The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 8, 2012

‘Paint the town blue’

MSU seeks community support

By Sarah Plummer
Register-Herald Reporter

— Mountain State University hopes members of the business community, public officials and citizens will show their support for the school by painting the town blue as the university prepares for an upcoming accreditation visit, said Andrew Wessels, public relations officer.

Students, faculty and staff will be handing out “I support MSU” buttons and yard signs to individuals and businesses this week.

“We’d like to cover the town with MSU blue and have all of Beckley proudly display their support for Mountain State University,” said Susan Backofen, vice president for Marketing and Business Development. “We want to include everyone in this effort to cover Beckley in Cougar pride!”

Chris Hall, president of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, noted “As an essential part of that educational network, Mountain State University creates jobs and helps provide local businesses with a trained and educated workforce. It is vital for our community to show the accreditation officials that we support Mountain State because of its importance to education, jobs and business in Beckley and Raleigh County.”

Accreditation officials from the regional High Learning Commission, the body that oversees the school’s general accreditation, will visit Mountain State’s campus Feb. 13-15 in connection with the organization’s “show cause” order used in July 2011.

Dr. Jerry Ice, acting president of Mountain State commented, “We’re on the right track and I think we can all be very proud of this institution. There is a dramatic difference between where we were, and where we are now. We have a five-year strategic plan in place that gives us a process for continuous quality improvement, and I think the HLC team will be able to leave here next week with confidence that the changes we have put in place will be sustained.”

After their visit, explained Wessels, the review team will generate a report. Mountain State will then have the opportunity to review and correct errors of fact if needed. The HLC board will then conduct a hearing in Chicago in June to make a decision regarding the university’s accreditation status.

MSU has an estimated annual impact of $141.5 million in Beckley and surrounding areas and it serves more than 8,200 students, said Wessels.

“On behalf of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce, I encourage businesses to show their support for Mountain State University,” said Ellen Taylor, president and CEO of Beckley-Raleigh Chamber of Commerce. “As a leading employer, the economic impact of MSU is far reaching and the university is vitally important to the region.”

And its 80-year history, beginning with the founding of Beckley College, is expected to continue to grow and be an educational, economic and cultural hub, Wessels said.

Yard signs and buttons are available at the Chamber of Commerce and businesses or groups can arrange to have them delivered during the week by e-mailing Susan Backofen at sbackofen@mountain state.edu.