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Shepherd University's Martinsburg Center is open for business

July 25, 2013|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com
  • Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley speaks at a ribbon cutting at the new Shepherd University Martinsburg Center. Looking on is James Klein, director of the center.
By Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley, now in her seventh year in the job, cut a ribbon on Thursday officially opening the university’s new $2.5 million Martinsburg Center.

About 100 peopled crowded into the lobby area for the ceremony, which marked Shipley’s seventh ribbon cutting for a new Shepherd facility.

The center, in Berkeley Commons at 261 Aikens Center off Edwin Miller Boulevard, occupies 16,434 square feet on the first two floors of the huge building. The university has a long-term lease for the space.

Inside are 14 classrooms, including 39-seat lecture halls, seminar rooms, offices and commons areas. The center has 268 seats.

Shepherd University is “poised to become the premier leader in adult or nontraditional education in the four-state area,” said James Klein, the center’s director.

As of Thursday, 100 students have enrolled, Klein said.

Center students pay the same tuition rates as those on Shepherd’s main campus.

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Both schools will open Aug. 26.

Shepherd put up the money to build, equip and staff the new center.

“It’s all on our dime,” Shipley told the audience.

The hope is that the state will eventually pick up some of the costs once the center proves, in Shipley’s words, “the importance of helping adults complete degrees in order to advance professionally and contribute to the thriving economy of this region. Shepherd looks forward to completing the educational landscape that Blue Ridge Community and Technical College inhabits so capably.”

The curriculum is geared to students who never finished college through its Regents Bachelor of Arts or Science programs or those needing advanced degrees through its masters programs.

The Master of Business Administration program offers degrees in accounting, health care, public management and sports management and Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction and special education.

A program called Strategic Business Alliance allows employees of participating businesses and agencies to take courses at reduced tuition rates.

Klein said surveys by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission show that more than 800 Eastern Panhandle students left college before graduating.

“There is no limit to the programs that could service the area with this new facility,” he said.

Center students will take a combination of in-class and online instruction. Faculty members who teach graduate and upper-level undergraduate courses are hired by department heads on the main campus.

“This is a project the state could support,” said Paul Hill, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, who attended the ceremony. “This will get more degreed people into the workforce. Adult learners are a growing population in the state.”

“Sometimes, life gets in the way of completing a degree,” Hill said. “Right now, West Virginia needs 20,000 college graduates just to keep pace.”

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