Pandemic delays Virginia Business College opening
The new Virginia Business College in Bristol won’t open as planned for its first semester this August due to the coronavirus crisis.
VBC President Gene Couch issued a statement June 25 announcing the nonprofit private college’s plans to “defer the initial [academic] offerings until a later date” due to the pandemic. Couch did not respond to requests for comment.
VBC will be located on the campus that formerly belonged to Virginia Intermont College, which closed in 2014 due to lost accreditation and financial struggles. U.S. Magis International Education Center, a company headed by Chinese entrepreneur Zhiting Zang, purchased the campus at auction in 2016.
The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia issued a provisional certificate to VBC in October 2019. That certificate expires in October 2020 and VBC administrators had not applied for full certification as of June 26, according to Laura Osberger, spokeswoman for SCHEV.
“The impact of coronavirus has slowed the work needed for our full SCHEV approval and preparations for our initial fall semester,” VBC’s board chairman Dale Cook explained in a news release. Cook declined to comment further.
“Obviously, we’re very anxiously awaiting its opening,” says Beth Rhinehart, president and CEO of the Bristol Chamber of Commerce. “But we certainly understand under the circumstances why they won’t be accepting students this fall. It’s challenging times for everyone.”
VBC plans to offer bachelor’s degrees in business administration with seven concentrations: accounting, business analytics, entrepreneurship, human resource management, information technology, management/leadership and marketing.
The idea that the vacant Virginia Intermont campus will be revived thrills Bristol Virginia City Council member Neal Osborne.
“It was really unfortunate when Intermont closed, because it was a fairly successful college for a long time,” Osborne says. “It sits in a low-income neighborhood, so that was one of the things that first interested me with Virginia Business College establishing there, because there are other places that they could establish obviously. It interested me because they’re taking this fairly large campus with a whole bunch of buildings and revitalizing it, kind of bringing it back to life in a very low-income area.”
He remains optimistic that VBC will open its doors eventually.
“They put a lot of work into the infrastructure already, so I am very hopeful that they will be able to open,” Osborne says.