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Tech faculty endorses revitalization plan

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University Institute of Technology faculty members are endorsing a plan to turn around the Montgomery campus in hopes that it could help dramatically increase enrollment.

Full-time faculty members of the college met Thursday and voted to support a plan laid out by the WVU Tech Revitalization Committee that would renovate facilities and open more curricular options at the school, which has struggled in recent years.

"The Revitalization Committee has done a good job at prioritizing infrastructure needs at Tech in light of the reality of budget challenges facing the State of West Virginia," members of the WVU Tech Faculty Assembly said in a prepared statement. "As far as funding goes, we think any infusion of cash into WVU Tech at this point would best be put to use into our buildings, making this a more attractive campus for present and future students."

Changes include major renovations to deteriorating campus infrastructure, an alternative teaching certification degree to help the state's shortage of teachers and the addition of a sports minor that would be a good fit, considering the college's proximity to the New River Gorge.

The committee is asking for $7.8 million from the Legislature to help with the revitalization.

The team was created to respond to legislation passed last year that recommended the school create a plan of action to overcome problems such as plummeting enrollment numbers and a $5-million-budget deficit.

During the past five years, enrollment at Tech has decreased by 20 percent, according to the report.

"This is a sign that the faculty is pleased and happy with what we've done. We've worked really hard as a committee to try to come up with a plan from top to bottom and stabilize the campus, grow enrollment and make it a good education experience for current students and future students," said committee Chairman David Hendrickson.

The faculty's endorsement comes as a reaffirmation of confidence in the plan, after one member of the revitalization committee voiced concerns about the process last month.

Committee member Dorothy Phillips claimed that the plan was too focused on facilities and not enough on academics. She worried that WVU's influence had overshadowed the purpose of the bill.

"Academic excellence has always been our strength. As our student population grows in size, so will our ability to increase funds to further enhance our academic programs," WVU Tech's statement released Friday confirmed.

A formal plan will be released in early December, according to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

"We expect that through the support of the Revitalization Committee, the Higher Education Policy Commission, and West Virginia University, Tech will emerge stronger and more focused than the period of time leading up to Senate Bill 486, and continue to provide excellence in higher education for the state of West Virginia," the statement said.Reach Mackenzie Mays at Mackenzie.mays@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5100.


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