The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

March 30, 2013

Bridgemont president: Merger is ‘smart thing to do’

MONTGOMERY — Bridgemont’s president says a merger with Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College is “the smart thing to do” and strengthens, rather than threatens, the position of the Montgomery campus into the future.

A bill that would combine the two schools into a single multi-campus institution at the beginning of the coming fiscal year was passed through the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday with no discussion, and is now on its way to the Senate floor.

Delegate David Perry, D-Fayette, says the general consensus of Fayette County’s congressional delegation is that, conceptually, the multi-campus model appears acceptable.

“We look at it as an expansion,” he says. “But what we’ve got to do as a delegation is ensure the administrative offices and main campus, so-called, would remain in Montgomery.”

Based on this year’s enrollment numbers, the new institution would serve 2,651 students total, with a combined full-time enrollment of 1,688.

According to Perry, the delegates want to do everything they can within the bill to ensure that the Montgomery campus would remain open and not move to the Dow Center in South Charleston, located 33 miles away.

Jo Harris, president of Bridgemont, says that $4 million was invested in the campus last year for the renovation of Davis Hall, and that there’s no intent of leaving Montgomery.

Harris says that the proposed merger poses a number of opportunities, which boil down to the following:

— Provide more program and course offerings to students at both campuses

— Reap efficiencies by bringing two small colleges that serve overlapping counties under one administrative umbrella

— Cut down on the confusion of two separate workforce development divisions working with regional industries

— Provide a single point of contact to cut down on confusion of area high school students transitioning into community college

— Improve financial viability in the face of budget cuts

— Provide more opportunities for innovation at a larger institution

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