- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Satellite campuses of the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech in Northern Virginia are contributing to program duplication and should be examined for legitimacy, said the chief of staff of George Mason University's president yesterday.
Tom Hennessy also said the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV), which approves expansion of university programs and campuses, has not been as vigilant as necessary in monitoring the problem.
"We ought to give any of those programs that are being offered in the same geographical area a rationality check," he said.
Mr. Hennessy's comments were in response to a report yesterday in The Washington Times in which Virginia Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner said too many universities are duplicating their efforts and raised the possibility of closing some of those schools' extended campuses in Northern Virginia.
SCHEV Executive Director Phyllis Palmiero yesterday said program duplication is a hot issue the council is examining. "Duplication itself is not a bad thing," she said. "But I do think a periodic review of what's been approved in its current context is needed.
"Each university has to have its own niche," Miss Palmiero said. "Potentially, they might be trying to be all things to all people. We need to make sure the system is all things to all people. That's the challenge."
Miss Palmiero said SCHEV plans to begin a duplication study that would inventory all the programs it has approved. "That is one of the things that we think is very viable and needs to be done," she said.
SCHEV must approve new programs and locations that are not directly adjacent to university's central campus. While George Mason has three campuses within less than 30 minutes of one another, UVa. and Virginia Tech have multiple satellite campuses hours apart.
Mr. Hennessy said UVa. and Virginia Tech have expanded their campuses into Northern Virginia because more than 50 percent of Virginia's college students come from there. He said that while he was pleased with SCHEV's scrutiny of a recent Virginia Commonwealth University program expansion into Fairfax Inova Hospital, in the past SCHEV has not done so well in preventing duplication.
Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hinker said the university has an extended campus in Northern Virginia because residents and lawmakers asked for it. He said the demand for different programs justifies duplication.
"I would acknowledge that [George Masons] programs duplicate ours," Mr. Hinker said.
UVa. spokeswoman Louise Dudley said its Northern Virginia campus receives no state money and is funded solely by tuition fees. She said most of UVa.'s Northern Virginia programs are graduate and professional-certification programs not offered at other universities.
Mr. Hennessy disagreed. "They call the school Continuing Education and Professional Studies," he said, citing a list of courses such as United States history, meteorology and introduction to accounting. "When you look at the courses, I'm a little confused."
Legislators agreed with the Democratic governor-elect. Delegate Robert Marshall, Prince William County Republican, said he would look at any proposal to close redundant campuses with an open mind because he did believe some programs at universities are duplicated. "I am open to his suggestion. If we don't have the money we used to have, we cannot afford duplication," he said.
"Why do we need so many schools when we have George Mason University? It is not the best use of our money," he said.
Delegate Dave Albo, Fairfax County Republican, said there is no need to duplicate programs at several colleges. "Why do we have different universities teaching the same things? Everyone should not be an expert on the same subject," he said.
Vaishali Honowar contributed to this report.

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