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Mountain State U. sure of its future in Martinsburg

January 25, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Mountain State University on Wednesday celebrated the opening of its new Academic Support Center for the Martinsburg campus of the Beckley, W.Va.-based private school.

“Beckley loves Martinsburg,” V. Max Beard, vice chairman of the Mountain State’s board of trustees, said of the school’s expanded presence in the city.

The 10,000-square-foot center in Martinsburg Mall is designed to serve students in all types of learning, from traditional classroom settings to independent and online study.

“This is a stunning place to be and we see a very bright future here,” Beard said. “We know that we have to work to really earn our roots here in the community ... but as evidenced by the commitment that we’ve made here, i.e. (purchasing) this mall, we’re here and we’re committed to being here.”

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The new learning center, which is in a space formerly occupied by a Rex electronics store, houses MSU’s “hybrid” study program.

The center, which opened Jan. 9, the first day of class for the spring semester, is staffed with two full-time, facilitator-instructors, David Greek and Bruce Lautzenheiser, who assist students through self-paced, eight-week and 16-week courses.

Greek said his job is a “blast.”

“Most of these students are not your traditional students, they have children, they have jobs and it’s tough, sometimes they just need a little encouragement,” Greek said of his work with the students.

“I’m a face they can come to for help and I think that makes a huge difference.”

Business major Vika Shylenga of Ukraine, who is set to graduate in May, said the facilitators have helped her a lot.

“They’re really, really good,” Shylenga said while seated at a computer in the Blue Ridge room of the new center.

In remarks to those gathered for a grand opening reception, David Shahan, executive director of MSU’s Martinsburg campus, said more than 100 students are enrolled in courses through the hybrid program for the spring semester, which he said is “cutting edge” in higher education.

Shahan also recognized a number of officials, including Anthony Polk, the business manager for MSU’s Martinsburg campus, for his work on the project.

Polk’s father, Charles Polk was fired last week by the school’s board of trustees in the wake of accreditation issues, particularly involving MSU’s nursing program.

MSU spokesman Andrew Wessels said the nursing school’s dean, Sheila Garland, who attended Wednesday’s ceremony, has been keeping concerned students, including those enrolled at the Martinsburg campus, up to date with the accreditation issue as part of an outreach effort via video conferencing.

Garland is expected to present a new report to the state Board of Nursing on Feb. 12, Wessels said.

“We have committed to doing what it takes that’s within our power to right that,” Beard said when asked about the accreditation issue.

“We’re looking at it on an hourly basis ... we realize how imperative it is.”

Looking to the future, Beard said he envisions the school’s presence at the mall, which the school purchased in 2010, will continue to grow.

“The future will go out past Max Beard and the future I envision here one day this will be an entire complex devoted to Mountain State University,” Beard said.

“I envision a big commitment here.”

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