MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Progress and new programming were the themes of the New College Institute (NCI) Board of Directors meeting on Monday.

During the meeting, NCI Chair Senator Bill Stanley presented a proposal for the future direction of the institution, which was unanimously approved by the Board. NCI adopted a conceptual framework that focuses on four core academic areas: engineering and advanced manufacturing; technology and cybersecurity; healthcare; and education and community leadership.

NCI’s newly adopted plan represents a “focused approach to academic areas that are responsive to current and future industry needs,” according to Stanley. The institute will accomplish this goal through new programs that fit the needs of the community as well as the growth of existing programs currently offered through Longwood University.

A defining feature of NCI’s future direction will be accessibility to programs that include both online and face-to-face courses. Additionally, the plan calls for NCI to continue to operate with a “2+2 model.” This model allows students to complete the first two years of their bachelor’s degree at the community college level and then complete the last two years of their degree at NCI.

Experiential learning will be a key element embedded within the academic programs at NCI. This will allow students to develop necessary hands-on experience and professional connections that will produce jobs for students. “Experiential learning will be especially key for the cybersecurity programs. Cybersecurity jobs, in particular, represent an interesting opportunity where students here in Martinsville can work from a distance for employers throughout the state,” said Stanley.

In order to meet the needs of regional employers, NCI will embed industry credentials into academic programs where appropriate.

The proposal presented by Senator Stanley offers a framework that will “allow NCI to identify the best programs and best partners,” added Dr. Leanna Blevins, NCI’s Executive Director.

Now that this plan has been approved, NCI will be making new efforts in outreach and recruiting. The new recruitment efforts will extend into North Carolina, every community college in Virginia, regional middle and high school students, and veterans. “We have to expand our net,” said Stanley.

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