BECKLEY, W.Va. — After nearly two years of planning and construction, WVU Tech’s new Beckley campus is now open.

As classrooms were full of students, spectators gathered in front of Carter Hall to witness the dedication ceremony. WVU Tech President Carolyn Long opened the event noting it was a special moment.

“This isn’t a normal day,” Long said.  “This is a monumental day for all of us.”

WVU President Dr. Gordon Gee spoke before the crowd, complimenting the Beckley community.  He also shared his vision with WVU Tech as a community member.

“This campus will grow and develop,” Gee said.  “It will become the economic engine of southern West Virginia.”

Gee also stressed the importance of keeping students in West Virginia.  He joked about keeping young talent from leaving the state.

“We are building a wall around West Virginia…and we’re going to have Ohio pay for it!”

The event also included the dedication of a time capsule filled with pictures and notes from the school’s opening.  It will be buried for fifty years to be opened again at the 2068 spring commencement.  One of the biggest moments of the day came when Shawn Ball of L&S Toyota in Beckley gave the school a $50,000 donation for scholarships.  He cited his Boone County roots for giving him an appreciation of West Virginia’s success.

“This is a big opportunity.  I’m from the coalfields of southern West Virginia.  I didn’t want to leave here, so I stayed.  If this were here, I would have been here.  There’s no doubt in my mind, it’s a great school.”

Ball also gave a separate donation to United Way of Southern West Virginia on behalf of L&S Toyota.

One of the main points expressed by everyone who spoke was opportunity for the Beckley area and all of West Virginia.  President Gee said later in an interview with MetroNews affiliate WJLS this is one of his top priorities.

“Opportunities to be educated will provide opportunities for people to take and create jobs.  That’s what we want to do.”

WVU Tech provides nearly 40 academic programs including nursing, engineering and business.  It’s former campus was located in Montgomery, Fayette County.  It was founded in 1895 as the Montgomery Preparatory School.

This is the first time in the school’s history it has moved from Montgomery.