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NEWS RELEASE

Contact:  Kirsten Nelson
(804) 225-2627
KirstenNelson@schev.edu
For Immediate Release

January 12, 2005

SCHEV Submits Southside Report to General Assembly
—Report Recommends Continued Study of Proposals—

RICHMOND — In accordance with the directive established by HJ 197, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) today submitted its report to the General Assembly to “consider the establishment of a public four-year degree-granting institution of higher education in South Central Virginia.”

SCHEV staff has spent a number of months analyzing both the New College of Virginia proposal submitted by Dr. Ron Carrier, and the Collaborative 2+2 Program proposal submitted by President Patricia Cormier of Longwood University, President Roseann Runte of Old Dominion University, and President Max Wingett of Patrick Henry Community College. Council Chairman Alan Wurtzel expressed Council members’ view that, “The New College of Virginia proposal, developed under the auspices of the Harvest Foundation, is a bold and creative effort to provide post secondary education in Southside Virginia. Likewise, the Collaborative 2+2 Program proposal has merit in its effort to build upon existing resources of the Commonwealth.” Staff also studied statistical data about the Southside and alternate options for postsecondary education in the region and found that a compelling case can be made for the Commonwealth to provide additional postsecondary educational opportunities in Southside Virginia. SCHEV Executive Director Daniel LaVista remarked that, "Council members and staff are grateful for the opportunity to assist the General Assembly in its deliberation on the Southside initiative. We are pleased to be a part of the Southside discussions and we hope that this report helps to advance thinking about higher education in the Commonwealth."

SCHEV’s report findings include:
  • While some population growth will occur in the region, Danville, Martinsville and Henry County will face population losses through the end of the decade
  • Unemployment rates are significantly higher in both Southside and Southwest Virginia than in the rest of the state.

  • The average total cost of education at a public four-year institution represents from 1/3 to 1/5 of the median family income of families in Southside and Southwest Virginia

  • The creation of a new institution in the Southside focusing on rural student populations is unlikely to reduce the increased enrollment demand pressures with which the Commonwealth is currently struggling

  • There are compelling merits for both proposals, however, it is imperative that an objective needs assessment is conducted to determine the most appropriate higher education model needed in the region

Also embedded in the report are recommendations for immediate funding while further research is conducted. Immediate recommendations include developing a high-profile website to gauge program demand, creating tuition assistance grants for local students attending private institutions, and curriculum development by all parties proposing to deliver services to the Southside. However, should the 2005 General Assembly decide to act affirmatively to create a new public, 4-year institution, it is SCHEV’s recommendation that the Collaborative proposal is adopted as it is the most cost-effective model and comes with immediate accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and is thus able to award Title IV Federal financial aid. Nevertheless, funding of the Collaborative approach should not preclude future funding of the New College of Virginia should an objective needs assessment indicate demand for that proposal.

SCHEV is the Commonwealth’s coordinating body for Virginia’s system of higher education. The agency provides policy guidance and budget recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly, and is a resource for information on Virginia colleges and universities on higher education issues. Agenda materials for the SCHEV meeting are available at www.schev.edu.

For more information, contact Kirsten Nelson, Director of Government Relations and Communications, at KirstenNelson@schev.edu or (804)225-2627.