Dr. Constantine Curris served as chair of the Tech Revitalization Team. He highlights the differences between the two reports:
"I am not surprised that the focus is on the Sightlines report. The folks in Morgantown 'own' it and they questioned our priorities. Our focus was on what improvements were needed to insure that a revitalization plan would succeed. Sightlines is not so focused. Sightlines called for a $70 million -- as I recall -- in physical plan improvements, about double what we recommended."
Aside from vastly different costs projected over five years (WVU Sightlines, $70M; Curris Report, $30M), the two reports differ in how they expect the revitalization to progress and to be financed. WVU Sightlines must assume that the revitalization will be funded directly by legislative appropriation or indirectly through WVU. The Curris Report is based upon the assumption that upgrades on the campus will be partially funded by increased income from enrollment increases.
The Curris Report recommends two changes that will help Tech attain enough students (1,800 full-time) to become self-supporting:
* That ALL programs at Tech establish required co-op or internship programs ... this recommendation should command highest priority.
* That, using its resources in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), Tech develop a program for education of students in these general disciplines ... to teach these subjects in schools of West Virginia and beyond.
The Curris Report notes that many academic programs suffer from outdated facilities and some safety issues exist in laboratories but indicates that Tech academic programs are solid and -- if revitalized as recommended -- will serve as the basis for revitalizing Tech.
The decision-making bodies for the Tech campus, headed by President Clements, should exert every effort to ensure the revitalization is handled in compliance with SB 486.
Fancy buildings (or minimally refurbished buildings WVU Sightlines proposes at $70 million) will not necessarily bring students to campus. But students will come for courses of study that provide real-world experiences that connect them to jobs and people who control those jobs. And those students will stay and revitalize Tech.
The STEM program and Cooperative Education/ Internships for all degree-granting programs should be initiated as soon as possible, and implemented fully. These programs are relatively low-cost, and would revitalize Tech academically and enable the campus to support itself and fulfill its mission of service to the citizens of West Virginia-at much less cost than projected by WVU Sightlines.
Phillips, of Charlton Heights, is a member of the Tech Revitalization Committee.