New College Institute Board Responds to Foundation Reorganization

MARTINSVILLE, VA — Richard Hall, Vice-Chairman of the Board of Directors of the New College Institute, a state higher education agency located in the Baldwin Building in the City of Martinsville Virginia, released the following statement regarding the decision of the now defunct New College Foundation’s (NCF) decision to form a new charitable foundation now known as the Martinsville Henry County Academic Foundation (MHCAF):

“Founded in 2006 by state charter by the Virginia General Assembly, The New College Institute (NCI) is a higher education state-agency of the Commonwealth and center of learning that provides access to academic degrees, workforce credentials and professional learning experiences in high quality learning environments to prepare students for regional and statewide career opportunities and participation in collaborative, positive community change, while promoting regional economic prosperity and community transformation.

“Incorporated as a 501(c)(3) public charity in 2006 solely to provide ‘financial and other support to the New College Institute,’ the New College Foundation (NCF) has received significant financial support from donors who intended their charitable giving to fully support NCI, has received yearly grant monies earmarked for New College, and has received tax-payer monies utilized by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the purchase of the main campus building that the now non-functioning and defunct NCF previously owned by grants.  For the past five years, despite continued efforts by NCI to engage with its own foundation, the New College Foundation has completely abandoned and abrogated its sole responsibility to provide support for NCI. It is undisputed that the New College Foundation has never raised any money on its own for the benefit of New College during that 5-year period.  It has instead sustained itself on other funds that were previously raised for NCI without the help of the current foundation’s leadership and has obtained Virginia taxpayer monies that were paid to it by the Commonwealth of Virginia for the state’s acquisition of the Baldwin Building.

“The fact that NCF’s Executive Director works remotely from the comforts of his home in Tennessee is a clear indicator that this foundation does not work for the citizens of Martinsville and Henry County.  And it has now just been made clear that NCF has utterly failed in its singular mission to support this higher learning center.  With its recent ‘dissolution’ and attempt to re-make itself into a broader educational foundation, the now-defunct New College Foundation appears to be attempting to improperly convert those donations, grants, and tax-payer monies given to NCI through NCF, for its new foundation’s future use, with no accountability or communication to the New College Institute, or to those that made those previous donations.

“Moreover, the actions taken by the new (MHCAF) Foundation in its reorganization to improperly attempt to transfer all NCF’s previously acquired assets to the Harvest Foundation rather than to NCI upon its dissolution are completely unacceptable.” While NCI will not stand in the way of NCF trying to start over as a new foundation, it must nevertheless first divest itself of the funds it currently holds to the benefit of New College Institute.  And while New College applauds this new foundation’s (MHCAF) efforts to help the citizens of Southside, this “new” foundation cannot do so with funds that were received prior to these changes and meant to support New College Institute.

“Consequently, NCI’s Board of Directors’ Executive Committee voted unanimously at its meeting on February 9th to authorize NCI’s legal counsel, the Office of The Attorney General of Virginia, to take all steps necessary (including but not limited to immediate legal action), in order to protect the assets of the Commonwealth, New College Institute, and the tax-paying citizens of Virginia from the recent actions of the Board of Directors of the New College Foundation. New College anticipates that a new foundation supporting the Institute will be established once these funds are rightfully returned from the now defunct and ineffective New College Foundation.”

“Additionally, given that the now defunct foundation has not played any positive role and has abandoned its responsibilities to New College Institute over the last 5 years, all matters related to this new (MHCAF) Foundation are being handled by the solely by the board of NCI in conjunction with its legal counsel at the Office of the Attorney General of Virginia therefore allowing the new NCI director and staff to work toward fulling NCI’s mission without distraction.”