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Mountain State University buys Tanger Centre

May 21, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Mountain State University officials finalized their purchase of the Tanger Centre in Martinsburg Tuesday, allowing the school to expand its programs that are geared toward working adults.

Bachelor's degree programs are expected to be offered soon in accounting, legal studies and culinary arts/hospitality and plans are under way to expand graduate program offerings, said Robert Lowry, assistant vice president for extended learning at Mountain State.

Mountain State already operates out of three former shops at the Tanger Centre, which once was full of outlet stores.

Lowry declined to say how much Mountain State paid for the building, referring the question to the university's Senior Vice President and Provost James Silosky.

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Neither Silosky nor Stanley Tanger, owner of the center, returned messages seeking comment.

Businesses at the complex - including a Reebok store, a martial arts center, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce office and a Kobe Japanese Steak and Seafood House that is scheduled to open soon - will remain in place, Lowry said. The retail sector of the complex complements the university, he said.

Mountain State first started offering courses in Martinsburg more than two years ago. Since then, university officials from the school's main campus in Beckley, W.Va., made several trips to Berkeley County to look at possible expansion sites, Lowry said.

One attractive feature of the Tanger Centre was its easy access off Interstate 81, he said. The center is directly off exit 13.

"We were just literally geographically centralized," Lowry said.

Location was important given the fact that of the nearly 400 full-time students at Mountain State, around 15 percent come from Virginia or Maryland, Lowry said. Tuition is the same for in-state and out-of-state students.

Another 40 to 50 part-time students round out the university's enrollment.

With the Tanger Centre, university officials acquired around 50,000 square feet of space and 225 parking spaces. Because the brick building is divided into separate, former stores, Lowry said archways were built inside to connect offices and the seven classrooms already in place.

Expanding educational opportunities has many benefits, Lowry said.

"Education is healthy not only from a cultural standpoint, but from an economic standpoint," he said.

It's proven that the more education a person has, the more money he or she will earn. That, in turn, leads to more money being pumped into the economy, Lowry said.

Around 70 percent of the students at the university are referrals, Lowry said. "It's thrilling how well-received we've been here," he said. "We're very elated."

Students at Mountain State can enroll in several programs.

They can obtain a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership, a bachelor's degree in computer networking, a master's degree in nursing or a master's degree in strategic leadership.

A program called Spectrum gives students the opportunity to earn either an associate's degree or one-third of a bachelor's degree by attending class one night a week. Students can focus on either business or health care, Lowry said.

Originally known as Beckley College, which was founded in 1933 in southern West Virginia, Mountain State changed to its current name in August 2001, according to the university's Web site.

This is the second time a former outlet center in Berkeley County has re-opened as a higher education campus. The Community and Technical College of Shepherd recently opened in the former Blue Ridge Outlet center off Raleigh and Stephen streets. Shepherd officials rent their space from Berkeley County.

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