FY 23 SWVHEC Annual Report

ANNUAL REPORT 2 0 2 2 - 2 0 2 3


Letter from Leadership I II Mission, Vision, Core Values Statements 4 Impact at a Glance 5 III 3

IV A Great Place




Doing Great Things


Because of Great People



Partner Updates




Financials at a Glance

Board of Trustees



SWVHEC Foundation



In Memoriam: Rachel D. Fowlkes



2022-2023 Annual Report



To our partners, funders, and friends:

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC), located in Abingdon, Virginia, is the first multi-college and university institution of higher education in the Commonwealth. Established as a State Agency in 1991, the Higher Education Center partners with public and private colleges and universities to provide degree programs, certificates, and professional development courses. A variety of learning options and class times are available, ranging from face-to-face instruction in the daytime and evening to online study any time. With approximately 110,000 square feet of professional classrooms, large conference areas, labs, and administrative space, the SWVHEC accommodates hundreds of events annually. The SWVHEC has a vision for achieving its mission of strengthening the regional economy of Southwest Virginia by providing higher education and professional development training of the current and future workforce. This vision is: To Be a Great Place, Doing Great Things Because of Great People.

A Great Place The Great Place goal is to create and maintain an attractive building with properly functioning components and systems that are well maintained, and provide surroundings and conditions conducive to quality instruction, learning, and outstanding event experiences. First impressions are some of the main selling points for students, clients, and community members. Doing Great Things The Doing Great Things goal is to ensure the Center is addressing the economic and workforce development needs of the region through its programs and services. This is accomplished by collaborating with higher education partners throughout the Commonwealth to expand opportunities for Southwest Virginia. In addition to college-level degree, GED and workforce certification programs, the Center offers experiential learning opportunities such as the K-5 STEM Academy, LEGO Robotics competitions, summer camps, and the College for Older Adults. Because of Great People The Great People goal is to provide team members with the culture and tools necessary to meet the mission of the Center through a stable and safe work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center continues our mission to serve the people of the region through our programming and services focused on educational, professional and workforce development opportunities.





The mission of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is to strengthen the regional economy of southwest Virginia by providing higher education and professional development training of the current and future workforce.


To Be a Great Place, Doing Great Things Because of Great People


Hospitality, Innovation, Regional, Education, Dedication



Providing partners and guests with exceptional experiences and customer service by being capable, enthusiastic and engaged.


Anticipating change regarding the educational and workforce needs of the region by encouraging new ideas and approaches to the way we “do business.”


Creating strong relationships and effective collaboration with local, state and federal partners to achieve strategic outcomes.


Supporting learners with a safe and stimulating environment to learn, achieve their potential and further their career pursuits.


Devoting resources and committing hard work to create a facility that serves the Southwest Virginia community. 4


Conference Services

$273,108 Conference Services Revenue

55,000 Event Attendees

756 Confirmed Reservations 3,110 Confirmed Bookings

286 Organizations Served

76 New Clients



Educational Outreach

4,402 Students & teachers served by STEM programming

889 Testing Center administered tests

430 College for Older Adults participants

Center Operations

10 College/University Partners 4 Other Educational Partners

42 Full & Part Time Staff

$16,618 Investment in Staff Professional Development


A GREAT PLACE The Center invested over $700,000 and completed a number of exciting capital and facility improvement projects throughout fiscal year 2023.

Completed Projects

Upgraded the video projection system in the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Grand Hall Replaced all carpet located on the entire first floor Replaced all partner suite office furniture Completed upgrades to classrooms 233, 244, and 143 Upgraded all banquet tables used in the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Grand Hall and conference classroom tables Replaced the stage system used inside the Joseph P. Johnson, Jr. Grand Hall Replaced the sound system located across all common areas and restrooms Purchased and installed two virtual cadaver tables

Upcoming & Ongoing Projects Creation of a Regional Simulation Lab for Nursing and Allied Health Replacement of all windows in the facility Paint the walls of the entire 2nd floor Upgrades to the outdoor patio area: outdoor kitchen outdoor AV system outdoor lighting new patio furniture Replacement of all ceiling tiles throughout the entire building



About the Project

In October 2022, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation was awarded $100,000 from the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, matched with $111,754 in other funding, to create a virtual cadaver lab. After the lab equipment was purchased, the lab opened in December 2022. The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation, A. Linwood Holton Governor's School, and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center all partnered together, with each providing a cash match. The project is benefiting pre-health and health profession students who will go on to secure well-paying jobs in the region. Partnering with six different colleges and universities, the virtual cadaver lab is projected to provide 5,000+ training hours annually to approximately 350 students enrolled in Doctor of Pharmacy, Family Nurse Practitioner, Doctor of Nurse Anesthesia, Bachelor of Nursing, Medical Lab Science, and Associates Degree Nursing programs, plus Human Anatomy & Physiology, Medical Terminology, and Biology college classes offered by A. Linwood Holton Governor's School with college credits awarded through all local community colleges.

