Pandering at the Peach Festival?

The Martinsville Bulletin has several reports on candidate and officeholder appearances at the Peach Festival in Stuart over the weekend. (No word on whether Barnie did any “belly-bumping.”)

It appears that everyone is in favor of a new college in Southside, although they don’t want to be pinned down on the exact location or the funding.

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-9th): “I’m strongly for that (a college in Southside.) I’m hopeful that the state will move forward … once that happens we can work on getting federal funding (for the college).”

Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine: “I am not walking out of office without a four-year university started in Southside.”

Jerry Kilgore: “I have been committed to a four-year college in Southside from the beginning.”

Sen. Bill Bolling: “I support it. I think it’s a great idea.”

Sen. Russ Potts: “Those politicians may tell you they’ll get $500 million for a new college but that’s not reality.” Building a college “step by step” is the way it should be done, he said.

I hope someone will ask the candidates about a university in Southside at the debate in Northern Virginia.

I also hope someone will ask Russ Potts who “those politicians” are and what figure is “reality.” Potts always seems to have plenty to say about everyone else’s position, but not so much about his own.


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  1. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Has anyone started adding up all the spending these folks are promising? A new university, a billion a year in additional spening for roads, more money for primary and secondary schools, higher teacher salaries, etc. Where is all this money going to come from?!!!!

  2. Terry M. Avatar

    The latest estimate on the cost of the proposed New College of Virginia, was increased about 50% to around $20M/year and they are expecting about have to come from the state. Also, the initial capital costs are now around $75M.

    And keep in mind, current funding under base adequacy guidelines adopted by the legislature is still about $300M/year short…excluding the goal of raising faculty salaries to the 60th percentile of the peer groups.

  3. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    The State doesn’t adequately fund the existing colleges, how can it afford to start a new one?

  4. At the risk of sounding like a Connaughton Kool-Aide drinker I will say this is something Sean brought up against Sen.Bolling in the primary. Of course everyone is in-favor of a new college… until they have to find a way to pay for it!

    You need more public-private mixing in regards to higher ed like we see with George Mason up here in No Va. IF adding a university helps develop similar relationships in southside than go for it. If all we are adding is another institution in the middle-of-nowhere than we are wasting our money.

    Does anyone else feel their wallets getting lighter when this election is over???

  5. Where was Tucker Watkins?

    Did George make him stay home.

  6. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    Why not combine IALR (a big white elephant in Danville) with Averett College (a struggling liberal arts college) and Ferrum College (a struggling liberal arts college) and think creatively about how they can partner up on curriculum. Then, find a private partner to make it work, perhaps by combing the endowments at Ferrum and Averett as start up capital. I see facilities in place already, why go new? And chasing Harvest Foundation investments hardly seems like reason enough.

  7. Terry M. Avatar

    Why do you consider IALR a white elephant? It appears to be making progress and bringing in substantive research dollars. And it is likely to be the primary recipient of the new Danville foundation (from the sale of its hospital).

    As for Averett and Ferrum, Harvest and the NCV Planning Commission(and local elected officials) all seem convinced that the need a public institution. FRom the examples they like to toss around, they envision a VCU-like renaissance in downtown Richmond. While this could indeed happen in a few decades, it is not going to happen anytime soon. Nor do I think they have really thought through what 25,000 students in uptown Martinsville would look like.

  8. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    I think the Ferrum-Averett idea is intriguing. What’s to keep the state from buying/taking over these assets and turning them into a Southside university system?

  9. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    I hope someone will ask the candidates about a university in Southside at the debate in Northern Virginia.

    Tim Kaine talked it up strongly in his appearance here in Charlottesville this morning. Far from northern Virginia, yes, but also far from Southside. (Though not quite as far from Southside. 🙂

    Why not combine IALR (a big white elephant in Danville) with Averett College (a struggling liberal arts college) and Ferrum College (a struggling liberal arts college) and think creatively about how they can partner up on curriculum.

    Because Averett has gone on the record as being totally uninterested in doing so. They’re strongly opposed to any such unification. They value strongly their religious affiliation (Baptist), which is incompatible with being a public university, though they’ve recently dissolved their formal relationship with the Virginia Baptists.

  10. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    “Why do you consider IALR a white elephant?”

    Because a grenade could go off in that building at any place at just about anytime of the day and no person would be injured.

    That thing is a monument to elected figures needing to throw money at a challenge and show that they are working hard without really thinking through the whole endeavor. This kind of project is popping up with increasing frequency for some reason in southside and southwest – a lot of people are following Kevin Costner’s line about baseball fields.

    See the Crossroads Institute, the Higher Ed Center in Abingdon, the Prizery in South Boston, the Roanoke Higher Ed Center, and on and on and on.

    I’m not trying to be the naysayer, but once you get past the press conference fluff and buzzwords and get to the real questions of who pays to keep the lights on, who is bringing real $$ to the buildings, what kind of students are being produced, and then at what cost per pupil including capital, the projects begin to look a bit questionable at best, porky at the worst.

    And I know these folks are hurting and people want to help. But I think we all need to take a big step back away from the cliff and ask, what is needed and then provide a strategic approach to solving the needs other than investing millions of TROF funds in each locality. Let’s provide some connectivity and collateral benefits across the region.

    Seems to me the infrastructure is in place – now let’s get busy bringing them together in some sense of order. Not just a method for securing EDA, Tobacco, or Harvest Foundation funds.

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