Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Roger G. Baldwin


A large agency of the Federal Government, three public institutions of higher learning, and two agents of State Government in the Commonwealth of Virginia launched a federally funded research and education consortium in 1962. The Virginia Associated Research Center (VARC) promised great success. The University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and The College of William and Mary joined forces to provide the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Langley Research Center with a scientific research base and a graduate education program. The Commonwealth initially provided enthusiastic support from the Governor's office and from the State Council for Higher Education.;The three colleges agreed to cooperatively manage and operate the NASA Space Radiation Effects Laboratory on the Virginia Lower Peninsula. NASA funded the costs of operating the laboratory, gave the colleges research time for experiments and provided the colleges with large multidisciplinary grants. In return, the colleges were to set up graduate education programs for NASA employees. These graduate programs were to grant degrees from the respective institutions for course work taken at the VARC site on the Peninsula. The research function of the consortium proved to be more productive than the education function.;Certain criteria for successful and unsuccessful consortia were ascertained from the literature. VARC's characteristics were analyzed according to these specific criteria. The three institutions could not agree on how to operate the facility. Inherently weak governance structures in the consortium led to the failure of the venture; after only five years, the consortium dissolved. The Governor of Virginia placed the Center under the auspices of the college nearest the Peninsula, The College of William and Mary. Though unsuccessful as a consortium, VARC became a means to achievement for the three colleges. Each of the three gained stronger, more reputable physics departments and two of the institutions achieved modern university status. A qualitative analysis emerges as the consortium's operation and characteristics unfold through oral history. The study details circumstances which led to VARC's demise and simultaneously describes a key transitional period for The College of William and Mary in its three hundred year history.



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