Harvest backs plan for college

November 28, 2004

Bulletin Staff Writer

The Harvest Foundation has endorsed Dr. Ronald Carrier's plan for the New College of Virginia and hopes Gov. Mark Warner will approve funds for the institution in his budget proposal, according to foundation Executive Director Harry Cerino.

Several alternatives have been proposed for the college and while the foundation sees "there is room and need in this community for a range of options in higher education ... The Harvest Foundation, by the continuing unanimous consent of its board of directors, has chosen to back Dr. Carrier's New College of Virginia model for the basis of its $50 million challenge," Cerino stated in an opinion piece in today's Martinsville Bulletin which explains the foundation's position.

The foundation pledged $50 million to the college if the state locates it in Henry County/Martinsville within two years.

Carrier's group has formally asked Warner to include $3 million in planning costs for the college in his budget, which should be released by the middle of December, Carrier said on Wednesday.

"If the governor endorses our request, it then goes before the General Assembly for approval, which may depend on the recommendations of the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia (SCHEV)," Carrier said in an opinion piece about the college.

Both Cerino and Carrier said they wrote their respective pieces to emphasize that the plan for the New College of Virginia is right for Henry County and Martinsville.

"We want to remind people in Richmond that we're still interested in doing this," Carrier said.

"We just wanted to reiterate that we're sticking to this one particular approach," Cerino added.

The plan developed by Carrier's group will feature "a 28-month degree program that emphasizes applied technical instruction, team-based learning, professional internships and the honing of individual skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and effective communication. These teachable skills are too often neglected in more traditional four-year colleges," Carrier wrote.

"Our studies indicate it doesn't make sense to do a traditional school here," Cerino said on Wednesday, adding that Carrier rose to the challenge of coming up with something creative.

"One of the things this community needs is a breakout strategy where it could go a completely different direction. ... Carrier's model meets the community's needs with a more work-like model for education," he added.

Carrier's plan would offer a full-time residential and commuter baccalaureate degree program that students would attend from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, through four 10-week quarters a year.

Now, Carrier said his group now is working on designing the college's curriculum, which would include hybrid courses that blend online learning with traditional classroom instruction.

An urban design company out of Pittsburgh also has visited uptown Martinsville to see if it has the infrastructure -- such as water, sewer and lighting services -- to handle a 1,000 student college, Carrier said.

Part of the plan for bringing a new college to Henry County and Martinsville is to spark economic development in addition to raising the area's level of education.

"There's certainly a relationship between higher education and job creation," Carrier said.


Select News Year: