On July 1, Dabney S. Lancaster Community College’s name was officially changed to Mountain Gateway Community College where Dr. John Rainone would soon begin his tenth year as the community college’s president on July 8.
Dr. Rainone led the ceremony on July 1, for the unveiling of the new Mountain Gateway Community College’s sign.
Speaking at the podium during the ceremony, Rainone observed, “Today the name has changed, but the mission remains the same.”
Three weeks later following Rainone’s fulfilling of his duties as president of the Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism by leading the Ribbon Cutting Celebration for Ridgely Bed, Breakfast and Gardens in Clifton Forge, Rainone expressed his optimism about the path forward for Mountain Gateway Community College.
Seated at a conference room table at Mountain Gateway Community College, Rainone, the community college’s fourth president, remarked, “We’re a comprehensive community college where we offer transfer programs and workforce programs.”
He noted, “Some people think about us as nursing and forestry only, but we’re a lot more.”
Mountain Gateway Community College has the only two-year forestry program in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and it has been turning out certified foresters for more than 50 years.
Rainone observed, “We have an electrical and instrumentation program that serves the needs of companies like WestRock.”
He continued, “We also have a very successful commercial driving license program.”
“In that program students can complete training and receive their licenses in less than 60 days,” he added.
“So, a student can come here for weeks and earn a credential or come here for 12 months or 24 months and earn a certificate or a degree,” Rainone remarked.
Since Rainone became president of the community college on July 8, 2013, he has hired an athletic director and established men’s basketball as a sport.
Rainone said, “Athletics serve as a basic strategy to expand enrollment at the college, and we have added five athletic programs on top of the men’s basketball.”
He added, “Our athletic program gives students the opportunity to come here and compete for two years on the college level.”
Citing the lack of housing in the area as a problem, he noted that the apartment building under construction adjacent to the YMCA in Low Moor is a step in the right direction to solve the problem.
Rainone said, “I think that the project is a wonderful start.”
He continued, “We do have students outside of our region and state.”
Recently, students from Tenn., N.C. and W. Va. have enrolled at Mountain Gateway Community College.
Rainone explained that the recruiting area for student athletes has been Alleghany, Bath, Botetourt, and Rockbridge counties but with the expansion of sports the recruitment area has been expanded to include the Roanoke area and beyond.
Consequently, more housing will be needed as Mountain Gateway Community College continues to increase its enrollment with out-of-town students.
He concluded, “The housing issue is a challenge, one for the whole community.”
Rainone is from Providence, R.I., and he holds a doctor’s degree from Nova Southeastern University.
Also, he is a graduate of the League for Innovation Executive Institute, and he has completed the Harvard University Seminar for First-Year Presidents.
In 2020, he received the “Entrepreneurial President of the Year” award from the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship.
Rainone has received many other awards during his 30 years of experience as a teacher, administrator and chief executive officer at Mountain Gateway Community College where he continues to provide inspirational leadership.