NCI head is stepping down but not stopping
William C. Wampler Jr. plans to retire this summer as executive director of the New College Institute in Martinsville, but he’s not going far.
The former state senator still will work as a consultant for the institute’s fundraising arm, the New College Foundation, to see certain initiatives through. NCI partners with colleges and universities to offer academic programs and award degrees up to the master’s level. Opened in 2006, it receives funding from the state and the Harvest Foundation in Martinsville.
“It’s been a great tour of duty,” says Wampler about his tenure, which started after he ended a 24-year career in the Virginia Senate. His three-year contract as executive director has been extended until July 15 so he can help with the transition of his successor, who has not yet been named.
A big milestone during Wampler’s tenure was the opening of NCI’s new building in uptown Martinsville (it was the first created for the institution). The 52,000-square-foot facility includes 12 classrooms, an advanced manufacturing high bay and a lecture hall. NCI shares the building with Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp., Martinsville-Henry County Visitors Center and Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science & Technology.
Overall, Wampler believes NCI has positioned itself as a relevant organization helping solve some of the commonwealth’s most pressing issues. For example, he says, sophisticated training equipment available at NCI was crucial in Kilgour Industries’ recent decision to locate its first U.S. operation in Henry County, since the institute could help develop the company’s workforce. The British supplier of aircraft airframe and engine machined products plans to invest $27.3 million in its new facility and create 155 jobs.
In partnership with the University of Virginia’s Center for Telehealth, NCI also offered a program that trained almost 300 students to use digital equipment to monitor at-risk patients, helping to reduce their need to be readmitted to a hospital. NCI now is developing another telehealth project for mental-health providers, along with U.Va. and other organizations.
Although Wampler is retiring, he’s still focused on helping advance NCI’s mission. “I don’t think I know how not to work, how about that,” he says when asked what he plans to do when he finally retires. “There’s going to be plenty of work here to follow through on many of the initiatives, whether it’s in core academics or training the workforce, creating partnerships, working with prospective businesses, so we’re going to stay busy.”