February 13, 2011
Reporter: Sarah Bloom WSET-TV
Martinsville, VA - New College Institute in Martinsville may soon have a new image. Five institutions in Virginia have expressed interest in opening a branch campus at the school.
Officials say that would mean students could see expanded services and obtain a brand name education there.
"A lot of people have four year degrees. So now it's where do you have your degree," said Gerie Pinkard, a Former NCI student. "It's not just a degree that you need, but you need to have it say a certain name."
The possibility of getting a degree with that "recognizable name" has Gerie Pinkard thinking about returning to New College Institute to finish her degree.
Experts say with a branch campus, a big name isn't the only benefit.
"The students in this area will be able to have access to a lot more degree programs," said Dr. Barry Dorsey, Executive Director at New College Institute.
A major higher education institution could also provide more scholarship dollars. It would also likely introduce more faculty members. Of course, faculty members have the advantage of education and research that would contribute intellectually in the Martinsville-Henry County area.
Then, there's the economic advantage a major school could bring.
"Students will come here to live and study at NCI. Local entrepreneurs will come here and develop student apartments or student lofts to bring the students here and there will be a ripple effect," said Dorsey.
In fact, Henry County's Board of Supervisors asked County leaders to make supporting NCI a top priority.
"They think New College Institute is our best, most immediate chance for growth in the community," said Tim Hall, Henry County Deputy County Administrator.
Local leaders say the impact of a branch campus will bring more local spending, but it will also bring affordable education options to local students.
"As they not only save money, they will increase the degrees that they have and therefore get better jobs in this area," said Dorsey.
It's a pitch that already has Gerie Pinkard thinking about heading back to school.
"You can get a quality education at home," said Pinkard.
Officials with NCI have seen interest from five Virginia institutions. They hope to put the issue before the 2012 General Assembly and see changes shortly thereafter.
To put things in perspective, we're told in the Martinsville area, only 11.6 percent of people 25 or older have Bachelors degrees. Statewide, 29.5 percent do.
Local leaders hope this opportunity could improve that statistic.
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