OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. (WTRF) — Representatives from three Ohio Valley colleges issued a joint statement today addressed to Wheeling mayor Glenn F. Elliot, Jr. to express their opposition to the addition of Bluefield State College to the Ohio Valley education arena.
In February, officials from Bluefield State College, which has its main campus in Mercer County, visited Wheeling and toured the former OVMC building in anticipation of opening a branch campus there. School officials said last month that they plan to offer online classes this fall and start in-person classes in January 2022. They also said they would offer programs not offered by other local insitutions.
The following is the letter written by officials from the three Ohio Valley colleges located in West Virginia that are citing issues with Bluefield State College’s establishment in Wheeling.
“Attached is a joint statement from Wheeling University, West Liberty University and West Virginia Northern Community College, in response to the City of Wheeling’s memorandum of understanding with Bluefield State College. This letter was sent to the Honorable Mayor Glenn F. Elliott, Jr. and Wheeling City Council on February 19, 2021.
Below are quotes from university/college personnel/board members
Ginny Favede, president, Wheeling University:
“The decision to enter into this recent MOU by the City of Wheeling is disappointing, and in partnership with my colleagues at West Liberty and West Virginia Northern, I am opposed to this agreement allowing Bluefield State College to offer duplicate academic majors in our valley. This action by the City diminishes the quality, rigorous educational opportunities our institutions provide to the men and women of this region. Our academic institutions produce graduates who will meet the workforce needs of local and regional businesses. Wheeling University has been serving the city and Ohio Valley for the past 67 years, as Wheeling’s university. I would hope that the leaders of the city, during this time of vulnerability, would support our institution and forbear implementing actions that would harm our employees and students.”
“Wheeling University offers an Engineering Science major and minor, a program that provides students expert instruction from Professor Robert Yahn, a native of the Friendly City. Wheeling University’s Engineering program expands on the needs of skilled professionals offering a minor and a professional certificate in Construction Management and will soon offer a Bachelor of Science. The unique and value-added educational experience Wheeling University offers, calls for Experiential and Service Learning as a requisite, guiding our students to become successful, lifelong learners, highly prepared and principled career professionals, and active national and global leaders. This is a distinct impact we have on our community and the economic development of our city.”
Dr. W. Franklin Evans, president, West Liberty University:
“I stand in solidarity with the other leaders of our local colleges and universities in this matter. We are confident that our three institutions are equipped to provide the educational needs of this region with quality programs that meet the demands of our regional employers.”
“There is a process that must be followed to ensure that the expansion of programs by public institutions of higher learning in the state of West Virginia are needed and successful. This process is proper and is the only way to achieve approval of such expansion.”
David Artman, chair, West Virginia Northern Community College Board of Governors:
“Since Wheeling is already well served by three exceptional colleges and universities, not to mention those in surrounding counties, there is no need for Wheeling elected leaders to enter into an MOU/feasibility study with Bluefield State College. Our local colleges have been outstanding partners to the city, county and region and have served our students, communities, and employer partners well for many decades.”
Dr. Daniel Mosser, president, West Virginia Northern Community College:
“The City of Wheeling is fortunate to be served by three higher education intuitions; West Virginia Northern, West Liberty University, and Wheeling University, that work well together to offer local residents several options for high quality, affordable higher education. When there is a new need identified in our region for skilled professionals, Northern has adapted our education and training offerings to prepare our students for these new career fields, based on economic and workforce data confirming employer demand for such programs. WVNCC’s recent announcement(s) of new programs to prepare peer substance addiction counselors and support specialists is one example. Other examples include significant expansion of our career programs to support the oil & gas industry like Welding Technology, Petroleum Technology and Instrumentation.”
“Northern’s commitment over the years has included purchasing and refurbishing several abandoned buildings in Downtown Wheeling to create the Advanced Technology Center and Industrial Technology Center — each costing state tax payers more than $4 million. The City has experienced significant revitalization through Northern’s continued investments including two current parking lot and green space projects. New programs on the horizon, identified through Gap Analysis, include CDL Class A & B and EMT/Paramedic.”