Officials from the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center are looking for a new executive director that can help the institution continue to grow and develop to meet increasing regional demand for higher education opportunities.
The center enables students to take classes at its South Boston facility (a renovated, 158-year-old former tobacco warehouse) and earn degrees from eight Virginia colleges and universities, as well as the University of North Carolina. Degrees range, for example, from an associate’s degree in medical lab technology from Central Virginia Community College to a master’s degree in education from Cambridge College.
The current executive director, W.W. “Ted” Bennett Jr., will retire in January. Center officials hope to recruit a new director by mid-November.
The most difficult challenge facing a new director, Bennett says, is persuading more four-year colleges to partner with the center. “The public universities don’t easily come off their campuses to offer bachelor-degree programs at a place like ours,” says Bennett, a former state legislator. “That’s a detriment to people in Southern Virginia who for economic, family or other reasons don’t have the ability to move away from home to attend college. So what we’re really looking for is someone with the ability to develop these partnerships and convince those colleges and universities to come here to help serve this
Another responsibility will be developing programs in keeping with the center’s recent decision to put more emphasis on arts and design. That focus eventually will include degree offerings in visual arts, graphic design, architecture, fine furniture design and woodworking. The higher education center initially is partnering with Virginia Commonwealth University and Danville Community College to offer introductory courses in graphic arts and design this fall.
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