What Is a Virtual Cadaver Lab?

A virtual cadaver lab offers distinct advantages over physical cadavers, such as the ability to erase mistakes, explore multiple specimens, record and play back dissections for assessment, and augment the experience with tissue and organ specific information. Students coming from the digital native generation have proven to benefit most from anatomy courses, while utilizing multiple instructional resources. The Anatomage Table used in the Southwest Virginia Virtual Cadaver Lab has the capability to view anatomy from any angle, zoom in and out, highlight individual structures and virtually dissect tissue. Two Anatomage Virtual Dissection Cadaver Tables were purchased, along with multiple task trainers (Knee Joint, Kidney, Urinary System, Blood Cell Model, etc.).


The Center provided many STEM opportunities for students and teachers. The Center hosted a Code VA professional development workshop for regional K-12 educators. The Center also welcomed K-5 students for STEM Day Camp during the summer and K-5 STEM Academy during the school year. These educational outreach opportunities served over 4,400 students and teachers. The College for Older Adults features many educational, inspirational and thought provoking sessions in history, arts, gardening, movies and practical applications for adults 50 years or older. In the past fiscal year, the Center served over 400 adult learners over two semesters. The Center worked with the General Assembly and the Virginia Department of Planning and Budget to secure another round of funding for the new Rural Virginia IT Apprenticeship program. For fiscal years 2023 and 2024, three million dollars ($1.5 million per year) was allocated to the program. To date, four companies are active in the program with 15 apprentices approved and 12 hired. The program has already awarded over $667,000 in grants to companies. The Center hosted the 2022 LEGO regional competition on Saturday, November 12, 2022, with 24 teams participating and approximately 1,100 attendees. DOING GREAT THINGS


“AMAZING. Literally amazing! The entire staff was spot on! Technology was some of the best we have seen in a meeting room space. Caterer knew the facility and performed as if it were their own kitchen. Very clean facility. Versatility to meeting room space was on point. We will definitely be back! Great job to your team!” WHAT OUR EVENT SPACE CUSTOMERS SAY This fiscal year, the Center welcomed some exciting new events such as the Rob Con Comic Book Convention, the Monroe Mandolin Camp, and the Boys & Girls Club Bi Annual Craft Fair. These are all multi-day events that have already booked with the Center again for next year. In addition to new events, the Mid-Atlantic Garden Faire was back with a full-scale show in April. Wee Cycle, the Virginia Highlands Festival, and Mistletoe Market are bringing in hundreds of visitors to the Center over multiple days. The Appalachian Long Distance Hikers Association continues to be a repeat customer. We feel very fortunate to have these large annual events here, and we look forward to our continued partnerships with each of them.

“We wish we could recreate the Higher Ed Center in other places we host events! The service and quality of the location is amazing.”

“Wonderful facility and wonderful staff. The staff is friendly and always willing to help.”

“The facility is beautiful and always so clean. Staff is great to work with.”

“Thank you for providing the perfect venue for our graduation event. Your team is very knowledgeable and responsive. It’s stressful to put on an event and you all made it go very smoothly.”



A memorandum of understanding signed on December 15, 2022, between the Appalachian College of Pharmacy (ACP) and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC) marks the official start of a partnership that will see ACP classes offered at the Higher Ed Center in addition to being offered at the college’s Oakwood campus. ACP offers the Commonwealth’s only accelerated three-year program leading to a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. A cohort of approximately 20 students will be chosen to participate in the distance learning initiative provided through the ACP Announces Partnership to Offer Classes at SWVHEC

Pictured (L-R): David Matlock; Michael McGlothlin, J.D. President, ACP; Shamley Abdelfattah, PharmD, faculty, ACP; Susan Mayhew, Ph.D., Dean, ACP.

