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Shepherd move gets mixed OK

October 03, 2000

Shepherd move gets mixed OK



By BOB PARTLOW / Staff Writer, Martinsburg


WHEELING, W.Va. - Shepherd College received permission from a state board Tuesday to move its community and technical college to Martinsburg, W.Va., but with $150,000 less than the college had requested, leaving college officials wondering what to do next.

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"The good news is we have permission to move forward, but, and this is not literally true, with only half a loaf," said Shepherd College President David Dunlop. "It does leave us in a little bit of a quandary. We'll need to mull it over and decide what to do."

The Higher Education Policy Commission told college officials they could move to the abandoned Blue Ridge Outlet Center downtown. And commissioners gave the college permission to request money from the Legislature and governor the first year. After that, they can't ask for more, said Dunlop.

In the resolution approving the move, the commission urged the college to find other sources of money, such as increased tuition and private donations. The college hoped to use $450,000 from the governor and the Legislative Budget Digest the first two years of the five-year phase-in to transfer operations. The commission said they could ask for $300,000. The five-year cost is about $3.1 million.

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"You might think that you could find $150,000 out of $3 million, but the legislative money was to come in the second year, which is only six months away. If it had come in year four or five, it wouldn't have been so critical."

Dunlop did not say the project is in jeopardy.

"We've gotten thumbs up on this from everybody," he said. "What may be in jeopardy is the scope of the project."

But he noted if they take less space at the outlet center, it might mean the college doesn't have enough room for enough students to make the project financially feasible.

"It can become counter-productive" he said. The college may ask businesses who want to upgrade their employees' skills by having them take noncredit classes to pay for those, he said.

"We may talk to some business leaders to see if they are still behind the project knowing we will want to be doing business with them real soon," he said.

But even that is unlikely to make up the money needed, especially in such a short period of time, he said.

Dunlop said the commission apparently believed Shepherd might be getting too big of a slice of the higher education pie by going to the Legislature for the amount requested. The commission and the Legislature also may have a disagreement over who will decide which colleges get how much money, he said.

"The problem, when you live in a state without a lot of money, is it's difficult to identify all the money" for all those who want it, he said.

He said the college has to carefully weigh the financial considerations in deciding what to do next.

"Any time you go into a project with a $150,000 deficit in year two, your risk is certainly greater," he said.

College administrators will discuss among themselves what to do, then ask the college board of advisers what options they see.

"I guess what we do depends on what kind of answers we get," Dunlop said.

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