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Ann Switzer

Ann F. Switzer, RN, MSN, has accepted the position of Associate Director for the Center of Nursing Excellence (CNE) at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center (SVHEC). As Associate Director, Switzer will be responsible for oversight of CNE operations including staffing and budget management, and working with educational and training partners to expand the programs and services available in the Center of Nursing Excellence. The CNE is an initiative of the SVHEC and part of the Workforce Services @ SVHEC division.  

Switzer comes to the CNE from Mecklenburg County Public Schools where she has served as Nursing Director since 2004. Switzer brings a wealth of experience to her new role as CNE Associate Director, including working for more than 10 years as a staff RN with specialty areas in orthopedics, surgical services, renal transplant coordination, and outpatient clinic services. A native of Clarksville, Virginia, Switzer spent 22 years in Florida with successful careers in business and nursing before returning home to Southern Virginia in 2004. “We are thrilled to welcome the return of another Southside ‘star.’ Ann Switzer’s education, experience, and skills are a perfect match for the CNE, one of the SVHEC’s premier signature educational pathway programs,” said SVHEC Executive Director Dr. Betty H. Adams.


 On March 14, the University of Virginia unveiled its Hypersonic Jet Engine Prototype developed by UVA aerospace engineering researchers and students (Read the complete UVA media release here). The SVHEC's Product Design & Development team collaborated with the UVA School of Engineering & Applied Science on the construction of the jet engine model.

The Supersonic Combustion Ramjet or "scramjet" engine can travel at five times the speed of sound – or 3,700 mph. That's about twice the speed of a bullet, and it's technology that could one day allow a plane to fly from New York to Los Angeles in just 40 minutes. Dr. Chris Goyne, UVA aerospace engineering professor, and Ray Lee, UVA aerospace engineering student, visited the SVHEC last October to meet with students and to pick up the model. Read the original News & Record article here.

The University of Virginia began working on the initial concept of the newly designed scramjet 3 years ago, and the SVHEC began collaborating a year ago to create the prototype. Ray Lee a student at the University of Virginia stated that estimates to produce the prototype by industry would have cost U.Va. over $100,000. The partnership between U.Va. and SVHEC created a significant cost savings, and allowed Halifax County students the real life research and development experience. 



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.


 CNE Receives Donation

“Chester Chest” has joined the ranks of educational tools in the Center of Nursing Excellence at the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center thanks to the generosity of the Volunteer Auxiliary of Halifax Regional Health System.

The model joins other manikins used to train nursing and medical students. Chester will be used by nursing students to perfect medication administration through peripherally inserted central catheters, implanted ports and central venous catheters. They will also be able to practice sterile technique and dressing changes for the vascular access devices. Medical students will use the model to learn vascular access routes, chemotherapy site access and peripherally inserted central catheter placement.

“Dr. Lovetta Pugh, one of Halifax Regional Hospital’s surgical medical staff, recognized the need for such a tool,” states Jeaux Simmons, coordinator of volunteer services for Halifax Regional Health System, “and approached the auxiliary about purchasing it for the Center of Nursing Excellence. Because one of the auxiliary’s main interests is supporting continuing medical education, the auxiliary board of directors approved of the idea and was pleased to proceed with the purchase.”

“We are looking forward to introducing “Chester” to our students,” states Cindy Cole, nursing simulation lab specialist at the Center of Nursing Excellence. “He is a wonderful addition to the training tools we currently use and we are excited about putting him to work.”



SVHEC Opportunity Lives Here!

Industrial Maintenance/Mechatronics and Welding@SVHEC


Healthcare and Information Technology


Advanced Technology Careers


IT Academy 


Disaster Simulation in partnership with SVCC


Holiday Mannequin Challenge



Inaugural Workforce Forward 2011 Forum a Success


September 24, 2010

On September 23, the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center hosted its inaugural Workforce Forward 2011 Forum. One hundred and fifteen leaders from across southern Virginia gathered for regional dialogue focused on education, employment, and economic development. The Forum began with a welcome from SVHEC Board Chairman William E. Coleman. Dr. Betty H. Adams, SVHEC Executive Director provided an overview of the conference, remarking that the Workforce Forum would be a regular platform for regional dialogue.


Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC Director of Assessment & Advancement provided an overview of workforce initiatives at the SVHEC. She highlighted several key comprehensive offerings operated by the SVHEC including the USA TopSolid Training Institute and the Advanced Technology Lab. She also spoke about the variety of other workforce services available including specialized/customized training, facilitation services, and project management. When working with employers we are able to help identify workplace and worker skill training needs, communicate and coordinate these needs with the appropriate providers, or develop training to meet the identified needs,” Simon-Owens said.


Next, Patricia Thomas, Halifax Regional Health System’s Chief Nursing Officer and SVHEC Board of Trustees’ member, delivered a presentation on the SVHEC’s Center of Nursing Excellence (CNE). The CNE is a workforce initiative under the directorship of Simon-Owens. Thomas began by sharing the following US Bureau of Labor Statistics data about the healthcare industry:

·       The healthcare industry has added 613,000 jobs since the recession began in December 2007;

·       There will be 233,000 additional jobs for Registered Nurses each year through 2016;

·       Between 2008-2018, nursing aides, orderlies, attendants, and home health aides are among the occupations adding the most new jobs in the health care industry.


