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College presidents irate over possible Bluefield State campus, city responds

Ohio County

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — The possibility of Bluefield State College opening a branch campus in Wheeling continues to be met with strong resistance. 

Presidents of local universities decided written statements weren’t enough. Instead, they aired their concerns in front of city council. 

West Virginia Northern Community College President Dr. Daniel Mosser is fed up with the city for even entertaining Bluefield State College’s proposal. He spoke on behalf of Wheeling University and West Liberty University as well.

These institutions seem to think the branch campus inside the former OVMC complex is a done deal, but the City of Wheeling says that’s not the case.

Mayor Glenn Elliott made a point to emphasize that the signed memorandum of understanding doesn’t commit the city to anything.

Bluefield State reached out to us, we did not reach out to them. 

Bob Herron, Wheeling City Manager

The City of Wheeling said it supports the higher education institutions the area already has, but West Virginia Northern, West Liberty and Wheeling University don’t see it that way. 

Our Wheeling city tax dollars will be used to subsidize the poaching of Northern, West Liberty and Wheeling University students costing local college enrollments, revenue, and possibly local jobs.

Dr. Daniel Mosser, President, West Virginia Northern Community College

They feel they weren’t consulted about this decision, until it was too late. Mosser added he knew nothing about the possibility of Bluefield State coming to Wheeling until he read about it in the paper. 

No one contacted our colleges or anyone else to fact check in order to determine if local state supported colleges already offer manufacturing engineering science degree programs or if this scheme is feasible or if this is a wise use of taxpayer dollars.

Dr. Daniel Mosser, President, West Virginia Northern Community College

Since then Mosser said the schools tried to work with the city, but feels like there’s no progress. 

We’re tired of the game. We want the truth. We want the citizens of Wheeling to have the truth. We want the council to have the truth before they take a vote. So, we’re here to put some facts on the table. The devil’s in the details, and the devil’s not talking.

Dr. Daniel Mosser, President, West Virginia Northern Community College

Wheeling officials said this agreement isn’t as set in stone as these colleges think. They haven’t been presented with any official proposal about a lease or costs. The MOU only means that Bluefield State can continue to research and make plans. 

We’ve been working with four different entities at the Ohio Valley Medical Center and all of which have non binding either letters of intent or memorandum of understanding. Bluefield State had one of those. They’re doing their due diligence. We have not been presented with any costs or proposals from anybody yet, including Bluefield State.

Bob Herron, Wheeling City Manager

Any lease agreement or proposal would then have to come before council for a vote. 

We remain very willing to work with them in respect to projects they have either collaborated with the Bluefield State project at OVMC or other collaborations. If they have their own proposal for any portion of the OVMC campus we would certainly entertain that proposal.

Mayor Glenn Elliott, City of Wheeling

Mayor Elliott added the ultimate decision isn’t even up to City Council. It’s up to the Higher Education Policy Commission, which decides if colleges can and should compete in certain markets. 

Stay with 7News for updates.

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