CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mountain State University is planning to sell the 555,000-square-foot mall it owns in Martinsburg and to get rid of buildings at its Beckley campus to stay financially afloat in the upcoming months, the school's president said at a court hearing on Tuesday.
"The board of trustees has approved the general concept of downsizing MSU's physical plant and using the assets to sustain core activities," said Richard Sours, interim president at MSU. "We haven't put any buildings up for sale yet, but that's a legitimate possibility. If necessary, we will sell assets as long as they don't impact the university's core mission."
Sours spoke at an emergency injunction hearing on Tuesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court. Lawyers representing 12 Mountain State University nursing students who are suing the Beckley-based school for breach of contract asked Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman to immediately ban MSU from liquidating its assets and selling its property.
The plaintiffs argued that if MSU begins selling off its property, by the time its case goes to trial in February, MSU wouldn't have any money left to dole out to students suing the school.
The judge ultimately struck down that argument and said MSU could continue to sell its assets.
MSU is in dire financial straits following the loss of its accreditation earlier this month. The Higher Learning Commission withdrew MSU's general accreditation in early July for systemic breakdowns in leadership, program oversight, integrity issues and failing to provide accreditation information to students.
MSU has said it plans to appeal the HLC's decision on the grounds that the ruling was "arbitrary, capricious and not based on substantial evidence."
In the meantime, however, MSU is facing a tough financial situation and is in the early stages of liquidating some of its assets.
Among those is the Martinsburg Mall, a building MSU owns in Berkeley County.