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HEPC revokes Ohio Valley University’s ability to confer degrees

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Higher Education Policy Commission followed through on plans Friday to revoke the ability of Vienna-based Ohio Valley University to confer degrees.

The HEPC’s unanimous revocation vote was somewhat anticlimactic after OVU officials told students, faculty and staff earlier this week the school would not be offering classes in the spring semester.

Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker

“Our foremost priority right now is to help these students, however we can, as they approach the end of this semester,” state Higher Education Chancellor Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker said. “Staff at OVU have been incredibly dedicated to students throughout this process, and we are continuing to work closely with them to offer our support.”

OVU President Michael Ross told the HEPC Friday a teach out plan for the 30 seniors and graduate students was currently under review from the Higher Learning Commission. The plan will provide a path for those students to earn the final OVU degrees next spring. The HEPC’s resolution terminates OVU’s ability to confer degrees on June 30, 2022.

Ross’ comments Friday seem to indicate any chance for OVU to financially recover and seek status as a degree-conferring university in the future were slim at best.

“As an alum it seems like a time in my life is ending and I don’t like those endings,” Ross said.

The HEPC has been working with OVU for months after The Higher Learning Commission placed the school on probation for a number of issues including its financial and record-keeping problems.

Ross did provide several updates during his Friday remarks.

He said a transfer fair was taking place on the Vienna campus Friday. He said representatives from 25 schools were there, including some schools that are proposed to be part of the teach out plan.

OVU President Michael Ross

Ross also said student transcripts and other records could be available as early as Friday afternoon. He said the school had recently received help with its server situation.

“Our students will have what they need, the ones who are transferring, as well as alumni, those who have asked and made those types of requests from us,” Ross said.

He also the school’s faculty and staff, who haven’t received regular pay, will be made whole.

“We have identified and worked with and a donor has pledged and is in process right now of providing the necessary funds to correct our payroll deficiencies,” Ross said.

Ohio Valley University, a private Christian school, has been around for 63 years. It has about 170 students. Ross said the school was in trouble financially when it came in January 2019. He said they did everything they could to keep it open.

“We worked as hard as we could do. We uncovered every single stone, going as far as having one of our sister universities acquire us and that unfortunately did not work,” Ross told the HEPC.

He said OVU may be gone but not forgotten.

“Even though the doors may be closing, the legacy that it leaves in the lives of people, in the community that it has served for so long, will be something that will be a lasting effect in the state of West Virginia and in higher education in our great state.”

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