BLUEFIELD, W.Va. — The interim tag has been shed from Robin Capehart’s title as President of Bluefield State College and he is ready to keep on working.
He said he knew of the issues Bluefield State College (BSC) had been having financially and with enrollment coming in, but the opportunities there attracted him to the position.
“Based upon the curriculum, the quality of their facility and the support it had among alumni and community,” he said.
“I just felt like this would be a really good opportunity that if I could have the chance to be a part of it, I would really look forward to that.”
Capehart, who had been the President of West Liberty University (WLU) from 2007 to 2015, beat out Patricia Ramsey for the position in a decision made by the college’s Board of Governors. Ramsey is the provost and vice president of academic affairs for Lincoln University in Pennsylvania.
BSC is an HBCU, historically black college and university, which is celebrating its 125th year of higher education learning this current academic calendar. The first students in Bluefield and many HBCU’s were a generation removed from slavery and took a lot of trade courses, which evolved into engineering programs.
Capehart said around 40-percent of BSC students are in engineering programs and a total of 80 percent are in engineering, business or health sciences.
He said on ‘Talkline’ that he hopes to continue the institution’s model of getting students career-ready with the right job training.
“Last year the statistic was 94 percent of our students who walked across the state last May 11 had a job already waiting for them,” Capehart said. “That’s our niche, that’s what our students are looking for.”
One help that Capehart said could propel BSC and other small college and universities in the state is more flexibility when it comes to program approval. Capehart said sometimes it may take more than two and a half years to get a program approved.
He said on ‘Talkline’ that BSC has been denied by the Higher Education Policy Commission to start a Surgical Tech program that local hospitals asked for, because it would only serve as a two-year program.
Capehart believes part of the problem in West Virginia is a highly centralized system of higher education that has inhibited a lot of small colleges from being able to compete in a highly competitive marketplace.
“You have to get them out there as quickly as possible,” he said of programs. “Yes, there is an issue to make sure you have quality but there are accreditation associations all over the country to make sure that your programs have quality. To go through an extra layer of bureaucracy to have that program approval makes no sense.”
“All we are asking for is the flexibility to allow us to compete and let the market decide.”
During Capehart’s time as interim president which began in January, he has secured funding and commitments of support to permit the start of construction for the first on-campus housing at BSC in more than 50 years.
He replaced Marsha Krotseng who had stepped down as president in December amid criticism over recruiting efforts.
A BSC release said that during Capehart’s time at WLU in Ohio County, the school experienced growth in enrollment over 15.5 percent including a 26.5 percent increase in adult learners. Annual fundraising totals increased at WLU during his tenure from $862,000 in 2007 to over $5 million per year for 2013-2015, according to BSC.
He resigned from the university amid allegations of ethics violations.
— MetroNews (@WVMetroNews) September 12, 2019