August 1, 2012
The University of Charleston is taking over Mountain State University’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg so students can complete their degrees following the school’s loss of accreditation.
Officials at the schools announced a memorandum of understanding Wednesday in a news release.
The University of Charleston will be cooperating with Mountain State University “as its primary partner in the teach-out of current MSU students,” the release stated. “The two colleges have agreed to negotiate a separate agreement under which UC could establish four-year private college centers in Beckley and Martinsburg by the end of the year.”
“The closing of Mountain State University is sad and tragic,” University of Charleston President Edwin Welch said, “for students, for faculty and staff, and for the Beckley and Martinsburg communities. UC is committed to filling the void that will be left and to maintaining a private higher education presence in southern West Virginia and in the eastern panhandle.”
Mountain State University’s accreditation was withdrawn by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) in June 2012, and later reinstated through Dec. 31, for the purpose of allowing MSU to implement a teach-out program for students who are eligible to graduate by the end of 2012.
The UC campus is approximately 60 miles from the main campus of MSU in Beckley. Both schools are private, independent colleges. The University of Charleston is fully accredited by the HLC.
In addition to being the primary partner in the teach-out program, UC will admit all MSU students in good standing who wish to complete their degree programs through its school. The University of Charleston will also teach classes at MSU’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg during the fall 2012 semester.
“This keeps a significant economic engine in Beckley,” said MSU Interim President Richard E. Sours, Ph.D. “We are thrilled at this opportunity. This assures that a four-year college presence will continue in Beckley under the UC banner.”
The University of Charleston will continue to use the Beckley campus for its programs when MSU’s accreditation expires on Dec. 31. The University of Charleston will evaluate MSU’s programs and personnel at all MSU locations during the fall semester.
Mountain State’s other campuses are in Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania. Other higher education institutions in the state, both private and public, also have offered to take MSU students who want to transfer.
U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) praised the schools for coming to an agreement.
“There is no finer testament to the emphasis on education, community, and public service than the efforts of these exemplary college presidents,” Manchin said. “With the interests of students, faculty, and the community of Beckley as their top priority, the passion to complete this deal before the fall semester has been amazing.”
The memorandum of understanding also called for UC to appoint people from the Beckley community to its board and to maintain that presence.
“I look forward to many years of educating our students and making the community of Beckley strong,” Manchin said.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.