partnership. Current students completing their first year of pharmacy school will be given the opportunity in February to apply for the distance learning option, and if selected, will begin classes at the Abingdon facility in the Fall of 2023. Emory & Henry College Joins SWVHEC as Full Partner Education leaders came together to sign a partnership agreement on February 7, 2023, between Emory & Henry College (E&H) and the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC) to expand educational opportunities for the region at the SWVHEC. E&H signed this agreement with the Center to bring new programs to the Abingdon campus in healthcare and business. As a partner, E&H will have

its own office at the Center to work with prospective and current students, and to plan courses at the Center utilizing its state of the art technology. The College has recently opened a School of Business and a School of Nursing in addition to its Schools of Health Sciences and School of Arts & Sciences. The parties will work collaboratively in the allocation of resources to achieve the greatest advantages in service to the higher educational needs of the region’s citizens, and to encourage expansion of higher education in the region.

Pictured (L-R): Adam Hutchison, Ph.D., President, VHCC; David Matlock; John W. Wells, Ph.D., President, E&H; Michael Puglisi, Ph.D., Provost, E&H.


HIGHLIGHT: REGIONAL LAB SCHOOL Emory & Henry College and its partners were awarded the College Partnership Laboratory School Planning Grant for $200,000 from the Virginia Department of Education. The proposed Southwest Virginia Healthcare Excellence Academy Laboratory School (SWVA HEALS) program will be designed to establish a high school career academy for 10th-12th graders to serve as a “pipeline” for preparing future healthcare professionals to meet the workforce shortages in Southwest Virginia.

Pictured above are representatives from the lab school partners including: Emory & Henry College Schools of Health Sciences and Nursing, the public school divisions of Smyth County, Wythe County, Washington County, and the City of Bristol, the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, the A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Wytheville Community College.

Studies have found that students who grow up in a rural region and earn their healthcare degree in that region are more likely to live and practice in that region. The proposed laboratory school is designed to provide a “grow our own” approach to addressing the

Three locations will be used for the new SWVA-HEALS program--in Marion at the E&H Health Sciences Campus and the Henderson School, and in Abingdon at the Southwest Virginia Higher Ed Center. Offering three locations will be beneficial to students in multiple ways, including shorter commutes and safer travel. The SWVA-HEALS program will also incorporate several dual credit courses and potential certificate options. As a result, this experiential learning model will allow students to graduate high school with college credits, career-related experiences, and real-world career preparation. workforce shortages in this rural region. While this high school “pipeline” approach will not provide an immediate impact on the healthcare areas that require baccalaureate and graduate degrees for entry into the professions, it will establish a high quality, sustained pathway for training future healthcare professionals. Investment in the establishment of this “pipeline” will pay dividends well into the future.

“The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is excited to embark on this opportunity with Emory & Henry College and the other partners. We are especially looking forward to growing the pipeline of high school students interested in healthcare professions to meet the demands of our region.” -David Matlock



In the summer of 2022, Governor Glenn Youngkin made a stop at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. His visit included time to interact with local students and see firsthand the STEM education activities taking place at the Center. He was particularly interested in flying drones and the LEGO robotics. While at the Center, he also hosted a roundtable discussion of about 45 people--superintendents, teachers, specialists, students and parents--to hear their views on what schools need to continue to progress. The topics included classroom instruction, expectations for student progress, state education requirements, career training and internships, student mental health and the state budget item for $100 million to fund “laboratory” schools for career education. The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is part of a regional partnership to create a lab school that is focused on educational pipelines for health care careers.


BECAUSE OF GREAT PEOPLE The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center’s leadership knows that people are our best and most valuable resource. Investment in professional (and personal) growth and development is essential to the success of the Center. For this fiscal year, the Center has made significant investments in our great people:

Expended $16,617 to support professional growth and development opportunities for Center team members. Conducted a review of all hourly wage rates for part-time team members and implemented an across-the-board increase for all wage team members by setting a minimum hourly pay rate of $15.00 per hour. Provided virtual professional development training opportunities at no cost to the team members or the Center through a purchased license with RightNow Media @ Work. Completed a common read of The Fred Factor by Mark Sanborn. This book examines how passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. This common read is the second book for Center team members to examine how attitude and culture drive behavior, and behavior drives habits, and how culture trumps strategy every time. Continued exploring security options to ensure a safe environment for students, faculty, partners and team members. FY 23 Retirees Alicia Young, Jeffery Webb and Douglas Viers had combined Center experience of over 64 years!

