The Northern Virginia region is taking steps toward establishing a satellite campus in the area for Virginia's two public historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs).
Since last summer, leaders with Virginia State University and Norfolk State University have discussed the idea of a physical campus in the region. Last month, discussions on locations progressed.
President and CEO of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority Victor Hoskins said the two schools presented their basic requirements for the campus during a Northern Virginia economic alliance meeting.
"The purpose of that meeting was basically to give all the economic development directors and their teams the opportunity to hear what the general requirements are of the campuses, like what they're looking for," Hoskins said.
According to Northern Virginia Regional Commission chair and Dumfries Town Council member Cydny Neville, several municipalities showed interest in having the campus come to their jurisdiction.
"Ultimately at this point, the ball is in the court of HBCUs. Everyone is really excited for the outcome of the Economic Development Alliance meeting," Neville, a Virginia State University alumna, said.
Neville said the Northern Virginia Regional Commission has been working since July 2021 to make the regional campus a reality.
"There are no HBCUs north of Richmond, and it would be a game changer in people's lives to have access to quality education through an HBCU if we had a presence in our region," she said.
Neville, a first-generation college graduate, also highlighted the difference between HBCUs and other universities as a reason for supporting the campus.
"It's the education of a lifetime because you're not just in a seminar as a number—professors care about you,” Neville said.
She said the campus would also benefit the region's economic development, saying easy access to higher education would cause the median income to increase.
Municipalities that already have state institutions may be at an advantage as leaders could establish the satellite campus at an existing campus, according to those involved.
"Some of the municipalities actually already have state institutions that are located there. Those state institutions can create a colocation relationship with NSU and VSU because they're state institutions," Hoskins said.
Hoskins said several municipalities are eager to bring the campus to their region because it brings intellectual capacity and income.
"Also, something a little bit more important is, it gives our businesses a connection to the labor force, and talent right now is really the new currency of economic development," Hoskins said, highlighting the high volume of current job openings in the state.
He said the next steps likely include private conversations between the universities and the interested jurisdictions.