The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

January 16, 2013

Beckley Rotary Club welcomes University of Charleston president

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

Beckley Rotary Club welcomed University of Charleston President Dr. Ed Welch at its Tuesday meeting to discuss the newly established campus branch here in Beckley.

Charlie Houck welcomed Welch and said UC-Beckley is going to mean a lot to the community.

“The Rotary will stand behind anything you do. We want to make your endeavors successful.”

Welch presented a slideshow, noting that UC is a quality university, a good community partner and an overall good investment.

He said students enjoy the personal attention they are able to receive at a small university and the setup of the curriculum.

At the University of Charleston, general education requirements are incorporated into the disciplinary courses, which are more focused and relevant to each student’s field of study.

“We’re big on internships and we’re serious about graduating prepared students.”

Welch said the university had three firsts this week, including the start of the physician assistant program with 30 students, the first week of classes at Beckley, Martinsburg, and online, and hiring a faculty member who will teach for Beckley, Charleston and four other colleges.

UC boasts having 40 student organizations that provided over 20,000 hours of community service last year. Welch said that 28 percent of students who graduate earn their degree in less than four years, and another 7 or 8 percent go on to graduate school.

An impressive 92 percent of graduates become employed or go onto grad school soon after graduation, Welch said.

UC-Beckley President Jerry Forster also joined the Rotary Club meeting and thanked everyone for the community support.

“University of Charleston has a strong blend of programs and should make for a very attractive regional university in Beckley.”

He said it will take a few years to “unwind” everything and build enrollment.

“We started with 500 students and the majority of those students are online. We want to double enrollment within the year.”

He asked for continued community support and encouraged input, especially as the university begins to grow.

Forster said he will revisit the Rotary Club Feb. 5 to provide a progress report about UC-Beckley.

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