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University of Charleston's Martinsburg Center opens

January 09, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • The Martinsburg, W.Va. campus of the University of Charleston (W.Va.) held an open house Wednesday. Cutting the ribbon at the event are, from left, Tina Combs, president of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Chamber of Commerce; Jerry Forster, regional president of the University of Charleston; George Karos, mayor of Martinsburg; and Edwin C. Welch, president of the University of Charleston.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — In an “unprecedented” move for higher education, classes for the now-defunct Mountain State University in Martinsburg will resume next week in the same building where Mountain State held its classes, university President Edwin C. Welch said Monday.

The West Virginia Higher Learning Commission pulled Mountain State University’s accreditation in June, forcing it to close its doors.

The Higher Learning Commission approved the University of Charleston’s request to take over Mountain State’s campus in Martinsburg and its main campus in Beckley, W.Va.

The first to enroll when the spring semester opens Monday will be former Mountain State seniors who lacked enough credits to graduate in December, Welch said.

Welch was in Martinsburg on Wednesday for a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially opening the Martinsburg campus at 214 Viking Way. 

In the Martinsburg building, site of a former outlet mall, the university will use seven of the building’s 10 storefronts for classroom and administrative space and rent the other three, Executive Director David Shahan said.

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Shahan held the same responsibilities for Mountain State in Martinsburg. He returned to his old office this week, which still was decorated with the same personal items that filled the walls and shelves before Mountain State closed.

Shahan reports to Jerry Forster, who as regional president has the overall responsibility for the Martinsburg and Beckley campuses.

Welch said he had been in contact for months with Mountain State officials when it became evident that the school would not survive its loss of accreditation.

The University of Charleston is a private college with an enrollment of about 1,300 students at its main campus. It was founded in 1888.

University officials predict that about 600 students will enroll for the spring semester, bringing the overall enrollment on all three campuses to about 2,000. The university has about 65 former Mountain State faculty and staff members in Beckley, a four-year college, and three in Martinsburg, Welch said. The number of employees in Martinsburg will increase as enrollment increases, Shahan said.

In Martinsburg, Charleston will offer bachelor’s degrees in accounting, biology, business administration, organizational leadership, political science and psychology, and master’s degrees in business and physician’s assistant’s studies, according to school officials. It has a doctoral program in pharmacy.

While considered a liberal arts college, the University of Charleston specializes in preparing students to work toward eventual professional degrees, said Scott Castleman, director of communications. It offers pre-med and pre-law programs as well as programs that can lead students directly into careers and occupations, he said.

An open house followed the ribbon-cutting to introduce the Martinsburg branch to prospective students and members of the community.

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