SVHEF History

SVHEF Origins

In 1994, the Halifax County Board of Supervisors and South Boston Town Council passed a resolution establishing the college Committee, charged with studying the feasibility of establishing a four-year college campus in Halifax County and South Boston in conjunction with several area colleges. Doing extensive research into the most effective options available to the community, the College Committee modified its initial vision in order to better meet the needs of its citizens. From the Committee, the Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. was created.

Established in 1997, the Halifax Educational Foundation dedicated the non-profit organization to the goal of affordable and accessible educational opportunities for citizens of the Southern Region. In addition, to promote and enhance continuing educational opportunities for the citizens of Halifax County, VA and surrounding areas and to carry out other exclusively charitable, educational, and scientific purposes.

Mr. Chris Lumsden, CEO Halifax Regional Hospital Health System, steered the Foundation during the first five years, and then Mr. William E. Coleman, retired President and Chief Executive Officer Tri-County Community Action, guided the Board for the next two years, followed by Mr. W. W. Bennett, retired Attorney at Law. Mr. E. Wayne Conner, retired General Manager of Presto, presided from 2006 through 2008, Mr. J Aubrey Houghton retired Town Manager served 2009 and 2010, next Mr. Tom Raab, owner/operator of Electric Service Company, served as chairman.

History of the Consortium

photo of 1997 Southern VA Higher Education Consortium boardAlso, the Foundation immediately recognized the importance of involving the college of South Central Virginia currently serving community members. Thus, the South Central Virginia Consortium was established in 1997 as a well. The Consortium was composed of the Presidents of Longwood University, Southside Virginia Community College, and Danville Community College. In addition, the President and Vice President of the Halifax Education Foundation served on the Board of Directors.

The Consortium developed, coordinated, and promoted affordable degree and non-degree programs as well as workforce training opportunities for the region’s residents. The Consortium was dedicated to the collaborative efforts in order to expand educational opportunities for the region.

The Consortium ceased to exist after July 1, 2005, when the Center became a state educational institution and assumed responsibility for developing programs for the center, House Bill 2071.

Continuing Education Center

When the Continuing Education Center (CEC) first began in 1986, it operated from a small mobile trailer located on the campus of the Halifax County High School in South Boston, VA. Three employees coordinated the educational news of the local citizens with higher education institutions. Leaving that initial one room facility in 1989, the CEC rented the old Lowe’s building with 6,000 square feet of space. With the additional room, the educational services were stepped up and courses were offered on-site as well as off-site. Due to growth of educational needs, the space became inadequate to meet the demands for the CEC.

Fundraising Efforts and Renovation of Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse

The Halifax Educational Foundation raised over $8.6 million for the renovation of the warehouse facility through a bond referendum and private gifts.

The Former Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse and five acres of land, appraised at $1.7 million and located in downtown South Boston, were donated to the Foundation on December 12, 1997 by John R. Cannon and the family of the late Bob Harris. In 1997, the Town of South Boston contributed $250,000 and the Halifax County Board of Supervisors appropriated an additional $250,000 to the Foundation as seed money. The HEF initiated a successful capital campaign and raised $1.85 million locally from private citizens and businesses.

With over a 75 percent voter approval on the November 1998 ballot, citizens approved the proposed sale of up to $1.75 million in general obligation bonds. Additional funding for the project was obtained via donations or grants from local government, citizens, businesses, industry, $596,000 from the Community Development Block Grant, USDA Rural Development, Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission, Longwood University, Southside Virginia Community College, and Danville Community College. No state funds were used for this project.

Not only did the Foundation raise the money for construction, but also to furnish and equip the full facility with state of the art technology. Both SVCC and DCC each contributed $100,000 from their Tobacco Fund allotment for technology and equipment. Longwood University provided $147,000 for the installation of wiring and technology switches for the newly renovated tobacco warehouse. In addition, the Foundation received a grant award of $1.7 million from the Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission for equipment and furnishing needs of the facility. Additionally, Halifax County supported the Adult Literacy Program through an annual appropriation of $25,222. The United Way also provided funding of approximately $4,400.

In 2001, the Halifax Educational Foundation renovated the Export Leaf Tobacco Warehouse in downtown South Boston and created a 35,000 square foot state-of-the-art educational facility. At the ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday August 19, 2001, the center changed to a new future and a new name, Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. Classes officially began in the facility on August 23, 2001.

