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Shepherd's university status up in the air

March 10, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Despite approval by the West Virginia Senate, a proposal in the Legislature that would allow Shepherd College to change its name to Shepherd University remains "up in the air," a local senator said Tuesday.

Now that the Senate has approved the bill, it has gone to a Senate and House conference committee for approval, said Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson.

Snyder said he believes the bill's chances of approval in the conference committee are uncertain because some lawmakers are reluctant to allow state colleges to switch to universities.

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If the conference committee passes the bill, it will have to go before the full House and Senate again for approval, Snyder said.

The legislative session ends Saturday at midnight, meaning the issue would have to be taken up by then, Snyder said.

The trend in higher education is that schools refer to themselves as colleges are the ones that offer two year-degrees, Shepherd College President David L. Dunlop has said.

That is a concern to Shepherd officials because they do not want prospective students to bypass Shepherd, thinking it is a two-year school, Dunlop said.

Shepherd College is a four-year school that has been increasing its graduate study programs. This fall, it began offering a master's degree in curriculum and instruction through its education department.

"We really need to get the people of the Eastern Panhandle behind this," Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, said Tuesday regarding the Senate bill.

"The Senate's position on this issue is very clear," Unger said in a news release. "And it is my hope that the senators who are assigned to iron out the differences will stand strong on this position."

The bill in the Legislature also would allow the Community and Technical College of Shepherd to become an independent school, Dunlop said Tuesday.

Allowing the Martinsburg community college to become independent would allow the school to govern itself and thereby have more control over its future, Dunlop said.

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