Harvest College Project Selects New Leader

December 14, 2005

Martinsville Bulletin Staff Writer

The New College of Virginia (NCV) Planning Commission has named Dr. Barry M. Dorsey as its executive director.

Dorsey will begin his duties in mid-January, college officials said.

Tuesday's announcement came less than a month after the NCV hired Virginia Tech as an educational consultant on its efforts to open a college in the area, possibly by the fall of 2007.  "One of the key points of the agreement with Tech was that we find an academic leader and that's what we've done," said commission Chairman Robert H. Spilman Jr.

Since 1991, Dorsey has served as president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, a partnership between public and private institutions that serves 2,900 students in southeastern Ohio.

Before that, Dorsey spent 18 years working for the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and four years as a member of the faculty and staff of Radford College, now a university.

Spilman said the reputation Dorsey has earned during his more than three decades in education would help facilitate the success of his first order of business -- ensuring that the New College of Virginia is included in the budget approved by the General Assembly, which meets in Richmond beginning Jan. 11.

"Just because we hope to be in the budget and we have a framework in mind does not mean we know for sure that it will happen," said Spilman. "It all has to go through the assembly."

Given that reality, Dorsey said he plans to visit Richmond during the 2006 legislative session to solidify and build on the political support the college already has.

"I feel certain that I'll be talking with members of the General Assembly and talking with the education and finance committees," he said. "Making certain that the institution is well-funded is critical."

Simultaneously, Dorsey said he will begin working to finalize plans for the institution's physical plant and academic curriculum.

While that task will be challenging, it is one that Dorsey said he welcomes and feels qualified to accomplish.

"I'm very excited about the opportunity to create a new institution," he said. "I've looked at all the material and over the course of the last several weeks have decided this is a place where I want to be involved.

"At a small institution (like Rio Grande), the president is involved in every aspect of the institution so I feel quite confident in my ability to build an institution from the ground up."

The first step in that process, Dorsey said, is meeting with everyone involved with the project, including planning commission members, Harvest Foundation board members, Virginia Tech officials and area legislators.

Equally important are meetings with community members and leaders, said Dorsey.

In part, that is because Dorsey said he hopes the NCV will become a positive force for change, not only for the students who attend but also for the community as a whole.

"I understand the importance of institutions reaching out to serve their larger communities," he said.

Dorsey did just that at Rio Grande, where he worked toward the improvement of southeastern Ohio by establishing a center for economic development to combine the efforts of regional organizations, making the school's campus open to Gifted and Talented and Head Start students and other community groups and implementing an adult degree program, among other initiatives.

"Rio Grande makes quite a difference in the lives of the people of southern Ohio," Dorsey said. "The institution is not only the educational center but also the social and cultural center of southeastern Ohio. I believe that the New College of Virginia will, in time, attain the same level of success and appreciation in this region."


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