Continued to provide monthly team building, fun activities to allow team members to get to know each other. The “Fun Committee” was able to offer activities during FY23 that were engaging and encouraged team play. The Center budgeted $2,500 to support monthly team building activities. Grew the Employee Recognition Program. The Center’s Fun Committee created a program to recognize team members for their hard work, dedication and going above and beyond the call of duty. The “caught doing a great job” initiative has been a very successful undertaking whereby colleagues can recognize each other’s hard work. Hosted the 2nd Annual “Team Retreat” at Goldie’s Refuge located in Whitetop, Virginia. Research has shown that taking healthy breaks from the workplace can boost overall productivity. This offsite team retreat allowed for engaging team building activities. This environment provided everyone an opportunity to play and strengthen team relationships.



Gabriel Perry, DNAP, graduated with the class of 2022 from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Nurse Anesthesia program. Gabe describes his experience in his own words: “I was born and raised in east Tennessee. I had always planned to go into the medical field. I graduated from East Tennessee State University with a bachelor’s degree in nursing in 2017, and worked at Johnson City Medical Center in their cardiac intensive care unit until 2019 prior to continuing my education with VCU in 2020. A fellow student and friend in the program who shared the same goal of becoming a CRNA told me about VCU’s Nurse Anesthesia program at the Higher Education Center (in Abingdon, VA). Even though we were a distance site, the ability to see and speak in real time to our classmates and professors spread throughout Virginia made the experience personable and made it feel like we were one class instead of just several different sites.”

“After completion of the program, I have accepted a full-time position with Paragon Anesthesia at Johnson City Medical Center. The opportunity given by the Higher Education Center and VCU allowed me to stay close to my home and family while also receiving my education from one of the best programs in the country. I am extremely thankful to have learned from such great professors and amazing clinical instructors. After completing the program, I would tell others what I had always been told before going into it, which is that it is difficult but very rewarding. I plan to remain in the area for the foreseeable future and continue to give excellent care to the residents of my home.”

Connor Ratcliff successfully completed the Mount Rogers Regional Adult Education Program’s “Tools for Success” IET (Integrated Education and Training) scholarship program. Connor describes the program in his own words: “I first went to college for automotive but it wasn’t a good fit. My uncle is in the field of HVAC and it inspired me to try it out. College is a little harder than before but I push through it with a smile. Through this scholarship, I learned about hard work and never giving up. Everyone was helpful and it was an easy way to learn other subjects that I’d struggled with. It was very helpful having teachers to help encourage me as I went through it. I completed my goals and did good in math which was my worst subject. I would recommend the ‘Tools for Success’ program to future students as a way to earn a similar set of tools and learn that, no matter what, there is always going to be a way to succeed in your learnings. You should never give up on goals. When having doubts, just fight through them because there is no such thing as a failure. I never thought I’d do good in math but I surprised myself and I did amazing. I am ready for my next steps. I plan to just keep moving forward.”


Anthony Wilson completed Radford University’s Masters of Counseling and Human Development with emphasis in School Counseling at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in Spring 2022. Anthony describes his experience in his own words: “I am from Wise, VA. I have been a teacher in Wise County Schools for the past 17 years. I heard about Radford’s Masters in School Counseling program at the SWVA Higher Education Center through email correspondence and I had a great experience taking classes and earning my degree. The professors were great and I developed many lasting friendships. I am currently in my first year as a school counselor at L.F. Addington Middle School (Wise). Completing a graduate program is challenging but so rewarding.” “This program equipped me with the skills necessary to become a successful school counselor. If you are thinking about completing a degree, don’t wait. You will never regret bettering yourself.” Becky McKinney also completed Radford University’s Masters of Counseling and Human Development with an emphasis in School Counseling in 2022. In addition to this degree, she also completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Psychology from UVA-Wise at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center in 2004 and completed her licensure program in Elementary Education PK-6 from Old Dominion University, also at the Center. She has been teaching school for nine years. She describes her experience in her own words: “I had been thinking about school counseling for quite some time as I felt that school counseling brings all of my experiences together. I love students, the school environment and have an incredible empathy and desire to help students cope, grow, and find their strengths despite the growing mental health concerns and challenges they face.”

“The cohort was designed for working individuals. A grant became available that would pay a portion of the tuition. I had no more excuses and knew it was the right time. With my experience as a teacher, social worker and counselor, I had the opportunity to work as an interim school counselor to fill a vacancy while completing the program. I am a licensed school counselor serving the Meadowview Elementary School family for my fifth year. I am so blessed to be in the position in which I feel led to serve. All of my experiences and the paths I have taken have given me the experience I need to support students and families.”


