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James Potter, or just Potter to his friends, was introduced to the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC) last summer when he provided a project management training course to the staff.  For 18 years, Potter worked for UVA as a management consultant & trainer. He then worked for eight years as a Pharmaceutical Research Associate, providing global training & consulting to clients. For the last two years he has served as a UVA adjunct faculty member providing project management training and consulting.

Question: How did you first learn about the SVHEC and what were your initial impressions?

Potter: I first heard about the SVHEC because my in-laws are next door in Mecklenburg County. Having the SVHEC means having the ability to reach out and provide higher education to the local community, and to meet their needs at a low cost. All of those items are key.

Question: How would you describe the resources & assets of Southern Virginia?

Potter: Southern Virginia has a wealth of untapped human resources that can be used for various things. The issue is how do you tap into them and how do you provide employment and education to them?


Question: How do you think the region benefits from the SVHEC’s work?   

Potter: The SVHEC ends up being a focal point for economic development. If you have a place (like the SVHEC) that’s trying to grow people, it can then support both your current industry and your future industry. It also supports people so they can find employment locally and also regionally. Yes, you can work for the local hospital in South Boston but you’re also within commuting distance of other health care centers.

Dr. Phil Parrish

Dr. Phil Parrish is Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Virginia. In his current role he is responsible for pan-university research institutes in nanoscience technology and research (nanoSTAR), the UVA Institute on Aging, the UVA Energy Leadership Group and serves as the UVA member on the Board of Governors of UT-Battelle LLC, the managing contractor of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He is also Principal Scientist and Director of the Intelligent Processing of Materials Laboratory in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Parrish holds a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering from the University of Florida, where he also earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in Materials Engineering.  Prior to joining UVA, Dr. Parrish worked in government and private industry in the advanced materials and manufacturing sectors.

Question: How did you first learn about the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center, and what were your initial impressions?

Dr. Parrish: I’ve gained a knowledge of the SVHEC and the region over the past couple of years through interactions with the Halifax Industrial Development Authority, Riverstone and the SVHEC. Over the past year, the SVHEC and UVA partnered to submit a request for proposal to the IDA to manage the Riverstone Energy Centre. They [the IDA] took a different direction but they asked both organizations to partner with them to develop that Centre. We have continued to do that, and I’ve become more familiar with the administration & staff at the SVHEC, the Halifax County IDA, and Riverstone.

I find the people to be highly professional, and I believe that they are able to move the economy of the region in a very positive direction.

Question: What made you want to partner with the SVHEC?

Dr. Parrish: I find that the kinds of research and innovation going on at UVA link very well with the interests of the people in Halifax & Southside Virginia, the SVHEC, and Riverstone. We seem to be able to easily build collaborations even though there’s a significant distance between us.