Renovations over the years

In 2004, the HEF renovated an additional 5,700 square feet of the tobacco warehouse for an Advanced Technology Lab to provide customized workforce training. Through grants and partnerships, this lab utilizes high performance manufacturing technology.

The future changed again on July 1, 2005 by virtue of the Virginia General Assembly legislation which classified the SHVEC as an educational institution and declared it to be a public body constituted as a governmental instrumentality for the dissemination of education.

Also in 2005, via contributions and grants, the Halifax Educational Foundation, Inc. constructed 160 additional parking spaces and expanded the parking lot to 300 spaces.

December 2006, Eva Harris and family donated the 45,000 square feet former American Tobacco Warehouse to HEF.

Construction continued in 2006 with the renovation of 5,500 square feet of the unfinished space in the West Wing in order to provide additional classrooms and offices. The West Wing renovations were completed in October 2006, leaving 24,000 square feet of unfinished space remaining for expansion.

In 2008, the Halifax Educational Foundation renovated 4,175 square feet of space to create the Center of Nursing Excellence to provide “one stop shopping” for nursing education for the region.

In 2010, the ATW building was renovated to LEED compliant and historical standards, a masterful blend of old and new. The ATW houses the SHVEC’s signature Business of Art & Design program with courses in Diginal Art & Design and Product Design & Development as well as R&D Innovation Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency and Workforce Training.

HEF Scholarship Program

In a June 2004 awards ceremony held at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center the Halifax Educational Foundation (HEF) presented scholarships totaling $4,250 to six recipients.

Mrs. Deborah Powell, chair of the HEF Scholarship Committee stated, “We, the Board of Directors of the Foundation are excited about providing these scholarships to local persons attending colleges and classes offered in this facility as well as at the participating schools. In doing so, we feel that we are indeed offering an enhanced opportunity for more of our citizens to be able to continue their education and improve their lives.”

Jim Debiec presented the Old Dominion Electric Cooperative scholarships and William E. Coleman presented the Tri-County Community Action Agency scholarship award. Chris Lumsden and his mother Alvelta Hope Lumsden, presented the Hope-Tone Scholarship award.

September 2021 the Foundation provided $150,000 in funding to the Center for Career Tech Academy Programs.  The CTA needed $75,000 for HVAC Program: funds for an HVAC Instructor will be requested through the 2022-2024 Biennial Budget.  However, funds were needed for the additional equipment and material required to launch the program.  Making the case for additional HVAC instructors will be easier with the Foundation’s support.

The CNE ReFresh, this 6 month renovation cost $500,000.00 in donations to completely upgrade the faciltiy, technology, and equipment.  September 2021, the Foundation contributed $35,000.00 in addition to the Contributions from Sentara Halifax Regional Hospital, Microsoft, Chastain Home and others.  Refresh was completed July 2022.

An additional $75,000 was provided to the Center for the CTA’s GO-TEC Pilot Project.  These funds are to make a partial dollar-for-dollar match associated with the Phase 3 GO-TEC pilot projects that closes the gap between the 8th grade GO-TEC Career Connections Lab and the CTA high school courses.  These projects will be delivered by CTA instructors in the ProductWorks space.  9th and 10th graders will be engaged to learn about the skills and behaviors required to succeed in the technical workplace through projects that replicate the ProductWorks product design and development process.

June 2022 SVHEF board approved a Tobacco Commission Grant match of $99k for expanding Welding Program at Center to include NCCER Welding IV for stainless steel and aluminum per the needs and requests made by local industries: Comfort Systems and Hitachi Energy.

July 2022 The Automation Technician Program (similar to Mechatronics- just a new name) utilizing Letterpress for marketing- The Foundation funded $28,750 and Center was to contribute $20,000.-Dr. Adams expressed this should be the last request for assistance to fund marketing. (August 11, 2021 Foundation provided $50,000 to Letterpress and Center provided $25,000.)

November 2022 Foundation Board accepted a gift of property from Sterling Edmunds and his siblings Ann Tyler Allen and Paul Edmunds that was offered in a silent bid that was won by Rogers Heating and Cooling.  The funds raised from the sale of property will be used to assist funding for classes offered by the CACF/ The Prizery for low-to-moderate income families.

March 2023- Board approved $17,500 to start informative process to renovate Center basement for new HVAC Lab.  

August 2023- the  New HVAC Lab renovation was complete costing $350,000.