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Before joining the School of Government in February 2009, Ferrell served as chief information officer for the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Virginia. His efforts were recognized by the governor at the Commonwealth of Virginia Innovative Technology Symposium (COVITS) in 2004 for Technology Innovation in Higher Education. He also served as principal investigator for a three-year National Science Foundation grant that totaled $1 million, which focused on providing technology experiences for high school students. Previously, Ferrell was the IT director for the Danville Public School System. Ferrell earned an MBA from Liberty University, a bachelor's degree in business administration from Averett University, and an associate's degree in information technology from Danville Community College.