selected to improve our student success work was changing the culture of the classroom to a cooperative learning environment,” he said.

Hodges was among the faculty chosen to receive training on the subject.

“We came back to our campus and began infusing those strategies and working with our own faculty on our campus to implement those strategies,” said Hodges.

Hodges has visited over 50 community colleges across the country and helped facilitate workshops on cooperative learning, critical thinking and developmental education.

Outside of his work at Patrick Henry, Hodges is involved in his community and serves as senior pastor of Stanleytown’s Amazing Grace Baptist Church. He is also on the Board of Directors for multiple organizations including the Boys and Girls Club of Henry County.

Though he “loves” the work that he does on campus, graduation is truly Hodges’ favorite part about working in higher ed administration.

“Every time a student gets a credential, whether it’s a workforce credential or a certificate or associate’s degree, you’re providing that student with a ticket to the middle class for not only themselves, but their family,” said Hodges. “We are truly transforming lives in our community.”

Monica Levitan can be reached at [email protected]. You can follow her on Twitter @monlevy_

This article also appeared in Diverse: Issues In Higher Education.

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