Report on NCI future due Oct. 21

October 4, 2010

In less than three weeks, the community should have a good idea of the future of the New College Institute (NCI).

On Oct. 21, NCI’s board will receive a report from the New College 2012 Commission recommending one of three options for the institute’s future, according to Bill Leighty, executive director of the commission.

Those options include staying as a “higher education center” or evolving into either a stand-alone university or a branch campus of an existing university.

In 2012, the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia plans to give the General Assembly a recommendation for NCI’s future. It is expected that the commission’s advisement will bear heavily on the council’s recommendation, officials have said.

“The sooner the (commission’s) report is completed (and presented), the better,” said NCI Executive Director Barry Dorsey. “There is a lot of community interest in this report.”

Leighty said Friday that the preparation of the report is “coming along very nicely.”

Plans were for the report to have been finished in August, but Leighty, who also runs an organization called Performance Leadership Group, said his work with other clients resulted in a delay.

Along with a suggestion for NCI’s future, the commission’s report will contain “a pretty good overview” of the institute’s history and its successes during the past four years, Leighty said. It also will “set the context of” the area’s economics, he said.

Because he and the commission are still in the process of preparing the report, Leighty declined to comment further on its contents.

However, he told NCI’s board in June that amid current economic restraints, gaining enough funding and support to make NCI a stand-alone university will be hard. He mentioned that every public college established in Virginia since 1830 began as a branch of an existing institution.

The 10-member 2012 Commission is comprised of business, government and higher education leaders. It is chaired by John Casteen, who recently retired after two decades as president of the University of Virginia, and Eugene Trani, an NCI board member who retired last year after serving as president of Virginia Commonwealth University for 20 years.

Leighty said many of the commission members are expected to attend the Oct. 21 NCI board meeting.

NCI is a state-supported school in uptown Martinsville providing local access to advanced courses needed to earn certain bachelor’s and master’s degrees from universities in the state. The institute also is funded by The Harvest Foundation.

NCI opened in 2006 to help increase the number of adults in Southside with college degrees. At that time, statistics showed that only about 11 percent of adults in the region had graduated from college — the lowest percentage of any region in the state.


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