ODU takes itself off list of NCI suitors

March 11, 2011

By ELIZA WINSTON - Bulletin Staff Writer

Old Dominion University has removed itself from the list of schools considering partnering with New College Institute.

“Old Dominion has decided that its plate is too full to take on a fourth branch campus,” said Eugene Trani at an NCI board meeting Thursday.

“ODU has enjoyed its role at NCI and Patrick Henry Community College, and hopes that role can continue,” said Trani. “They see great possibilities for NCI but for them it just cannot happen now because they really want to focus on the three branch campuses they have now.”

ODU, in Norfolk, was one of five universities that had expressed interest in exploring the possibility of making NCI a branch campus, as recommended by a commission recently. In addition to Old Dominion, the universities are George Mason, Virginia Commonwealth, Radford and Virginia State.

Officials from George Mason and VCU have visited NCI’s facilities in Martinsville. Trani said Radford officials will visit next week and Virginia State officials are working on a date for a visit.

Trani said the four universities must submit a proposal by April 15. The proposals must include a plan for instruction in four key areas — education, business, computer science and health, especially nursing.

The proposal must also include residential faculty members who will teach many of the courses, Trani said. However, he told NCI board members Thursday that they can continue to discuss other items that could be mandatory for the proposals, such as how the partnering institution could help spark economic development in the area.

He also discussed the process of NCI becoming a branch campus. He said the first part of that process was approving and then circulating the 2012 commission report that recommended NCI become a branch campus of a state university.

“So the first quarter is about done, we’ve encouraged interest and we’ve got interest from great institutions,” said Trani.

He said the second quarter will involve evaluating the institutions’ proposals and negotiating with those schools. He said during that time he will come to Martinsville along with William Leighty and Robert Holsworth to participate in discussions with the boards of NCI and the Harvest Foundation on how to evaluate the proposals. Harvest helps fund NCI.

Approval of those evaluations and negotiations will be the third quarter, said Trani. He added that might be complete by June 1 and then approvals could be done during the summer to prepare for actions necessary in the fall.

“In the fall begins a massive effort to continue to make public officials as well as the citizens of Martinsville and Henry County and other state officials aware” of the decision reached by the NCI board, said Trani.

He said the final decision will have to go to the General Assembly, which “will in effect have to approve NCI becoming a branch campus of one of the institutions.”

Trani added that the coming months will involve hard work but he believes NCI will continue to have a positive effect on the community as a branch campus.

“It’s exciting to me to see a community like Martinsville rally around an issue and to focus on that issue ... which is getting advanced training for all the residents and they can have satisfactory professional lives and continue to help the community to prosper,” he said.


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