BECKLEY, W.Va. — WVU Tech welcomed the community on campus Wednesday evening to show the opportunities their new campus will give to the Beckley area.
About 50 area residents came to Carter Hall Auditorium to meet WVU Tech President Carolyn Long. She spoke for about an hour about the upcoming first week of class, community partnerships, safety, academics and athletics.
“We want to be good neighbors,” President Long said after introducing herself. “With everyone in the community, but especially the people that are around the campus.”
The process to get to this point began shortly after Mountain State University vacated the campus in 2013. Since then, all buildings have been renovated and a new one was constructed to accommodate WVU Tech’s needs.
Despite the changes that have already occurred, Long said more development will need to be considered soon. The first project would be the construction of more residence halls. The three existing halls are already full with an extensive waiting list. Long indicated that students have found success with local housing options off campus.
The audience expressed great approval when Long said they will always be committed to community service. The entire WVU academic system hopes to complete one million service hours in West Virginia by 2022.
“We are very much into giving back to the community. On Tuesday, we have eleven sites, eight of which are in the town of Beckley, where our students will be doing service projects. We think it’s very important that we give back, and we teach our students that that’s part of an education.”
Long took time to reflect on her time spent on the old WVU Tech campus in Montgomery. She said moving everything from there to Beckley was much more difficult than she originally thought.
“This has been a monumental task…to move a campus from the day school was out, to the day school starts.”
The institution provides 40 academic programs including engineering, nursing, pre-med, business and management. The school hopes to expand options in the future. One proposal is to add a law school associated with WVU’s in Morgantown. Law students could complete three years in Beckley then transfer to Morgantown for their senior year.
One of the many assets Long believes the school will add to Beckley is a diverse student body. There are currently students enrolled from 30 U.S. states and 20 different countries. Almost every West Virginia county is also represented in the student body.
All campus buildings have been upgraded with state-of-the-art facilities. The engineering laboratory, the only newly constructed on campus, gives students hands-on learning opportunities.
Long also pointed out that the school has formed its own police force. The department is comprised of fully certified, uniformed police officers and not security guards. They will work alongside the Beckley Police Department 24/7 to ensure the safest environment possible for students and faculty.
While on the topic of safety, Long brought to everyone’s attention her concerns about traffic through the campus. Kanawha Street is a heavily traveled road in Beckley and cuts through the center of campus. For years the area has remained quiet with few pedestrians. This has led motorists to travel well above the 25 mile per hour posted speed limit. Now that the area is active again, students will be crossing the street often. Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold echoed Long’s thoughts on WJLS’s Radio Roundtable Thursday morning.
“Folks need to slow down,” the mayor said. “They need to recognize that pedestrians a lot of times may be a little distracted. These youngsters are excited getting to and from class, so we need to slow it down.”
Move in for freshmen will begin this Saturday. Upperclassmen will move in on Tuesday. Several athletic teams have been on campus for about a week including soccer, volleyball and cross country. Student leaders such as resident assistants have been training on campus as well.
Athletes will temporarily use various buildings throughout the community. Baseball games will be held at Linda K. Epling Stadium, home of the West Virginia Miners. Soccer games will take place at Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex. Swim team meets will be held at the Raleigh County YMCA. Since the school does not have a fitness center, all students will receive a membership to the Raleigh County YMCA as part of their tuition. The center is located within walking distance from campus.
As classes begin on the 16th, a special dedication ceremony will take place on campus. WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee will be on hand to help bury a time capsule to be opened again in 50 years. The event will also feature guest speakers. It will be held at 12:30 p.m. near Carter Hall and is open to the public.
For more information about WVU Tech, visit their website at wvutech.edu.