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Pushing for a New College in Southside

By Mike Signer | March 17, 2011 | No Comments

Anyone who knows Southside knows these folks work hard and like to work.  But they’ve been the victims of a global economy, local investment patterns — and the fact that they are Virginia’s only region without a four-year public college.

More good news today for the prospects of a new Virginia public college in Southside.  We wrote earlier about the possibility that Radford University could sponsor Martinsville’s New College Institute (NCI) and turn it into a full college.  This would follow the proud steps of George Mason University, a major international institution today that began in 1957 as the Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia.

This week, a dozen officials from Radford visited NCI. Radford President Penelope Kyle told the Martinsville Bulletin, “I haven’t heard a single negative today that would dissuade us … from wanting to go forward” in trying to acquire NCI.

Southside’s percentage of adults without college degrees lags behind the rest of the Commonwealth. NCI has about 400 students today, but that number would be in the thousands with Radford’s help.

I visited NCI in 2009 and was deeply impressed by the quality and commitment of the folks there to their mission.  Radford’s plans would go a long way to keeping momentum going in Virginia as the nation’s flagship for premier public higher education.

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