Date of Award

Spring 2018

Document Type

Master's Project

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Occupational and Technical Studies

Committee Director

Karina Arcaute

Committee Director

Philip A. Reed


The purpose of the study was to identify the impact that the Southwest Virginia Higher Education Center (SWVHEC), located in Abingdon, has had on area residents in the past twenty years. The case study presented here is different from others that have been written in that it measures the number of courses offered, student registrations, and professional developments available to local residents. The data was collected and triangulated using different methods, such as structured interviews, archival records, newspaper articles, University websites, and participant-observations. The study included colleges and universities with either main campuses or satellite locations in Southwest Virginia and Northeast Tennessee, specifically Bluefield College, East Tennessee State University, Emory & Henry College, King University, Old Dominion University, Radford University, University of Virginia, University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Highlands Community College, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. (SWVHEC, 2017) The former participating colleges are George Mason University, Norfolk State, and Virginia Intermont College.

The outcomes of the study identified almost 40,000 registrations from all of the colleges combined from area residents over the past twenty years. The average number of individuals served per year is 1,024. During the year 2000 the SWVHEC served the largest number of individuals (1,568), while during the year 2015 experienced the lowest number of individuals served (286).

Currently, the trends in enrollments from most of the partner colleges show a decline. Declining student enrollment is a major cause of concern for the colleges, and by extension the Center. To address this problem, the Executive Director who took control in 2015, David Matlock, has revitalized the partnership with King University and its Nursing Program. Mr. Matlock also secured a grant for Mt. Rogers Regional Adult Education (MRRAE) Program to offer General Educational Development (GED) and English as a Second Language (ESL) classes in the Center. Also, MRRAE recently signed a contract to lease an office, two classrooms and a computer lab. Another new collaboration Mr. Matlock established is with Goodwill Education Center. These and other new partnerships and programs are beginning to fill the empty classrooms and offices in the SWVHEC. Opportunities for growth are a high priority for the Center and its staff.


A Research Paper Submitted to the Faculty of Old Dominion University in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of MASTER OF SCIENCE OCCUPATIONAL AND TECHNICAL STUDIES