Joe E. Sumner, current Associate Vice-President for Economic Development of Wiregrass Georgia Technical College, in Valdosta Georgia, has been selected as the new NCI Executive Director, beginning February 28.
“I am honored to join the team of New College Institute, and my family and I are excited to become active and engaged members of the Martinsville Henry County community,” Sumner said. “I look forward to continuing the successes of NCI while developing new and innovative educational opportunities for current and future students.”
Sumner was selected after an extensive search process led by members of the NCI Board, which in October announced it was beginning the search to identify the next leader of the institute.
The Executive Search Committee, led by Richard Hall, Eric Jones, and Hubert Harris, received and assessed 28 applications from candidates across the country for the position. Over the past three months, the search committee conducted a rigorous and thorough process of reviewing these applications and held multiple stages of interviews with numerous well-qualified candidates. In the final round of interviews, NCI engaged and welcomed inputs from NCI staff, peer Virginia institutes of higher education and community colleges and supporting stakeholders from the greater southside VA region. The goal was to offer a collaborative environment to gain multiple perspectives and viewpoints as a part of the decision-making process.
Sumner, a decorated soldier who was wounded while serving during Operation Iraqi Freedom, has dedicated his post-military professional career to creating the tech talent pipeline partnership between communities, education, and industry.
The Georgia native earned both a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering Technology and a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management at Kennesaw State University; he is expected to receive his Doctorate in Leadership from Valdosta University in 2023.
A former small business owner of a successful mechatronics company, Sumner brings to NCI an impressive resume of experience in both education and the advanced manufacturing industry. Believing that education, training, and workforce development are the key to sustained economic revitalization and an increased quality of life in our region, he was a leader in the development of a first-of-its-kind college and career academy in Georgia in the K-12 education space. Additionally, he has been a tireless advocate and leader in the STEM-C Robotics competition programs in Georgia’s public schools. He has most recently served as an Associate Vice- President for Program Development, Academic Affairs and Economic Development during his time at the Wiregrass Georgia Technical College in Valdosta, Georgia.
Sumner noted that he is “eager to strengthen existing relationships, rekindle past relationships, and establish new ones with partners who share the vision that NCI is an invaluable resource of opportunities for the region. Working together, we can continue to grow and strengthen the Martinsville Henry County workforce and economy for today, tomorrow, and many generations ahead.”
State Sen. Bill Stanley, chairman of NCI’s Board of Directors, said “Joe is a perfect fit for NCI. His experience, energy, “can-do” spirit, and overwhelming drive to succeed will make him a transformational leader for the Institute as we move forward. NCI’s members of its Board of Directors have been working diligently in the development of an aggressive long-range strategic plan for NCI to provide innovative, state-of-the-art educational opportunities for our students that will prepare them for the high-demand, high-paying jobs in the 21st Century workforce. Joe Sumner is the just the leader we need to ensure NCI’s success in the future. The members of the Board of Directors and I remain dedicated to the proposition that Virginia’s New College Institute will be a leader in both education and workforce training in our region, both now, and for years to come. And we are grateful for the Commonwealth of Virginia’s dedicated commitment to the economic and educational future of both Martinsville and Henry County with its unswerving support of the New College Institute Mission.”
“Given that I am a lifelong resident of Martinsville-Henry County and a product of Bassett High School, I chose to live, work, invest, and give back to the community which we call home,” Hall said. “Because of this, I was particularly sensitive to bringing in a leader that would embrace the hard-working blue-collar values of the residents that make up our community. Joe Sumner has demonstrated, throughout the interview process, a superior level of knowledge and expertise in the education and workforce training space, and he possesses a deep desire to work, live and raise his family in our community. Coupled with his unique blend of background in workforce training and academic leadership, Mr. Sumner is the right choice at the right time for future success of NCI.”
“I am proud that as a part of the candidate assessment process, we had the opportunity to involve community partners and stakeholders, as we at NCI, value their feedback and support,” said Jones. “As a 1997 graduate of Laurel Park High School and having deep family roots in the Martinsville/Henry County area, I am glad the candidates had an opportunity to meet members of the community that have educated, mentored, and inspired so many like me, throughout our lives and careers. With the selection of Mr. Sumner as the Executive Director of New College Institute, I am excited to see what the future holds as NCI pursues initiatives to engage students and enhance educational opportunities across the region.”
Harris said, “With the selection of Mr. Sumner as the Executive Director, New College Institute is well positioned to fulfill its mission by providing educational and workforce development programming for Martinsville-Henry County citizens and employers. As an educator, I know firsthand the importance of having the right leadership and supporting cast to drive success.”
Founded by the Virginia General Assembly by charter in 2006, The New College Institute is a state agency that provides access to degree programs (bachelor, master, and doctorate) through partnerships with VA colleges and universities. NCI strives to be accessible and convenient for students of all ages. Our staff, faculty, and board members are all committed to making NCI a premier educational facility for students, businesses, and the community at large. Located on the historic Baldwin Block in Martinsville, Virginia, NCI’s main campus building is a 21st century state-of-the-art educational center that was recently purchased by the Commonwealth of Virginia from a now-defunct supporting foundation in 2020.
In addition to college-level degree and certification programs, NCI also offers job-specific education and training programs, as well as experiential learning opportunities such as the NCI Internship Program and regional cybersecurity and engineering competitions. NCI continues to be a community partner with the region in sponsoring numerous events throughout the year at its main campus.