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Ohio Valley University students face uncertainty after being told of school’s closure

VIENNA, W.Va. — Students at Ohio Valley University in Vienna are scrambling trying to determine their next steps following a life-altering decision that’s been made by the university.

OVU, a Christian university that’s been offering classes for 63 years, will close Friday. The school’s board has decided not to offer second semester classes.

OVU President Michael Ross

OVU President Michael Ross sent a letter to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Tuesday.

“We find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial situation and know that we have work to do to complete the current semester,” Ross wrote in the brief letter. “We do not make this decision lightly and realize the work ahead to meet the needs of our students is priority.”

Fifth-year senior Jamison Hunt of Ripley and other OVU students were told of the decision by Ross in a Tuesday meeting. Hunt tells MetroNews the meeting was very emotional.

“I know there were some pretty upset people in the meeting. There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Hunt said.

Ross told the students, faculty and staff that the school has basically run out of money.

Hunt, who has been at OVU for two years, knew there were financial struggles.

“OVU staff, teachers and coaches have struggled to get paid,” Hunt said. “That was a main concern that I had for our coaches. They’ve put in a lot of time and haven’t been getting paychecks.”

MORE read Ross letter to HEPC here

Hunt said Ross also told students OVU is hoping to work with other schools to get credits transferred. Hunt said there are also questions about student visas. He said OVU has students representing about two dozen different countries.

Hunt plays basketball and because of Tuesday’s announcement, OVU played its final game of the season Tuesday night. It lost to Salem 116-53.

“I don’t think a lot of players’ minds were in the right place. It was a pretty emotional night knowing that for me and a few other guys on the team it’s the last time we’re ever going to play,” Hunt said.

The HEPC will take up Ross’ letter at its meeting Friday. The commission was set to decide whether OVU would be allowed to confer degrees.

Hunt, who is set to graduate this semester, said he doesn’t blame Ross or the school’s board for the financial woes.

“I think people fail to realize the president and trustees tried to keep it open but at the end of the day there’s not a lot they can do,” Hunt said. “When Ross came the school was already struggling.”

Ross made no indication that OVU would one day reopen. Hunt said that would be a shame.

“It’s a really loving place. The professors, staff, even the president, some may not think it, I know he cares for us. You can tell he was really emotional about having to shut down,” Hunt said.

Friday’s HEPC meeting is set to start at 10 a.m. at the West Virginia Regional Technology Park in South Charleston.

OVU has about 170 students.

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