After more than a year of preparation, the University of Virginia will join with Virginia Tech on Monday to publicly unveil the universities’ jointly operated Newport News center.
University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan will join Virginia Tech President Charles W. Steger in celebrating the center’s grand opening events, including a public reception at 5:30 p.m. at the Marriott at City Center.
The University of Virginia Eastern Regional Center at Newport News, located at 600 Thimble Shoals Blvd., represents a relocation within the Hampton Roads region for the University of Virginia, which recently closed its Virginia Beach center.
The new Eastern Regional Center will make it easier for students to enroll in the U.Va. School of Continuing and Professional Studies’ portfolio of certificate programs and courses in subjects such as finance, management and administration and information technology. U.Va. also plans to work with Hampton Roads employers to create customized courses and programs for area residents and businesses.
Classes in the Eastern Regional Center will complement the programming of the new Virginia Tech Hampton Roads Center, Newport News, which will offer courses in customized contract training for businesses and professional development in leadership, team building, meeting planning and conference management. The center also plans to offer graduate-level curriculum in engineering, business and education.
The Economic Development Authority in Newport News spent more than $100,000 on building renovations for the new space in the 8,000-square-foot second floor of the Wells Fargo building. In addition, the building's owners are contributing almost twice that amount toward the renovation.
Classes will start this fall. The universities will share the center’s office, conference and classroom spaces, several of which are outfitted with videoconferencing equipment to link students to professors in other locales.
“This opening is a celebration of our partnership with Virginia Tech, and it’s really an extension of our existing partnership in Richmond,” said Kathy Cullen, director of U.Va.’s eastern outreach centers. “Our programming portfolios are very complementary, and we’re looking forward to working together to provide a better service to the community.”
The Newport News center is also the final piece of U.Va.’s push to co-locate its regional centers with other schools, to reduce costs by sharing classroom and office space and to offer adults more convenient access to a wider variety of higher education offerings. U.Va.’s four other regional centers are each either part of a regional multi-institution higher education center (in Roanoke and Abingdon) or co-located with Virginia Tech (in Richmond and Falls Church).
Laura W. Fornash, Virginia’s secretary of education, is scheduled to speak at the event on Monday along with the university presidents. Providing regional centers throughout the commonwealth to allow citizens to obtain certificates and degrees supports the objectives of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s 2011 Higher Education Opportunity Act, which calls for 100,000 more degrees to be awarded over the next 15 years.
— by Lauren Jones