The man affectionately known as "Mr. Mid-Plains" will be honored with a President's Award during the North Platte Community College commencement ceremony next week.
Tom Gorman dedicated his life to his community and higher education, and NPCC wants to recognize him for his efforts. Gorman passed away last year. His family will receive the award on his behalf.
"The President's Award is a wonderful honor for the many years of service Tom provided to North Platte Community College," said Lynda Gorman, Tom's wife. "But, he would be the first to acknowledge that he never would have achieved this extraordinary award if not for the dedicated staff, excellent teachers and the encouragement of the administration. He was motivated and lucky enough to find a job he loved with all his heart, giving all he could to adult education and community service."
Tom was one of the early pioneers at NPCC. He was hired in 1970, at which time, the college went by the name North Platte Junior College and was housed in what is now the Prairie Arts Center.
Tom was initially hired to teach typing, accounting and other business courses. He also replaced Jim Ihrig as director of the fledgling non-credit adult education classes – targeting a new market of students that community colleges were just beginning to tap into.
Through Tom's leadership, the continuing education offerings expanded into a dynamic, thriving program. From 1969 to 1978, they grew from 10 classes with an enrollment of 189 students to 180 classes with an enrollment of more than 2,600 students.
Tom was promoted to dean of continuing education in 1975, and eventually, his department was offering classes seven days a week – a hectic schedule that often kept him working around the clock. There was not one seminar, workshop or class he didn't have a part of.
Tom represented the college through various professional organizations at both the state and local levels. Nationally, he served on the Learning Resources Network board of directors and presented customer service seminars at 20 national conferences. LERN recognized him as one of the top 25 leaders in adult and continuing education in 2003 and honored him with the History Maker Award.
Among his many other accolades, Tom was named Educator of the Year by the North Platte Chamber of Commerce, Administrator of the Year by the Nebraska Community College System, Outstanding Adult Educator for Nebraska by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration and received the Connecting Nebraska Award from the Nebraska Development Network.
By the time Tom ended his career at MPCC, he had worked his way up the ranks to area dean of economic development and training.
He retired from MPCC in 2011 after 41 years of service but remained a constant source of positivity and inspiration at college events including ribbon cuttings, board meetings, fundraisers, golf tournaments and scholarship receptions.
In 2013, Tom joined the North Platte Community College Foundation Board, an organization near and dear to his heart. He was serving as chair of the board at the time of his passing.
"Serving on the North Platte Community College Foundation Board meant that Tom could continue to provide his experience and expertise, even in his retirement years," Lynda said. "He saw it as a means for the foundation to provide financial support for college activities and needs otherwise not covered by tuition, fees or taxes. Most importantly, the foundation provides scholarships for students who are seeking the excellent educational classes, programs and opportunities provided by the college. As such, the North Platte Community College Foundation is not just investing in the future of North Platte Community College, it's investing in the City of North Platte, Lincoln County, the State of Nebraska and the United States of America."
Outside of the college, Tom was an active member of Holy Spirit Church for more than 40 years. He also served on the advisory council for the North Platte Area Ready to Serve Volunteer Program (RSVP) from the time of its formation in 1973. Because of his commitment and dedication to the organization, he was honored with the RSVP's Golden Senior Award in 2018 and a tree dedication in June of this year.
Tom also received the title of Admiral in the Great Navy of the State of Nebraska. In 2012, the North Platte City Council honored him with a Cody Scout Award, the highest award the city can bestow.
Tom will be recognized with his final award during NPCC's commencement ceremony, which is open to the public. It will begin at 3 p.m. July 31 in the McDonald-Belton Gymnasium, NPCC South Campus, 601 W. State Farm Rd.