Tech-WVU, Fairmont State-CTC mergers approved
By JENNIFER BUNDY
The Associated Press
CHARLESTON -- A measure to make Fairmont State Community and Technical College a division of Fairmont State University passed late Saturday.
And a separate measure to make West Virginia University Institute of Technology a division of WVU also was approved during the last hours of the Legislature's 60-day session.
Tech has been a regional campus of WVU for 10 years. As a division, Tech would be a more integral part of the Morgantown school and could use WVU's bonding capacity to raise money for improvements. The change also would allow WVU and Tech to streamline administrative functions.
Making Fairmont's community college a division of the main campus would allow both schools to maximize existing resources to benefit students, Prezioso said. The new division would have a new name: Pierpont Community and Technical College.
The Fairmont bill (SB792) also would rename the Community and Technical College of Shepherd. It would become Blue Ridge Community and Technical College.
The Tech bill (HB4690) would establish a West Virginia Consortium for Undergraduate Research and Engineering, or West Virginia CURE. The 13-member group would be appointed by the governor to develop a strategic plan for engineering programs at Tech, WVU and Marshall University.
Bolts Willis, a spokesman for the Montgomery-area group Take Back Tech, has said while the group had wanted Tech to split from WVU, it now supports the House's proposal because it requires WVU to invest in Tech.
The Tech bill directs the WVU Board of Governors to work toward raising faculty salaries at Tech to the level of salaries at WVU and address Tech's capital needs.
While the bill does not specify how much money WVU or the Legislature would allocate for Tech, Senate Education Chairman Robert Plymale, D-Wayne, has pledged both would spend more.
It calls for Tech's engineering program to remain in Montgomery. Gov. Joe Manchin proposed in his State of the State address to move the program to a new technology park in South Charleston. He later backed down from that initiative.
The Tech advisory board would become a board of visitors and the chairman of that board would be a voting member of the WVU Board of Governors.
The bill would go into effect July 1, but the actual change would occur on July 1, 2007.