Southside Virginia Community College (SVCC) is a two-year institution of higher education established as a part of the statewide system of community colleges created by the 1966 Virginia General Assembly. SVCC serves primarily the residents of the city of Emporia and the counties of Brunswick, Buckingham, Charlotte, Cumberland, Greensville, Halifax (partial), Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, Nottoway, and Prince Edward. This representsan area of approximately 4,200 square miles. The college operates under the guidance of a local board, and is financed primarily by tuition revenues and state funds, supplemented by contributions from the participating localities and federal funds.
During a period from 1966 to 1968, a committee composed of local business, civic, industrial, and political leaders was appointed by the governing bodies of counties and cities in Region 20 for the purpose of promoting and establishing campuses where needed. In 1968, the plan for building the Christanna Campus of Southside Virginia Community College near Alberta, Virginia, was approved by the State Board for Community Colleges, and appropriations were made for its construction. The local advisory board for the college was established in July 1969.
The Christanna Campus was opened in September 1970 with approximately 55,600 square feet located on over 100 acres. Due to the extremely large service area assigned to the college, the John H. Daniel Campus was opened in September 1971 near Keysville, Virginia, about 40 miles northwest of Alberta. The John H. Daniel facility is located on 98 acres with approximately 57,500 square feet. A Workforce Development Center was opened on each campus in 2001. These buildings are 14,095 square feet each.
The Learning Resource Center on the John H. Daniel Campus opened in 2014. This 37,100 square foot facility houses the library, student development and financial aid services, admissions and records, the business office and a student lounge. Funds to add a similar facility at the Christanna Campus have been secured from the General Assembly. The new facility should be complete in January of 2019.
In September 1985 SVCC opened its Campus Without Walls, which was renamed the Robert C. Wrenn Campus Without Walls in October 1992. This facility allows Emporia and Greensville County residents to enroll in continuing education programs that develop and strengthen job skills as well as working towards certificate, diploma and degree programs offered by the college and participating in community service program offerings. A new facility, the Southside Virginia Education Center, opened at 1300 Greensville Circle, Emporia in the fall of 2008.
SVCC has embraced the idea of taking the college to the people due to the college’s 4,200 square mile service area. Centers are located throughout the ten-county area in order to serve constituents closer to their homes.
Southern Virginia Higher Education Center located in downtown South Boston is a state-of-the-art, modern facility housed in an historic tobacco warehouse. The first facility opened in 1989 and was known as the Continuing Education Center of Longwood College. The new improved version opened in 2001 with offerings from SVCC and Danville Community College, Longwood, Mary Baldwin College, Ferrum College, Old Dominion University, Commonwealth Graduate Engineering Program and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The facility housing the SVHEC was donated by the families of Bob Harris and John Cannon and funding for the renovation was raised by the Halifax Educational Foundation.
The Estes Community Center located on Main Street in Chase City is another example of the community banding together to provide opportunities for its citizens. The Estes family offered to match as much as $200,000 raised by the community within a 90-day period but it exceeded that figure by raising $390,000. The center offers SVCC classes has two fully equipped computer labs and a nursing simulation lab and also offers programs for children and has a large area available for rent for special events and occasions. An addition to the existing facility was completed in January 2007, adding an additional 18,000 square feet to the facility. This addition is named The Garland Building.
Lake Country Advanced Knowledge Center is located in the former Heilig-Meyers building in South Hill. The site was purchased by local government and renovated under the direction of Joyce French and Randolph Jones. The 23,000 square foot building provides education opportunities for employees of new and existing business and industry in the region, offers college classes as well as the High Performance Technology Program, the new Center for Information Technology Excellence (CITE) Program, a welding program, dual enrollment offerings, GED classes, computer classes and a cyber café.
The Occupational Technical Center at Pickett Park, Blackstone, is a facility built through the SVCC Foundation using Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission funds. The facility houses the college’s Truck Driver Training Program, Diesel Mechanics/Technicians Training Program, Automotive Technology Program and the Virginia Center for Onsite Wastewater Training, as well as the Power Line Worker Program.
SVCC also offers programs at sites throughout the service area at community-donated facilities in order to provide comprehensive training for every constituent.
The libraries on both campuses have a total collection of 37,000 volumes and over 200 periodical subscriptions. The libraries also subscribe to several hundred online electronic databases. While its main function is to support classroom instruction, the library has recreational reading and serves as a resource for the public of the service area.