By Carol Vaughn —
A foundation that wants to start a four-year university on the Eastern Shore will get some help from Virginia Commonwealth University’s Executive MBA program.
The University of the Eastern Shore of Virginia Foundation, website shoreu.org, was chosen as one of VCU’s Executive MBA projects for 2021, according to Terry Malarkey, president of the foundation.
A team of six executive MBA students will create a business plan for the foundation as their capstone project.
The project kicked off Jan. 9.
“We have had a working Zoom meeting since then with our team to help them get up to speed. We were pleased to meet these 6 highly motivated mature students whose employers (Banking to Brewing!) have decided to invest in their mutual futures with this program,” Malarkey wrote in a letter about the partnership sent to elected officials.
The letter asks officials willing to be a source of information for the business plan team for their contact information, saying, “We anticipate that we will be asked to provide names of individuals who are the leaders here on the Shore and who would be able to speak to the need for higher education and its related economic benefits.”
Malarkey said, despite the coronavirus pandemic, the foundation held virtual meetings in 2020 with education officials at Old Dominion University, the College of William and Mary, Virginia Tech, and VCU.
One of those meetings resulted in VCU’s director of government relations contacting Dean Ed Grier of the VCU business school about helping the foundation with its business plan, he said.
Malarkey said the group thinks “bringing higher education to the Shore in conjunction with ESCC is the most realistic approach.”
“We are anxious to see what our VCU team discovers and recommends,” he said.
Malarkey in May 2019 asked Accomack County Board of Supervisors to consider committing land at the county’s industrial park in Melfa to the university project. The board took no action on the request at the time.
Malarkey told the board the foundatioon wants to recruit “a high-quality” Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Health university to set up a branch on the Eastern Shore.
“Our model is UVa at Wise. Our dream is Virginia Tech on the Shore,” Malarkey said then, noting setting up remote campuses is a trend among universities.
A four-year university could grow to around 2,000 students and result in 1,000 jobs and up to $100 million per year in cash flow, according to the foundation.