Officials tasked with turning around the West Virginia University Institute of Technology said that more than nine months into the effort, they're making great strides to involve the community in revitalizing the Montgomery campus.
"We have for the first time a very solid understanding about what Tech is about and what Tech can be," said David Hendrickson, chairman of the Tech Revitalization Committee. "I think for the most part, 99 percent of people are happy with the progress we've made. The community's buying into the fact that everyone's trying to do a little bit to push the campus forward and coming together and feeling happy with the progress."
At a community forum at the Montgomery campus on Thursday, one member of the Tech Revitalization Committee said the committee is ditching the recommendations of a state-commissioned improvement report in favor of a 2011 plan from WVU.
"Essentially, the Tech Revitalization Committee is being used to implement WVU's Sightlines Report rather than the legislatively mandated Tech Revitalization Plan," Dorothy Phillips, a member of the 11-person Tech Revitalization Committee said on Thursday.
Phillips said Friday that her main sticking point was that the Revitalization Committee is asking the Legislature for $7.8 million to improve campus infrastructure at Tech with no money devoted to academic improvements.
"I give the committee credit for all the other things they've done," said Phillips. "I just am concerned that they failed to mention academics."
For months, the Tech Revitalization Committee has discussed a way to turn around the beleaguered Montgomery institution, largely using the recommendations from a turnaround report commissioned by the Legislature.
The revitalization report, which has formed the blueprint for the Revitalization Committee, said dramatically increasing enrollment was WVU Tech's first priority and estimated that the school needed $5 million to $7 million a year for the next five years and $100 million down the road to stay afloat. The report laid out a series of big-picture fixes for the school, including facility upgrades and academic improvements.