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Budget proposal is aired
PHCC and NCI would benefit, officials say

Thursday, December 12, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Officials with the New College Institute and Patrick Henry Community College said they believe their institutions would benefit under Gov. Bob McDonnell’s proposal to increase statewide higher education funding by $183.1 million as part of his proposed biennial budget.

But William Wampler, executive director of NCI, and Kris Landrum, public relations and marketing manager at PHCC, said they do not yet have specifics.

According to a news release from the governor’s office, McDonnell’s proposed budget would provide:

• About $32.4 million to support a variety of higher education-related entities and programs, including nearly $6.1 million in workforce development programs and initiatives through the Virginia Community College System, the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research, New College, and the Southern Virginia, Roanoke and Southwest Virginia higher education centers.

Also included, among other things, in that $32.4 million is support for higher education consortiums such as 4-VA Partnership, Center for Advanced Logistics and Virtual Library of Virginia.

According to its website, the Virtual Library of Virginia is the consortium of nonprofit academic libraries within the commonwealth. Members include all of the 39 state-assisted colleges and universities, as well as 33 of the independent (private, nonprofit) institutions and the Library of Virginia. PHCC and NCI are listed as members.

• More than $150 million would be provided directly to the higher education institutions, consistent with the provisions of the “Top Jobs” Act, with $45 million (30 percent) dedicated to base operations and financial aid, and $105 million (70 percent) directed toward incentivizing performance.

“The governor’s proposed new funding will help the commonwealth achieve the goals of the historic ‘Top Jobs’ legislation (Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2011), put forward by McDonnell, that has the state on the path to generating 100,000 additional degrees and certifications over the next 15 years, is reducing the growth of tuition and enhancing access to higher education,” the news release from the governor’s office stated. “Already, as a result of this legislation, 14,000 new slots have been added at Virginia schools, and Virginia has recently seen the lowest average yearly increase in tuition in a decade.”

Of the $45 million for base operations and financial aid, $13.5 million would be dedicated to base operations and $31.5 million would go to financial aid. Of the $31.5 million in financial aid, 10 percent would be applied toward graduate financial aid to attract high-caliber students to Virginia’s research programs, the release stated.

Of the $105 million to incentivize performance, $21 million would be provided for enrollment growth, $63 million for incentive funding, and $21 million for research and initiatives in support of the goals of the “Top Jobs” Act, the release stated.

The incentive funding rewards performance of higher education institutions for increasing graduation and retention rates, graduating additional STEM-H students needed to keep the economy competitive, and attracting students of all socio-economic levels to higher education, the release stated. STEM-H stands for or science, technology, engineering, math and health.

Wampler said, speaking generally, “If you take students who enroll in NCI, much of what Gov. McDonnell proposes will help them with their pursuit of their degrees.”

“Specifically, the governor has tried to address funding needs for workforce development within several institutions of higher education, (including) New College,” Wampler said.

Though he didn’t have specifics yet, Wampler said he believes New College would be able to use workforce development funds “to support the operational funding requirements for our new building.”

NCI’s 52,000-square-foot building under construction on the Baldwin Block is scheduled for completion in May. Programs being developed in advanced manufacturing, entrepreneurism and telemedicine will be based in the building, which also will house the institute’s administrative offices and have space for special events.

With the new building comes the need for new positions, such as a facilities manager and other positions to support the operation of the building, Wampler said. “There are some pretty complicated mechanical systems inside the building that require full-time, dedicated staff,” he noted.

In addition, Wampler said of the budget proposal, “I would observe the governor continues his commitment to fund initiatives that generate 100,000 new degrees by 2025 (with a focus on STEM-H). Clearly, the New College and Patrick Henry Community College are partnering to help achieve those goals.”

Landrum, of PHCC, said the college does not yet know how much of the nearly $6.1 million for workforce development programs and initiatives it would receive.

“Additional resources will help us to develop training programs to meet employers’ needs and help people get a job or better job, and we plan to continue to provide credentialing programs such as ones that we currently offer like HOPE and the MSSC certified production technician program,” Landrum said.

HOPE stands for High-Demand Occupational Programs for Employment. MSSC stands for Manufacturing Skills Standards Council.

The General Assembly must approve the budget before it can take effect.


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