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Community college plans name change

July 10, 2005|by CANDICE BOSLEY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

Items bearing the name or logo of The Community and Technical College of Shepherd might someday appear on eBay - right up there with the peace medallions and glass milk bottles in the Collectible/Vintage category.

The college, which was required by state law to become independent of Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., plans to change its name.

The new name will not include the word "Shepherd."

A study is under way to choose a new name and design a new logo for the college. Students, community groups and the school's staff will be involved in the process, said Peter Checkovich, president of the college.

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Although independent from the university, the college still buys about $1 million in services from Shepherd University, including services from the registrar's office, financial aid, security, business matters, student affairs and use of the library.

Some services are expected to one day be performed at the college.

Shepherd University and The Community and Technical College of Shepherd once were connected and, until a few years ago, both were housed on the university's main campus in Shepherdstown.

Now, the college's classrooms and staff offices are in Martinsburg.

The directive that the college become independent from the university came as the Legislature underwent a lengthy process of analyzing the state's community college system, Checkovich said.

He said legislators were dissatisfied with the level of services offered by the state's handful of community colleges, especially when compared to superior community colleges in surrounding states, Checkovich said.

Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky and other states in the region have well-defined community college systems and strong economies, which Checkovich said likely is no coincidence.

Obtaining independence from Shepherd University has its advantages, Checkovich said.

"There are students who attend here who would probably never set foot on a college campus," he said.

New high school graduates who are not ready emotionally or academically to attend a university away from home can take courses at the college, as can adults who are unable to travel far from home because of work or family obligations.

The average age of students at CTC of Shepherd is probably in the early to mid-30s, Checkovich said.

Although some might say the college could lose some of its prestige by no longer being affiliated with the university, Del. John Doyle, D-Jefferson, said he believes both will be better off.

Doyle, of Shepherdstown, five years ago co-chaired a study that examined West Virginia's community college system. At that time, nearly all of the state's community colleges were components of four-year institutions.

"One of our findings was that this system of component community colleges had not worked," he said.

People attracted to the idea of a community college were turned off by the idea going to a four-year institution. Some left without registering for classes after walking past the football stadium, dormitories and other mainstays of universities, Doyle said.

Also, tuition was not cheaper and many people simply did not realize places such as Shepherd University had a community college.

A goal was to revamp the community college system to make it more robust, visible and accessible.

"I actually think that in the long run, the Eastern Panhandle is going to be better off," Doyle said.

The community college will be better able to attract students, and the university's image as a prestigious school will not be affected by an affiliation with a community college, which Doyle said was happening.

Relieved of its community college duties, a four-year institution such as Shepherd University now can focus on bachelor degree and graduate degree programs.

"I think in the long run, Shepherd (University) will become even more prestigious," Doyle said.

A drawback is that the separation is more expensive.

West Virginia is one of the few states in which all funding for community colleges comes from the state level.

"So now, the challenge is on us to come up with the money," said Doyle, who is the chairman of the Higher Education subcommittee of the finance committee, and a member of the Legislative Oversight Committee on Education Accountability.

It's not clear when Shepherd's community college was created, but Checkovich said the first associate's degree program, in nursing, was offered in 1974.

The community college was more fully developed in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he said.

The college now offers degrees in 17 programs, including business, criminal justice, culinary arts, emergency medical service, fire science, information technology, nursing and paralegal studies.

Checkovich said he hopes a new name is chosen by the end of October so the state Legislature can approve it.

No official list of new name possibilities exists, but Doyle said he has heard several discussed, including Martinsburg Community College, Eastern Panhandle Community College, Blue Ridge Community College and - the one Doyle favors - Shenandoah Valley Community College.

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