Optical Cable Corporation of Roanoke has earned the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy for its support of Virginia’s Community Colleges. The company and its President and CEO, Neil Wilkin Jr., were nominated for the award by Virginia Western Community College.  The award was given at luncheon ceremony at the Country Club of Virginia on April 19, 2016.

Hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education (VFCCE), the 11th annual event honors leading philanthropists from each of Virginia’s 23 community colleges as well as the statewide foundation. This year’s class of distinguished philanthropy leaders has contributed a combined total of more than $11 million dollars to Virginia’s Community Colleges.

Optical Cable Corporation began investing in Virginia Western Community College’s Community College Access Program (CCAP) in 2013 for students from Roanoke County. In 2014, it established the Optical Cable Corporation Endowed Scholarship to continue its support in perpetuity.

CCAP, serving the College’s entire service district, encourages local high school students to successfully complete high school, apply to and graduate college with a degree or certificate, and be prepared to transfer to a four-year institution or directly enter the workforce. Administered by the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation, the needs-based program covers the cost of tuition for two years at Virginia Western for students who meet program guidelines. More than 1,300 students have benefited from CCAP funding since program inception in 2009.

Headquartered in Roanoke, Optical Cable Corporation is a pioneer in the design and production of fiber optic cables. Today, OCC is internationally recognized as a leader in engineering and manufacturing a complete line of top-tier cabling and connectivity solutions, including products and solutions suitable for the most demanding applications.

Mr. Wilkin’s support of Virginia Western has been clearly demonstrated in his energetic and dedicated commitment to the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors for seven years, serving on its Executive Committee as Treasurer since 2009.  Mr. Wilkin has accepted the responsibilities of Vice Chairman of the Board for 2016.

“Mr. Wilkin’s executive leadership led to the fine-tuning of Virginia Western’s Educational Foundation financial processes and to the heightened advocacy of supplemental financial support for students. Mr. Wilkin represents the strength of the Educational Foundation Board of Directors,” said Dr. Angela M. Falconetti, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation.

Educational opportunities afforded through Virginia Western fit the employment needs of theRoanoke Valley. The generous donation by the Optical Cable Corporation to make college possible for local high school graduates through CCAP demonstrates the organization’s commitment to local and regional economic development.

“Optical Cable Corporation is a visionary leader in globally innovative efforts promoting economic vitality, and a strong local supporter of individual students, emerging as viable members of the region’s workforce,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western Community College.

At the luncheon, keynote speaker Mike Petters, president and CEO of Huntington Ingalls Industries, praised community college donors and said they play a critical role in Virginia’s workforce development efforts.

“By supporting the foundation, you support access, affordability, and student success at every one of Virginia’s Community Colleges across the state – from Big Stone Gap in southwestern Virginia to Melfa on the Eastern Shore, and 21 community colleges in between,” said Petters, a VFCCE board member.

Recipients of the 2016 Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy:

Blue Ridge Community College                                                          Robert E. and Frances W. Plecker Family

Central Virginia Community College                                                 Andrew H. and Anne O. Easley Trust

Dabney S. Lancaster Community College                                         Highlands Community Bank

Danville Community College                                                              Gene Haas Foundation

Eastern Shore Community College                                                     The Late Donald Trufant

Germanna Community College                                                          Adam and Rhonda Fried

  1. Sargeant Reynolds Community College Steve Esbach

John Tyler Community College                                                           John RandolphFoundation

Lord Fairfax Community College                                                       Luray Caverns Corporation

Mountain Empire Community College                                              Kline Foundation Board of Directors

New River Community College                                                           Giles County

Northern Virginia Community College                                              Jack Kent Cooke Foundation

Patrick Henry Community College                                                     Thomas P. Dalton Family

Paul D. Camp Community College                                                     Hampton Roads Community Foundation and Dr. Deborah DiCroce

Piedmont Virginia Community College                                             The Perry Foundation

Rappahannock Community College                                                  John and Susan Moore

Southside Virginia Community College                                             Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives

Southwest Virginia Community College                                            The Gaynelle Lockhart Albert Family

Thomas Nelson Community College                                                  Rotary Club of Newport News

Tidewater Community College                                                           Barnes & Noble College

Virginia Highlands Community College                                            Eastman Credit Union

Virginia Western Community College                                               Optical Cable Corporation and Neil D. Wilkin Jr.

Wytheville Community College                                                          Robert “Tom” and Patty DuPuis

Virginia Foundation for Community College Education             Eva T. Hardy

2016 Chancellor's Philanthropy Award OCC

Photo caption (left to right): Amanda Mansfield, Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation Donor Relations Coordinator; Dr. Angela M. Falconetti, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation; Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western Community College; Dr. Glenn DuBois, Virginia’s Community Colleges Chancellor; Neil Wilkin Jr., President, CEO and Chairman of Optical Cable Corporation; Marilyn Herbert-Ashton, Virginia Western Community College Director of Grants Development and Special Projects; and Stephanie Seagle, Virginia Western Community College Grant Specialist.