Partner Updates

Allison Mays started as the director of the Virginia Tech Southwest Center on May 10, 2023. Allison previously served in a number of roles at Emory & Henry College, including most recently as director of government relations. In addition to Emory & Henry, Allison has held significant leadership roles with organizations such as Mount Rogers Community Services, Healing Hands Health Center, and the Barter Theatre. From 2015-19, she served on the Washington County Board of Supervisors. She is currently a member of the board of directors for the Birthplace of Country Music, Friends of SWVA, Virginia Ed Strategies and Blue Ridge PBS. Allison is excited for the VT Southwest Center to plan and host upcoming professional and workforce development events and activities, such as leadership training for Southwest Virginia Alliance for Manufacturing. She has also been working on developing and supporting grant applications to address arising workforce training needs in career fields within energy and mine reclamation. She also plans to work with localities, School Boards and School Districts across Southwest Virginia on a needs assessment with an anticipated outcome of improving teacher retention. Within the community, the VT Southwest Center is partnering with the Friends of the Washington County Public Library to host a Sunday with Friends author series. Pictured: Allison Mays.

King University held four classes in Fall 2022 with a total of 32 students pursuing Masters of Nursing/Family Nurse Practitioner degrees. In the spring semester, classes included 42 students. Orientation was held at the SWVHEC in August and January. During each semester, King Univeristy held a clinical day at the Center. Each spring, the University holds a program evaluation meeting. Pictured: Spring 2023 King University MSN/FNP graduates.

Last year the A. Linwood Holton Governor’s School served 410 students, which represents 17 school divisions and 36 high schools. During that time, students earned 3,641

college credits. ALHGS held eleven events at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, primarily hosting the School’s science course lab days. These labs included animal dissection, blood typing, and anatomy (through the virtual cadaver lab). ALHGS also held two weeks of orientation each semester that all students attended for one of the days. Pictured: Students dissect a fetal pig during onsite lab day.


Radford University currently has two academic programs onsite: Masters in Strategic Communication and Masters in Counselor Education-School Counseling. Currently, nine students are served in

these programs. In FY23, Radford hosted 12 onsite professional development/community outreach events, with over 500 in attendance. Three online events were hosted out of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center with approximately 50 in attendance. Pictured: Amanda Baldwin-Estep, Ed.D., Site Coordinator, Radford University at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center.

Virginia Commonwealth University continues their Doctorate of Nurse Anesthesia Practice (DNAP) for students to become Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) at the Center. Currently, there are 29 students enrolled in the DNAP program over three cohorts. VCU has partnered with the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center to host seven events for students. In December 2022, VCU graduated six students in the DNAP program. VCU

also provides educational programming for their Bachelors in Medical Laboratory Science degree. Currently five students are enrolled for in-person classes, with 71 students enrolled in Microbiology courses online and at VCU’s Richmond campus but taught out of the Center’s facility. VCU’s graduates have a nearly 100% success rate of securing

jobs upon graduation. One unique thing about VCU’s use of the Center is the lab and simulation space to provide hands-on education, which allows students in southwest Virginia to receive the exact same education as students on the main campus. This creates students who are well prepared for their professional careers. Pictured (R): Spring 2022 graduates of VCU’s Medical Laboratory Science program. Pictured (L): VCU’s simulation lab for anesthesiology.

The Mount Rogers Regional Adult Education Program currently has 435 students enrolled in its programs, with 76 at the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center. Students are served by 22 instructors across eight localities in the Mount Rogers area. Over the past fiscal year, three students at the SWVHEC have earned

their GED and 15 students have received industry recognized credentials in Precision Machinist, Diesel Mechanics or Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC), in partnership with Virginia Highlands Community College. Pictured: Imogene Carrington receiving her GED, along with instructor Tamara Grimm.

Virginia Cooperative Extension works to improve people’s lives through research conducted by Virginia Tech and Virginia State University. Programmatic events held at the SWVHEC include the 4-H History Bowl and Reality Store,

18 which serves over 845 students. VCE also hosted the Highlands Beekeepers Association, Pesticide, and Family Nutrition Program trainings which served 262 attendees. Committee meetings and District Conferences served 249 attendees. Pictured: 2023 4-H History Bowl Winners: High Point Elementary.


