Wytheville Community College Honors Compton and Harrington

Wytheville Community College (WCC) president, Dr. Dean Sprinkle, recently recognized two respected educators for distinguished teaching and service. 

Louise B. Compton is the recipient of the 2022 WCC Distinguished Service Award. Compton was recruited to the faculty of WCC in 1968 to establish the third associate degree nursing program in the Virginia Community College System and the only nursing program in Southwest Virginia at the time to prepare graduates to apply for licensure as registered nurses.  She developed the curriculum within the guidelines of the VCCS, recruited and interviewed applicants, contracted with appropriate clinical agencies and established an advisory committee.  She selected a nursing faculty whose members possessed diverse clinical nursing experiences and strong academic credentials. In order to maintain contact with students and agencies alike, she consistently assigned herself to supervise a clinical group. 

In addition to her leadership of the nursing program, she also served for two years as Chairperson for other Allied Health programs, including Medical Laboratory Technology, Dental Assisting and Mental Health Technology. A self-study of the nursing program resulted in accreditation by the National League for Nursing (NLN) in 1974. She was well-known and widely respected as a valuable consultant to other colleges that were developing two-year nursing programs. During the twenty-plus years she chaired the nursing program at WCC, its fifteen hundred graduates consistently performed well on Virginia State Board of Nursing examinations and were employed throughout Southwest Virginia, and elsewhere, in virtually every area of nursing practice. 

In addition to her leadership role at WCC, she was very active professionally—a member of the Virginia Council of Associate Degree Nursing Education, the American and Virginia Nurses’ Associations, the American Association of University Women, and the WCC Faculty Government Association. She also served as an accreditation visitor for the National League for Nursing and as a member of the NLN Associate Degree Accreditation Board. She also served in the United States Army Nurse Corps Reserves for 13 years. 

After her retirement, Compton provided hands-on professional nursing care to hospitalized veterans at the Veterans’ Administration Medical Center in Salem from April 1993 until July 2011. In recognition of her many accomplishments, she was named WCC Professor Emeritus in 1993. Later, the Department of Nursing established an award in her name that is presented annually to an outstanding graduating nursing student.

This year’s recipient of the 2022 Distinguished Teaching Award is WCC alumnus, Jim Harrington. After many years as a respected member of the law enforcement community in Southwest Virginia, he joined the WCC faculty in 2018 as Assistant Professor of Administration of Justice/Corrections Science. 

Through his teaching, he shares his professional experience with students. During his tenure, he has worked to secure state-of-the-art technology to enhance student learning and prepare students for the challenges of careers in law enforcement and corrections science. He was recently asked to serve on a state-wide task force that reviewed and revised law enforcement curricula for all VCCS colleges.

Beyond his contributions to teaching and curriculum development, he mentors students through his sponsorship of the WCC Administration of Justice/Corrections Science Club. He has taken students on numerous field trips to correctional facilities and forensic labs. He and the students have also participated in several community events where they have helped fingerprint children and provide safety programs. He also regularly visits area high schools to promote his programs and recruit students.

The Distinguished Service Award and the Distinguished Teaching Award were established by Nathaniel W. Pendleton, Jr. in memory of his father, Nathaniel Willis Pendleton, Sr., to recognize and encourage excellence in teaching and service at Wytheville Community College. Nathaniel Willis Pendleton was Wythe County's representative in the Virginia House of Delegates, who together with State Senator D. Woodrow Bird, introduced the necessary enabling bills in the 1962 General Assembly to establish WCC and appropriate its operating funds. 


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