December 12, 2004
By GINNY WRAY
Bulletin Staff Writer
As promised, Attorney General Jerry Kilgore has asked Gov. Mark Warner to include funds for the New College of Virginia in Martinsville in his budget proposal to be unveiled Friday.
"It is time to let the citizens of Martinsville/Henry County take control of their destiny," Kilgore wrote to Warner on Friday.
Kilgore met Dec. 2 with Dr. Ronald Carrier, former president of James Madison University who was hired by The Harvest Foundation to head local efforts to develop a state-supported college in this area. The attorney general emerged from that meeting with a pledge to do everything he could -- including writing to or talking with Warner -- to ensure that funding for the project is included in the governor's budget plan.
His letter kept that promise. In it, Kilgore noted that the New College of Virginia (NCV) has asked Warner to offer amendments to fund $1.5 million in the current year and $3.5 million in the second year of the 2004-06 biennium budget.
"This is a small amount in light of the $50 million commitment by The Harvest Foundation. My purpose in writing is to enthusiastically endorse NCV's funding proposal and respectfully request that the appropriations be specific to NCV in Martinsville," Kilgore wrote.
The Harvest Foundation has issued a $50 million challenge grant to the state to set up a college here in two years. Its goal, as noted by Kilgore, is to allow residents to receive a bachelor's degree in 28 months or through a part-time program called Track II, and help transform the economy of Henry County/Martinsville at the same time.
"As you are aware, the people of the Martinsville/Henry County area have faced a significant hardship as a result of global competition," Kilgore wrote. "You have spoken often of the need to help transform the economy of this area, and I think that you can appreciate the entrepreneurial nature of this endeavor.
"Dr. Carrier's track record at James Madison University is exemplary. He has assembled a team of highly competent professionals who have made tremendous progress in planning the college in the past six months. In an act of enormous generosity and confidence, your friend, George Lester, has offered to give NCV a 185,000-square-foot building to house its activities and an additional $250,000 to endow the college after it is accredited. The citizens of Martinsville and the surrounding region have enthusiastically supported this endeavor," he added.
Kilgore went on to note that the commonwealth has supported the Higher Education Center in Halifax/South Boston and the Institute of Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, and renewed its commitment to The University of Virginia's College at Wise, Kilgore's alma mater.
"I wholeheartedly support this wonderful public-private partnership and hope that you will too. I am committed to working with the legislature to keep the money in the budget," he added.
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