New College expanding

July 25, 2008

By MICKEY POWELL - Bulletin Staff Writer

New degree programs and projected enrollment growth will prompt the New College Institute (NCI) to expand its facilities in uptown Martinsville soon. Executive Director Barry Dorsey told the NCI board of directors on Thursday that beginning in August, the institute will lease about 2,400 square feet on the fourth floor of Jefferson Plaza on East Church Street.

NCI will offer 12 degree programs during the fall semester and 14 during the spring semester. That is up from 11 degree programs offered during the fiscal year that ended June 30. The number of students enrolled at NCI increased from 118 in the 2006-07 fiscal year to 254 during 2007-08. Dorsey predicted that enrollment will rise to at least 325 students during 2008-09 due largely to the new programs.

The space that NCI will lease in Jefferson Plaza will include two classrooms and two offices. It was occupied by National College before that school moved into a building on North Memorial Boulevard earlier this year. NCI will lease the Jefferson Plaza space for $10 per square foot, including utilities, from the building’s owner, Mervyn King. That equals $24,000, said Dorsey, adding that “it is a temporary, one-year lease.”

It is possible that when a new degree program is implemented in January, slightly more space inside Jefferson Plaza will be needed, Dorsey said. However, King plans not to charge NCI any extra money, Dorsey said.

The state-funded institute, which opened in July 2006, gives students local access to courses they need to complete bachelor’s and master’s degree programs at colleges and universities statewide. Its current facilities are on Courthouse Square a block away from Jefferson Plaza. Classrooms and some offices are in a former store building on Franklin Street, and executive offices are in the Pythian Building on Jones Street. The former Henry County courthouse is between the two buildings.

NCI leases both of those buildings from King, who renovated them extensively to accommodate NCI. Dorsey said King plans to do only some minor renovations to the Jefferson Plaza space, such as painting. It needs “very little renovation” to suit the institute, said Dorsey.

He said NCI will install about $12,000 in furniture and about $18,000 in modern classroom technology in Jefferson Plaza. Those furnishings will be removed if the institute eventually stops using the space. When it begins occupying the space in Jefferson Plaza, NCI will be paying King lease payments totaling about $107,000 per year, Dorsey said.

Whether NCI continues occupying the Jefferson Plaza space after its year-long lease is up remains to be seen. It mainly will depend on the amount of space needed for degree programs and students at that time, Dorsey indicated. He said he would like for all of NCI’s facilities ultimately to remain uptown.


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