College is reality - The New College Institute is open for education

September 24, 2006

The first class began at the college on Friday. The master's of education course is offered through Averett University at the college's classroom building in uptown Martinsville.

This is not just another class. A great deal of dreaming, planning and work has gone into creating a bachelor's degree-granting institution in this area. That effort was grounded in the belief that this area was under-served in higher education and that more students would pursue such an education if they could do it close to home.

It also was sparked by the changing economy in Martinsville-Henry County. We live in a time when a high school diploma is essential and a bachelor's degree is rapidly becoming the same.

And the college stems from the dream that a community of students and faculty will foster economic vitality in the area. Already, two buildings in uptown Martinsville have been renovated for college facilities, and the hope is that restaurants and retail stores will follow. Long range, even more growth is possible.

The college is starting small, with 10 students in the master's class. But that is in line with projections by Dr. Barry Dorsey, executive director of the college, who has said the first-year pilot program will be successful it if enrolls 50 to 75 students.

We are impressed that the college has come this far this quickly, considering that only 2 1/2 years ago The Harvest Foundation issued its $50 million challenge to the state to open a college here. Its progress is a credit to Dr. Dorsey, the college's planning board led by Rob Spilman of Martinsville, Dr. Mervyn and Virginia King who have renovated their uptown buildings to house the college, and state legislators and officials and Gov. Tim Kaine who endorsed the effort.

We commend them and the members of the college's inaugural class. They are opening the doors to higher education in this area and, we hope, a bright future for both the students and the community.


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