Harvest Foundation rebuts SCHEV

January 23, 2005

Bulletin Staff Writer

The Harvest Foundation will not award its $50 million challenge grant to Longwood University's proposed collaborative plan for a college.

Harvest Foundation Executive Director Harry Cerino and New College of Virginia President Ronald Carrier on Friday issued an eight-page rebuttal to a State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) report which suggested further study on establishing a college in Southside.

SCHEV's report had said if action was needed, the General Assembly should support Longwood's proposed "2+2" collaborative plan with Old Dominion University and Patrick Henry Community College.

Cerino and Carrier, however, said that proposal does not meet the criteria for the foundation's $50 million challenge grant to establish a college in Martinsville and Henry County. They called the SCHEV report "deficient."

"The Harvest challenge was not issued in order to spawn a race for the $50 million prize in which a program, any program, offering higher education in Southside Virginia would qualify," they wrote.

The rebuttal was sent Friday as a letter to SCHEV Executive Director Daniel LaVista and copies were sent to Gov. Mark Warner, Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, State Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, Secretary of Education Belle Wheelan and numerous senators and delegates.

It asks that SCHEV withdraw its report, revise it and resubmit it by Jan. 31.

Although complimentary of SCHEV's recognition of its $50 million challenge, letter states, "We find may of the assumptions, findings and conclusions in SCHEV's report to be deficient. It is unfortunate and sadly disappointing that the SCHEV report is not more sensitive to the dire educational and economic needs of Southside Virginia."

Describing the New College of Virginia (NCV) proposed by Carrier as "visionary," the letter reiterated The Harvest Foundation's support for it. "The NCV model has captured the community's imagination and, with the strong support of that community, is helping to unify the community's revitalization efforts," it states.

The letter adds, "The Harvest Foundation is working closely with NCV's staff and advisers, and we have no doubt that when the commonwealth agrees to support the NCV model on an ongoing basis, the school will qualify to receive the proceeds of The Harvest Foundation."

Referring to the $50 million grant, the letter states, "Harvest (foundation) reserved ... the right to be advised by appropriate experts as to the terms and conditions under which such funds would be made available. The Harvest Foundation has announced its clear and unwavering support for the NCV proposal; no other proposal stands on an equal footing."


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