$2 Million TOC Funding Wasted Virginia Intermont College
Update May 8, 2014 Bristol, Virginia: Virginia Intermont College fired its last 100 employees and shuts the doors. They received over $2 million in Tobacco Commission funding under the guise of creating a tourism degree program to boost tourism. (Yeah, right.) There is no evidence they even tried to do this and refused my requests for three years to provide proof. The program was never listed in their catalog.
This was about an attempt to bailout a poorly run institution whose former president left without notice and there was a problem with embezzlement charges a few years ago. It was a political favor.
Two million in economic development dollars equals -100 jobs. They also owed $13,000 in back property taxes.
The local press reports the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has denied VI's accreditation and extended their warning status until December 2012. This is the latest "hurdle" for the 126 year old institution whose former president left suddenly when their financial problems became public. VI was on SACS probation from June 2007 to June 2009.
Virginia Intermont remains accredited, but not in compliance with two SACS standards dealing with its finances...Financial resources and long-term stability are the same issues that prompted the commission to impose the warning status initially. A school can remain on warning for a maximum of two years.
In January 2009 the Virginia Tobacco Commission porked-out $169,000 for VI to develop a "tourism degree program." I've contacted Virginia Intermont in writing asking for details on this program and I can't locate in their catalog. They refuse to answer. I can find no evidence they have ever offered a tourism degree. In their 2012 catalog I can find nothing related to tourism.
This type of funding is illegal under Virginia Law that prohibits public money from going to non-profits and was reiterated in 2011 by the State Attorney General. Yet the Tobacco Commission again flaunts Virginia Law and awarded another almost $1.4 million to Virginia Intermont. To quote their own website (www.vic.edu):
The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission voted to grant the college $1.385 million from its reserve fund...The funding is to support a $2.77 million update and expansion of Science Hall, a three-story classroom facility built in 1963. Science Hall includes general classrooms for biology, chemistry and mathematics students, a large lecture hall, computer and other laboratories and faculty offices. The building also is the home at present for business and education classes...
Note that as of 2013 that page has been removed. Again what does this have to do with helping displaced farm workers? Perhaps they're smoking something besides tobacco at the Commission?
VI has done nothing illegal. So funding that was supposed to go for the many poor and displaced residents in this area instead is once again diverted to underwrite an over-priced college for rich kids. Jobs created for the $1.6 million - zero. Ref. BHC December 08, 2011. Update: they got another $50,000 grant in 2002 and then another $150,000 in September 2011. Make that $1.8 million and zero new jobs. One can bet more money is coming.
Virginia Intermont placed on probation again
12/12/2012 Ref. Bristol Herald Courier
BRISTOL, Va. - Virginia Intermont College in Bristol has been placed on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The action was announced Tuesday at the association's annual meeting in Dallas. The Bristol Herald Courier ( http://bit.ly/TTxKfF) reports that the probation is the latest setback for the private, liberal arts college. It has struggled with financial issues for years.
For the past two years, Virginia Intermont has been on warning status, a lesser sanction.
The college's president, E. Clorisa Phillips, said school officials were disappointed with the commission's action but would continue working with it to resolve its concerns.
Update March 2013: their online catalog once again has no listing for a tourism degree program be it a major or minor. Where did the money really go? Perhaps it went to feed the fancy horses their students ride around on. See www.vic.edu
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