The concept for the Center of Nursing Excellence (CNE) was developed because the data showed an overwhelming demand in the region, state, and nation for qualified health care professionals. Opened in September 2008, the Center of Nursing Excellence, with educational partners, provides programs for nurse aides through candidates for the Doctorate of Nursing Practice. In addition, the CNE provides continuing education facilities and curriculum for the professional development of current healthcare practitioners. To date, the CNE has been used to provide healthcare related training and educational opportunities to 470 individuals.


Ben Capozzi, Curriculum Coordinator for the Business of Art & Design initiative at the SVHEC, gave Forum attendees a dynamic look at the SVHEC’s signature program and the award-winning work being created by Halifax County students. Capozzi stated that the Business of Art & Design is two academic programs, Digital Art & Design and Product Design & Development developed by the SVHEC in partnership with Danville Community College. Students in both academic programs share a common semester of art, design, and business basics, with a continued focus on collaboration, creativity, innovation, and real world experiences. “As an academic program we don’t expect every student to be a graphic designer, but our programs allow students to follow career paths that best align with their enthusiasms and their abilities,” Capozzi stated.  To that end, all students are provided with a flexible career pathway that provides a marketable skill set whether they step off the path with a career studies certificate or a four-year degree. “We train our students to be flexible, and so are we. Our students should assimilate easily into your business, comprehend your mission and message, understand the technologies, and execute a strategy,” Capozzi said.


One of the highlights of the Workforce Forward Forum was Dr. Christine Chmura. Dr. Chmura, President and Chief Economist of Chmura Economics & Analytics in Richmond, Virginia, presented an in-depth report with data and a data analysis specific to Southern Virginia. Dr. Chmura shared data concerning regional job loss and job creation, and the sectors of the economy worth regional investment. She spoke of the positive impact education has on the economy, stating that high levels of educational attainment throughout the Commonwealth has kept Virginia’s overall unemployment rate lower than the nation’s. She also shared data clearly showing that individuals with higher levels of educational attainment fared better during the recession, and that the jobs coming back as the economy recovers require higher skill levels than those jobs that were lost during the recession. “Less skilled workers have less flexibility in the job market and higher unemployment,” she stated. Dr. Chmura presented data about the top 20 occupations in demand in southern Virginia, and provided insight into sectors of the economy that southern Virginia could develop and grow across the region.


Dr. Betty H. Adams and David Kenealy, who gave Forum attendees a first look at the SVHEC’s Innovation Center and the R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency, followed Dr. Chmura. The Innovation Center, next door to the Prizery, is currently being renovated, and once completed, will house the SVHEC’s signature Business of Art & Design programming, Workforce at the SVHEC, a 75-seat tiered classroom and conference center, and the R&D Center. The R&D Center for Advanced Manufacturing and Energy Efficiency will work with small and mid-sized businesses to help solve their product design dilemmas, assist them in creating new products and components, and lower their manufacturing costs through technological efficiencies. While the Innovation Center will not come online until 2011, research & development services are now available.


Over lunch, Forum attendees participated in roundtable discussions with a diverse group of educators, businessmen and women, policymakers, and economic developers. They discussed, from a regional perspective, the data presented and the impact the data should have on the region’s efforts to grow and move forward.


Following the roundtable discussions, The Honorable Mary Rae Carter, Deputy Secretary of Commerce and Trade for Rural Economic Development, and Dr. Robert Leber, Special Advisor to the Governor for Workforce Development and the Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Employment Commission, delivered the keynote address. Their addresses focused on sharing information from the state level on job creation and economic development strategies for Southern Virginia. Deputy Secretary Carter stated “For way too long rural Virginia has been the Commonwealth’s best kept secret. My goal is to have rural Virginia well known domestically and globally as a place to start a business and to relocate a business.” She also shared information on legislation and statewide economic development efforts that will benefit Southern Virginia. Deputy Secretary Carter ended by saying “Governor McDonnell and his administration views Halifax County and the surrounding area as a vital strategic partner in the socio-economic successes of this great Commonwealth.”


At the end of the day, Dr. Adams provided a summary of the roundtable discussions and attendees were given the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Innovation Center. In summarizing the event Nettie Simon-Owens, SVHEC Director of Workforce Assessment & Advancement , said, “The Workforce Forward Forum is an example of the SVHEC’s commitment to focus on critical issues affecting businesses and individuals in our communities. Through events like the Forum, Workforce @ SVHEC will continue to work with various workforce stakeholders to identify and deliver solutions to the ever-growing needs of this region. We plan for today’s forum to become a regular platform for continued dialogue about education, employment, and economic development.”


The Workforce Forward Forum is an initiative of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Center. Copies of presentations from the Workforce Forward Forum is posted on the SVHEC’s website, www.svhec.org, and video of the forum is available on the SVHEC’s Youtube channel, www.youtube.com/svhed. For more information about the Workforce Forward Forum or SVHEC Workforce initiatives contact Nettie Simon-Owens at information@svhec.org or
434-572-5477 and toll free 1-800-283-0098 ext 5477.