July 29, 2015


MARTINSVILLE, Va. – What’s in a name? For New College Institute (NCI), newly unveiled names for classrooms and spaces within their new building represent the generous support of education on behalf of local businesses and individuals.


The Building on Baldwin, Building our Future capital campaign was launched in October 2012 to fund NCI’s first newly built campus structure. As a challenge from the Harvest Foundation, New College Foundation (NCF) raised more than $2.5 million from individuals, corporations, foundations and grant programs in this region and beyond. Achieving this milestone completed the total fundraising effort of nearly $20 million for construction, furnishings, and technology for the state-of-the-art building on the historic Baldwin Block in Uptown Martinsville. 


Debbie Lewis, NCF development officer, announced naming rights within NCI’s new building at a reception for major donors on Tuesday. “The continued support of individuals and corporations within Martinsville-Henry County has sustained many successful endeavors to support community vitality. We appreciate the commitment that our community has shown toward NCI, demonstrating the premium value placed on education within community revitalization,” said Lewis. “Tonight we honor the individuals and corporations whose leadership gifts not only showed vision and faith in this innovative project, but also helped to build momentum for other donors.”


At the reception, NCF also recognized the generosity and the visionary leadership of the Harvest Foundation, which provided the initial investment toward construction of the new building on the Baldwin Block. NCF thanked the City of Martinsville for their land contribution. This land, known as the Baldwin Block, provided inspiration in honoring historical achievements alongside innovative development in education.


Many donors shared their enthusiasm and support for the work of NCI.  Richard Hall of Commonwealth Laminating shared, “We felt that our investment in New College Institute represented our belief that education and workforce development are the cornerstone of the continued growth of our business and vital to our community. We are a proud to be part of this effort!”


Phil Gardner also shared his support by saying, “My partners, Len Barrow and Pat Sharpe, and I are pleased to have the opportunity of making this gift in honor of Ben’s immeasurable contributions to the socio-economic well-being of our community.”


Dr. Leanna Blevins, acting director of NCI, shared her gratitude for local support of NCI’s mission in providing innovative solutions to the educational needs of Martinsville-Henry County.  “We are tremendously grateful for the support of many community partners. Even more important than the dollar amount raised is the impact that these funds will have on the lives of our students and the positive effect that this trailblazing initiative will have on the economic strength and vibrancy of our community.”


Description of Named Spaces


Located off of the Main Street entrance, Bassett Commons can accommodate approximately 1,000 people. Features of this space include three collaborative amphitheaters which can be used as meeting spaces among students and professionals. These unique meeting areas are wired for electricity and will allow for creative discussions and lectures at NCI.


The primary event space for large gatherings, lectures, and conferences, the Martin-Lacy Lecture Hall is highly adaptable to the needs of our community. The Martin-Lacy Lecture Hall features advanced technology including room dividers that temporarily descend from the ceiling, allowing the space to be divided into three separate meeting spaces. Additional features include four projectors and descending screens, allowing for at least one projector and screen in each of the spaces when room dividers are in use.


Other named spaces include the Hamlet-Walker Innovation Lab, the largest of the second floor classrooms. This space overlooks the Advanced Manufacturing High Bay and features innovative technology for students and instructors with the goal of bringing together individuals from different disciplines to solve problems and generate solutions.


The Benjamin R. Gardner Board Room on the third floor overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains. Technology features of this conference space allows for seamless interaction with partners throughout the nation and the world, making it a perfect meeting location for the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation as they connect with business prospects for our community.


The Corridor to Advanced Manufacturing was made possible through the generosity of the employees and board of directors of Commonwealth Laminating and Coating. This space leads to the Advanced Manufacturing High Bay, the pinnacle of advanced equipment within New College Institute. This space was specifically developed to provide the highest level of hands-on, innovative training and technology to both our students and local industry partners.


The Memorial Hospital Mezzanine welcomes guests entering from the Fayette Street entrance of NCI’s building. The architectural features provide a grand view of all floors of the building. This space also includes seating areas and a wall feature recognizing donors to the Building on Baldwin Capital Campaign.


The gathering space within the first floor lobby was given in honor of Hooker Furniture employees. Groups of desks and seating areas that serve as gathering spaces for students and professionals to work together and maximize efficiency.


The second floor collaboration space was made possible by a generous gift from the Charity League of Martinsville and Henry County. This space is primarily used by the faculty and staff of the Piedmont Governor’s School for Mathematics, Science and Technology and supports innovative learning environments for the high school juniors and seniors participating in this program.


The classrooms in NCI’s new building are fully equipped with the most cutting edge technology available to students today. Unlike traditional classrooms, these spaces fully integrate technology so that students can collaborate through the use of shared screens. Students can personally connect to these screens through cables available at their workspaces. Technology also allows students to connect beyond NCI to multiple sites in the Commonwealth, the United States, and the globe.

These classrooms on both the first and second floor of the building are named to honor the dedicated employees of Bassett Furniture Industries, both past and present; contributions made by William D. and Virgia B. Hobson to help lead this community to a new day; first generation college students; and the memory of Gary Peverall. Other classrooms were named for local individuals and foundations including the Allan McClain family, Wilbur S. and Lillie T. Doyle Foundation; Susan and Will Pannill; and Jett D. and Irving M. Groves.  


Lewis concluded by commenting on the support of the entire community to contribute to the fundraising efforts and goals of NCI. She shared, “although the focus of our attention this evening on the leadership gifts in the Building on Baldwin capital campaign, the New College Foundation is extremely grateful for the involvement of our entire community and the generosity of a very large network of strong supporters. Each and every one have made a difference.”