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Psychology Professor James O’Brien among 12 winners in statewide competition

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (Jan. 26, 2011) – Tidewater Community College Professor James P. O’Brien has been chosen to receive a 2011 Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award by the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and Dominion Resources. The 12 recipients, announced today by SCHEV, will each receive $5,000 and an engraved award and will be honored in Richmond on Feb. 17.

The Outstanding Faculty Awards (OFA) program, established in 1986 by SCHEV, the General Assembly and the governor, recognizes excellence in teaching, research, knowledge integration and public service among the faculties of Virginia’s public and private colleges and universities. A committee of education, business and civic leaders assists SCHEV in selecting the recipients – this year from 106 entries – based on contributions to their students, academic disciplines, institutions and communities.

For O’Brien, this award comes on the heels of winning the Virginia Professor of the Year Award from the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) this fall. 

“Once again, we’re so very proud to claim Professor O’Brien – an esteemed scholar who has dedicated his career in service to students and scientific inquiry,” says TCC President Deborah M. DiCroce. “Jim richly deserves this recognition for the high quality of his life’s work in higher education.”  

O’Brien’s impact goes beyond the classroom, inspiring students to work collaboratively with him to conduct experiments and publish their findings. More than 80 of O’Brien’s students have co-authored over 40 research papers, with some going on to become professors, researchers and academic leaders.

He has served as president of the Virginia Academy of Science, was named an Academy Fellow in 1997 and is currently its delegate to the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Academies of Science. He is a member of Old Dominion University’s Darden College of Education Advisory Board and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine appointed him to the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum of Virginia where he chairs the Science Education Committee. O’Brien also received the inaugural Chancellor’s Award for Teaching Excellence from the Virginia Community College System in 2007 and was twice named a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professor. He is listed in Who’s Who in America 2011.

Professor O’Brien holds a B.A. in psychology from the University of Richmond, an M.S. in general-applied psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in human factors psychology with a minor concentration in systems design and engineering from the Catholic University of America.

O’Brien resides in Norfolk with his wife, Mary Louise; they have three sons – Christopher, Andrew and Marquis.

For more on the Outstanding Faculty Awards, see, on SCHEV’s website. SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education.


Laurie White

Tidewater Community College - the largest provider of higher education and Workforce Solutions services in Hampton Roads - topped 45,000 students in 2009-10. The 16th highest associate-degree producer in the nation, TCC offers more than 150 programs including business administration, culinary arts, general studies, modeling & simulation, network security, nursing, and automotive technology. Among the fastest-growing two-year institutions in the United States, TCC was founded in 1968 as a part of the Virginia Community College System. The college serves the South Hampton Roads region with campuses in Chesapeake, Norfolk, Portsmouth and Virginia Beach as well as the TCC Jeanne and George Roper Performing Arts Center in Norfolk’s theater district, the Visual Arts Center in Olde Towne Portsmouth, the Regional Automotive Center in Chesapeake, and the Advanced Technology Center in Virginia Beach. Forty-five percent of the region’s residents attending a college or university in Virginia last fall were enrolled at TCC. For more information, visit