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NVCC Celebrates New Higher Education Center As A Pathway To Success

© Leesburg Today - 09/25/2015

The new three-story Higher Education Center at Northern Virginia Community College's Loudoun Campus stands as a symbol of what the college wants to be for its students.

Scott Ralls, the college's new president, told those gathered for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to formally christen the center Thursday that the plan is for it to eventually house university classes.

""Students can walk across the bridge and be able to complete a bachelor's degree through a four-year institution without having to leave the campus, without having to leave Loudoun county,"" he said. ""The vital role that community colleges play is to create pathways-pathways to dreams for our students. For so many that's a pathway to universities, and that's the theme of this building.""

The $11.7 million, 42,000-square-foot Higher Education Center-called by one college leader the crown jewel of NVCC facilities-includes a state-of-the-art music recording studio, high-tech collaborative classrooms, a specialized lab for communication classes, several computer labs, faculty suites, lounge areas and a glass cantilever that extends over the campus pond to serve as a 250-person events center.

Perkins Eastman was the building's architect and Sigal Construction Corporation managed the project.

The facility is part of a larger expansion planned for the 11,000-student campus in Sterling. The second phase of the Higher Education Center calls for another 63,000 square feet of space and is slated as a catalyst for the campus to partner with Virginia universities to allow students to seamlessly complete a bachelor's degree.

""This is a good milestone, but this is only part way to the destination,"" Ralls said Thursday.

State Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33) called the campus ""a gateway"" to success for so many students. ""NOVA makes a college degree affordable and accessible for so many people who wouldn't be able to have that opportunity otherwise,"" she said.

Del. Thomas ""Tag"" A. Greason (R-32) said the word ""partnerships"" came to his mind when he thought of the college, which partners with local K-12 school divisions, universities and the community as a whole.

Just last month, the college agreed to drop its tuition fees for high school students to earn college credit through dual-enrollment courses.

""Thank you for being such a great partner to Loudoun County and to the commonwealth,"" Greason said.

Also in attendance at the ribbon-cutting ceremony were NVCC Loudoun Provost Julie Leidig, Vice Chairman of the Northern Virginia Community College Board Todd Rowley, County Chairman Scott K. York (R-At Large), Supervisors Suzanne Volpe (R-Algonkian) and Janet Clark (R-Blue Ridge), Del. Kathleen J. Murphy (D-34) and Del. Kenneth R. Plum (D-36).

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