New College Taking Shape in Southern Va.
Posted January 4, 2007
The people who created Founders College looked at several sites, including Oxford, N.C., Virginia and the state of Maine before choosing 600-acre Berry Hill , which is in South Boston, Va, just across the North Carolina border.
Berry Hill’s mansion, first built in the mid-1700's, once anchored the state's largest tobacco farm. In the 21st century, the fully restored resort facility will become a college campus.
“This entire region is rich in its local history and its Civil War relationships and the founding of the nation,” said Founders College spokeswoman Jane Pennington.
Founders College will open this fall as the region's newest four-year liberal arts and business school. College officials said the school will offer a teaching style different from that in the region's colleges and universities.
Classes will be taught in meeting rooms inside the mansion, and students will be housed inside the plantation’s guest suites. Pennington said that they hope to enroll 100 students.
“We really don't believe that students should be crammed into little dorm rooms and forced to walk a hall to get to a bathroom,” Pennington said.
Founders College is already attracting teachers. Lee Sandstead gave up his teaching job in New Jersey to teach art and history at the school.
“I love the teaching philosophy,” Sandstead said. “I love the semi-rural environment.”
Some of the plantation's original buildings still stand, but fields that once grew tobacco now support satellite dishes as the old farmland finds a new purpose for the 21st century.