NCI could be Longwood affiliate

Published 6:50 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

During recent months, Longwood University and New College Institute (NCI) have discussed the possibility of NCI becoming an affiliate of the university.

“It’s important to emphasize the discussions have been very preliminary and exploratory in nature,” Longwood Director of Communications and Media Relations Matt McWilliams said.

Matthew McWilliams

Matthew McWilliams

W. Taylor Reveley IV

W. Taylor Reveley IV

The NCI board and Longwood, McWilliams said, are still discussing the possibility of the university “adopting” the Martinsville facility.

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Longwood President W. Taylor Reveley IV said the university is happy to respond to the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) and NCI’s request to consider the opportunity.

McWilliams agreed.

“It has only been natural that we be part of the conversation,” McWilliams said. “We are looking forward to hearing more about their vision for the future, and stand ready to talk about ways we can work more closely together if that is their wish.”

Ultimately, however, the decision will require support from the governor and General Assembly, as well as SCHEV.

“Longwood has been a partner since day one,” NCI Director Leanne Blevins said.

When NCI opened its doors 10 years ago, Longwood was its first academic partner. NCI’s first faculty in residence member was from Longwood.

“I don’t use the term partner lightly,” Blevins said. “Longwood faculty members and the students enrolled in the program here — they have gotten involved in the community in various ways and they have certainly helped NCI to grow and to become what it is, so to have a chance to deepen that relationship or further that affiliation is certainly one that we have looked forward to.”

The university is still waiting to hear more about NCI’s vision for the partnership while in this preliminary phase, McWilliams said, with many possible outcomes.

“It’s critically important that we really kick the tires around Longwood and make sure it’s a good fit,” McWilliams said.

He said Longwood is interested in finding ways to do more to serve Southside Virginia, regardless of whether or not the affiliation comes to fruition.

Reveley agreed.

“Southside Virginia lags (behind) other parts of the state in its number of educational institutions and range of higher educational opportunities for citizens,” Reveley said.

Currently, Longwood offers a small number of programs at affiliate sites in both Emporia and South Boston, in addition to being one of several institutions to offer programs through NCI’s Martinsville facilities.

Longwood is the largest provider with about 30 students at NCI currently seeking degrees.

“Faculty, staff and students here would not see a difference,” McWilliams said.

Blevins said NCI, as a fairly new institution, is looking forward to exploring the possibilities of incorporating Longwood’s rich traditions and histories into its organization.

According to McWilliams, a number of Longwood faculty are currently involved in teaching at affiliate sites, both in person and remotely. He said presumably there would be more opportunities for this involvement with NCI as an affiliate.

“We would certainly be delighted if, as Longwood programs and options expand, we see more students from Southside aware of Longwood and perhaps more moving on from NCI into other programs that are available here on campus in Farmville,” McWilliams said.

He said Longwood would also consider the financial side of the affiliation carefully.

“Certainly the opportunity to enroll more students from Southside is a positive, and if NCI’s campus and other assets, partnerships and philanthropic relationships were to come into the Longwood family, the benefits could be very meaningful,” McWilliams said.

Blevins said NCI is currently in conversations with Longwood about maintaining relationships with other partner schools, which provide programs Longwood doesn’t offer, such as engineering.

Longwood is the only school being considered by NCI as an affiliate at this time, according to Blevins.