Revenues General Fund $4,132,311 Non-General Fund $829,969 Carryforward $2,023,775 Miscellaneous $242,679 Restricted $238,630




Total: $7,467,364






Personal Services $2,191,776 Contractual Services $1,191,308 Supplies & Equipment $831,844 Program Support Funds $136,985

Total: $4,351,913





FY 2023

Pictured L-R: Karen Shelton, Sophie Chafin Vance, Shannon Blevins, Senator Todd Pillion, Delegate Israel O’Quinn, Adam Hutchison, Lennie Gail Mitcham, Steve Ahn, Donna Stanley, Susan Short, Charlie Jewell, Scott Kemp

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center is governed by a Board of Trustees that includes six members of the Virginia General Assembly; eight university presidents; two Agency Heads, and seven citizen members appointed by the Governor. The Executive Director/Agency Head of the Higher Education Center reports to the Board of Trustees and the Virginia Secretary of Education. The Board of Trustees meets twice a year, generally in June and December. Legislative Members: Senator Todd E. Pillion, 40th District; Senator T. Travis Hackworth, 38th District; Delegate James W. (Will) Morefield, 3rd District; Delegate Israel D. O’Quinn, 5th District; Delegate Sam Rasoul, 11th District; Delegate Jason S. Ballard, 12th District Citizen Members: Esther W. Bolling, Wise, VA; Keith Perrigan, Bristol, VA; Sophia Chafin Vance, Lebanon, VA; Karen Shelton, Bristol, VA; Lennie Gail Mitcham, Abingdon, VA; Steve Ahn, Damascus, VA; Hannah Ingram, Abingdon, VA Higher Education Members: Timothy Sands, President, Virginia Tech; John W. Wells, President, Emory & Henry College; Brian O. Hemphill, President, Old Dominion University; Bret Danilowicz, President, Radford University; James E. Ryan, President, University of Virginia; Donna Henry, Chancellor, University of Virginia’s College at Wise; Adam Hutchison, President, Virginia Highlands Community College; Michael Rao, President, Virginia Commonwealth University; Peter Blake, Director, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia; Donna Stanley, Chancellor Appointed, Virginia Community College System; Ex-Officio: David Olive, President, Bluefield University



Mission Statement:

The Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Foundation provides administrative services to support the Center entities including real property management for the benefit of the Center; and to use and administers gifts, grants, bequests and devises for the benefit of the Center. Grow and expand board of trustees to represent entire region Create an endowment to support scholarships and future programming in perpetuity Establish and enhance relationships to continue to serve the Higher Education Center Goals:

$138K The Foundation manages and oversees the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center Energy Center, located in Bristol, Virginia. Annual rental income from tenants, which can be used for programmatic purposes, is $138,000 annually.

The Foundation has committed $200,000 to leverage other public and private grant applications for the Southwest Virginia Regional Simulation Lab for Nursing and Allied Health and Virtual Cadaver Lab. $200K $305K The Foundation had an operational budget of $305,000 for fiscal year 2023. This includes $210,378 in grant income and expenses.

Foundation assets including land, buildings and equipment. $6.4M




Dr. Rachel Fowlkes served as the Agency Head and founding Executive Director of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center from October 1991 until June 2015. Rachel believed deeply that higher education would create greater economic opportunities for residents of the region. Rachel was one of the visionaries behind the creation of the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center, where she served for twenty-four years. Under her leadership, the Center partnered with ten colleges and universities around the state to offer advanced degrees, provide professional development conferences and seminars, and host regional economic development events. The Center was established to stimulate economic development and enhance educational opportunities in southwest Virginia. It was the first multi-institutional agency in the Commonwealth.

Rachel recognized that education and economic development were critical for the region and that Southwest Virginians needed access to multiple higher education resources. Remembered as a visionary leader and educator, she touched many students’ lives as an elementary school classroom teacher, a special education teacher, and the supervisor for special education for Washington County. After completing her doctoral work, she shifted her professional focus to post-secondary education and became the director of the University of Virginia’s division of continuing education in Southwest Virginia and then the state coordinator of UVA’s education programs. Using all this experience, she then eventually went on to assist with founding the Center. Rachel was also a beloved and engaged member of the community, serving as an insightful and dedicated board member for multiple local and regional organizations.

“I’m a person who has always been thinking about what we can do better, what we can do more effectively. I think the opportunities for us are infinite.” -Rachel D. Fowlkes



Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center One Partnership Circle P.O. Box 1987 Abingdon, Virginia 24212 276-619-4300 www.swcenter.edu

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