The West Virginia University Institute of Technology has been given the legislative go ahead to move its campus out of Montgomery to Beckley and the former campus of Mountain State University. Senators approved a bill Monday allowing for the relocation.
Senators voted 22 to 12 to allow WVU Tech to move from Montgomery in Fayette County where it’s been located for 120 years.
The move comes as a result of a vote from West Virginia University Board of Governor’s back in August. The board says the infrastructure on the Montgomery campus is in disrepair and the school is struggling financially to stay open after continuous losses of enrollment.
Senator Greg Boso from Nicholas County is a Tech graduate who supported the move.
“It hurts me to know what my Legislature has done to my college, to my West Virginia Tech, especially over the last several years," said Boso.
"We have not increased any funding to West Virginia Tech. [Study} work done in 2007 and some additional work in 2011 said you’ve got to put some money in us to allow us to survive, to allow us--more importantly rather than surviving--to thrive. We didn’t do it…but I do believe we need to preserve the institution of West Virginia University Institute of Technology," he continued.
Senator Jeff Mullins, who lives in Beckley and represents the district that will soon house the university, also spoke in favor of the bill. Mullins said the move will allow Tech to collaborate with other higher education institutions in the area, like New River Community College, Concord University and Bluefield state.
But Senator Bill Laird issued a word of warning to those institutions. Laird said the move to Beckley will increase competition for students and tuition dollars.
In addition, Laird said moving the campus will economically devastate the community of Montgomery which is made up of just 1700 residents.
Senator Ron Miller joined Laird in speaking against the legislation.
“This is a bill that should make all of us very sad for the history of a fine school. It’s a bill that should make all of us very sad for the history of a town. It should make all of us very sad for a region of the state,” said Miller.
“The outcome of this legislation--if it passes-- is in some ways the story that’s taking place in all of southern West Virginia. By passing this bill we are saying we’ve forgotten the roles played by regions, particularly in the southern [part of the state], to create what was once a great economic engine of West Virginia. Passage of this bill is passage saying that the contributions of those folks of yesterday mean nothing to us today,” he added.
After a change in the Senate, the bill heads back to the House of Delegates.