The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


August 21, 2012

Build it up

Without quoting directly from a famous nursery rhyme, what the University of Charleston has committed to do in uptown Beckley and Martinsburg is to try to put back the pieces from a great fall — the difference being this story has no fictitious characters and the potential for success is great.

Just six weeks ago the Higher Learning Commission announced that Mountain State University’s general accreditation was being revoked. The decision rocked thousands in Beckley and Martinsburg, home to MSU’s main campus and largest satellite campus.

In the aftermath, the uncertainty about the future for students, faculty and staff created a huge concern across southern West Virginia and the Eastern Panhandle.

And while many swooped in to try to capitalize on the situation, some like U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, state Sen. Mike Green and MSU trustee Elmer Coppoolse, among others, boldly stepped forward.

While other elected state and federal leaders representing us tucked tail and ran as far as they could from the situation, a core group led by the three mentioned above began working diligently to piece together a plan to try to keep the option of a private four-year college available for both West Virginia towns.

The results of that work came together earlier this month when UC President Dr. Edwin Welch and members of his administrative team came to Beckley and delivered the word that the Kanawha County-based institution of higher learning would be partnering with MSU on teach-out plans for students in multiple programs and that it intends to open shop here full time in January 2013.

Suddenly, despair changed to hope.

Now UC is deep into its efforts to make things happen.

Of course the fallout will make what Welch and UC are trying to do much more difficult, but they are committed to giving it a go.

Welch met with The Register-Herald last week and said UC will “do everything” it can “to build it up” again in uptown Beckley and Martinsburg. That’s all anyone could expect, given the circumstances.

It will be up to our citizens and students to embrace this highly successful institution of higher learning and support it in every way we possibly can, especially by enrolling for classes and pursuing a degree.

Another torch for our future has been lit.

UC-Beckley, it’s a new day for higher education in southern West Virginia.

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