December 20, 2005
Momentum in establishing the New College Institute will not be slowed when the new governor who takes office next month, according to Gov. Mark Warner.
Gov.-elect Tim Kaine has been "unwavering" in his support for the institute, Warner told local officials and business leaders at the West Piedmont Business Development Center in Martinsville on Monday.
New state Secretary of Education Peter Blake has made establishing the institute his "passionate cause," Warner said. Blake succeeded former secretary Belle Wheelan earlier this year.
Also, Dr. Barry M. Dorsey, the planning commission"s new executive director and a former administrator with the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, has the credentials to "make sure the relationship with SCHEV continues to go forward," said Warner.
SCHEV and the General Assembly ultimately must approve establishing the New College.
And, Warner said later, he will help "any way I can."
Dorsey currently is president of the University of Rio Grande and Rio Grande Community College, an Ohio partnership of public and private institutions. He will move to Martinsville and start working for the New College in January.
With his experience in higher education, "he will be viewed as an equal" by other college presidents with whom he deals, Warner said.
State and New College officials also recognized former Gov. Gerald Baliles, former Martinsville City Council member Elizabeth Haskell and New College Planning Commission Chairman Rob Spilman for their help with developing plans for the institute. Haskell also is a member of the planning commission.
Yet "without the support of the Warner administration, we wouldn"t be here today," said Spilman.
"We"re not out of the woods yet" in terms of obtaining General Assembly and SCHEV approval, he said, but "we have a shot, and (Warner) has been instrumental in getting us that shot."
Warner indicated that Monday"s visit probably was his last Henry County-Martinsville trip as governor.
He said that when he was elected four years ago, he and his staff "really made it a priority" to bring new business and industry to the community because they saw economic potential here.
Economic developers have said that having a baccalaureate degree-granting college in Henry County or Martinsville should lure business and industry as it will improve the quality of the local work force. And having more jobs could spur more young people to stay in the community after graduating from college, they have said.
Warner predicted that if the New College comes to fruition and lures new companies, 10 years from now the community will be "a place where young people want to stay and raise families."
Select News Year: