Southern Virginia University expects to hit milestone enrollment this fall

Trying different ideas like scholarships, concentrations

BUENA VISTA – Southern Virginia University is a private liberal arts college in Buena Vista that's growing rapidly.

"It may not seem like 300 students makes a difference, but it does," said Bailey Rusick, a SVU student who was a freshman in 2014.

The university's grown about 40% in the last three years and expects more than 1,000 students at the school by the fall.

"To imagine having 1,000 students on campus makes me think the future is so bright for the school. It's just going to get better and better. I know that we're not wanting to grow huge, but a thousand is great," said Rusick.

University officials attribute a lot of the recent growth to trying new things, like giving non-music majors a music scholarship.

"Someone who's very, very talented can come here, get a scholarship for music, do music, be in the orchestra, do whatever they want to do, but then be prepared to be an attorney or doctor or whatever they want to do. That's something that I don't think I haven't heard another school doing," said Brett Garcia, the SVU chief of staff, who added that students will have new concentrations to pick from, too. "If you can flavor your education a little bit with something very specific to the program or the company that you're trying to get a job with, that will really stand out on a resume or application."

There are also plans to expand with a new academic building and a dorm in the next two to three years.

"It's just a fun campus to be on because you know everybody and you get to be involved and you get to see the university grow and you get to be a part of it," said Rusick.


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