NCI Board receives update on plan after Youngkin’s visit

NCI Board receives update on plan after Youngkin’s visit

The New College Institute board on Thursday received copies of its business plan for review before a final copy is drafted to return to the governor.

The board met in Richmond, continuing its efforts to restore full funding in the coming two-year state budget.

In December, Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposed budget allocated $4.69 million for the 2024-25 fiscal year, but nothing for the 2025-26 fiscal year. This budget proposal also required that NCI submit a business plan by October.

NCI Board Chair Sen. Bill Stanley, R-Franklin County, NCI Vice Chair Richard Hall and NCI Executive Director Joe Sumner all expressed their shock on the budget cut after the proposed budget was announced.

Shortly after, Youngkin visited NCI and was received by a crowd of representatives of different clubs and organizations that operate out of NCI along with many local community partners — though the news media was not invited.

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During his Jan. 26 visit, Youngkin offered some suggestions and advice to the institute’s leadership on the topic of its business plan, Sumner said.

Sumner said suggestions included using their facilities or equipment, for example their innovation lab, to create new partnerships that will then grow in different ways like completing studies or innovation projects together.

He also said that Youngkin encouraged NCI to look at what comes next and be looking into things that will create revenue, increase partnerships and incorporate into and grow K-12 education partnerships.

Sumner said Youngkin’s suggestions will be reflected in the business plan.

However, Sumner said to the board, “We don’t dance around the fact that the current situation with the foundation [New College Foundation] does hinder us and our capabilities and ability to grow moving forward.”

On Feb. 7, 2023, New College Foundation (NCF) announced that it would change its mission and reorganize to support organizations outside of NCI under the new name of the MHC Academic Foundation (MHCAF).

NCF was created in 2006 with the sole purpose of being the financial organization supporting NCI. When the foundation announced it would start supporting other organizations with money that was intended for NCI, it received a letter from the Attorney General’s Office the next week.

It stated that the decision, “requires discussion, as well as clarification regarding the funds raised, endowed, or held for NCI’s benefit prior to Feb. 7, to the benefit of any organization or entity other than NCI.”

NCI has since been in discussions concerning legal action against its foundation.

Stanely said during the governor’s visit to NCI, they also discussed the situation with the foundation.

“Very supportive of our position when it came to our existing foundation and our drive to recover the taxpayer monies that belong to the foundation from the sale of the building [NCI’s building] and for those monies that were raised for New College without any assistance from the foundation whatsoever,” Stanley said.

“That foundation has never raised one dollar,” he added. “It has all come from sources that were from the college itself.”

During the closed session of the Thursday meeting, the NCI board discussed the current status and next steps on the litigation with counsel from the Office of the Attorney General.

Navigating that hurdle with its foundation is also mentioned in the plan.

Stanley and Sumner agreed at the meeting that since news about the proposed budget cut, they have heard positive feedback on the improvements in how NCI is functioning now from where it was in the past that led to a series of articles published in 2022 by the Bulletin on the college’s efficiency and purpose.

“I think people are seeing the differences,” Stanley said. “And maybe it did take a mistake on the part of the governor’s office when it came to putting together that budget.”

“What we now have is that support that we need to be successful,” Stanley added. “And now we must be successful. There is no other option, no other course and I fully expect that.”

“Once we get the inputs from the governor’s office and from you all [the NCI board], I want to put together another meeting so that we can then finalize, implement and execute,” Stanley said.

Though the plan is not yet ready for submission or to be made public, Stanley asked the board to review the business plan and bring feedback to the next board meeting which is tentatively set to take place in March or April.