Advocating for Private Colleges in Virginia to Retire

FERRUM, Va. (WDBJ) — For the past 40 years, Robert Lambeth has been a leading advocate for private colleges and universities in Virginia. This week, the organization he leads announced its intention to retire.

Lambeth joined the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia in 1983. The organization now represents 27 schools, and Lambeth says they’ve learned they’re stronger when they work together.

On Thursday afternoon, Ferrum College admissions counselor Katelyn Moore led a campus tour for prospective students and their parents. It’s Virginia Private College Week, and Ferrum is one of more than 20 schools hosting open houses and other events. It’s just a way for schools to work together.

“There are certainly things that individual colleges need to do on their own, but we’ve found over the years that when colleges, especially smaller colleges, work together they can sometimes achieve better results,” Lambeth told WDBJ7 in an interview.

Lambeth championed the Virginia Tuition Assistance Scholarships. Next year they will provide $5,000 for every full-time Virginia student attending a private college in the state.

He helped develop health insurance and pension programs that many schools offer to their employees.

Dr. David Johns is the president of Ferrum College.

“Sometimes our voices aren’t as strong as each other, but when we come together, that voice is magnified, amplified,” Johns said in an interview. “It helped us bring attention to Richmond, which we needed and which benefited everyone, which benefited our students.”

And despite recent challenges, including the pandemic, Lambeth said he believes private colleges and universities in Virginia remain on solid footing.

“Our institutions, most of them, have been around for over 100 years,” Lambeth said. “We have excellent presidents, so they have risen to the occasion. Certainly the pandemic has been a huge challenge for our institutions, and we have weathered the storm, and now we are bouncing back and getting back to a more normal situation. . »

The Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia has an office in Richmond and a significant presence in Bedford County where Lambeth lives. He says it will be up to his successor to decide the future of the organization in these places.

Lambeth isn’t leaving right away. He plans to stay on until the Council appoints his successor.

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