On Monday, January 16, more than 40 WVU Tech students, staff and faculty gathered on the Beckley campus. After a brief meeting, the group received their assignments and broke off into teams, heading out into the Beckley area to spend their day off giving back to the community.
The group tackled five community projects in the region in honor of the national Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service.
“The MLK Day service projects are opportunities for students to interact with the Beckley community, build civic responsibility and do something for others,” said Candice Stadler, director of WVU Tech’s department of Career Services and Cooperative Education.
“Since a major component of Dr. King’s work was to alleviate poverty, we were very intentional in setting up the projects with organizations that work to alleviate poverty in southern West Virginia,” she said.
The Women’s Resource Center in Beckley is a non-profit that provides shelter, counseling, advocacy and other services for those impacted by domestic and sexual violence in Raleigh, Fayette, Summers and Nicholas counties. WVU Tech volunteers spent their time helping staff clean, organize and perform general maintenance work at the center, which is the largest of its kind in the state.
“Any time you can get college students invested in the community and lending their time and talents to someone less fortunate is a good thing,” said Dee Sizemore, who serves as the WRC’s public relations and volunteer coordinator. “Community service opens up opportunities and eyes for people. Until you put yourself out there, you don’t realize what kind of difference you can make in the world.”
Volunteers also worked for the WRC at a local antique shop, Tickety Boo Mercantile. The business provides storage space for items donated to the WRC and will serve as a storefront for clients transitioning out of the shelter. Volunteers there helped to sort and inventory donated items and set up the new space.
“It’s an empowering thing. With this new setup, clients in need get to go into the space and have choices as they select items that will help them get reestablished.”
Hannah Gibson, a junior biology major from Frazier’s Bottom, West Virginia, helped out at the shop. She said it was eye-opening to think about how something so simple as dishes or home décor items are taken for granted in everyday life.
“I think it makes you a well-rounded person to be in this environment to see what it’s like for other people in the world. I want to go into social work, even though I’m studying biology. This kind of atmosphere make me want to use my skills to help people,” she said.
Another Beckley-area organization, One Voice, maintains a community closet that provides essential items like clothing and blankets to people in need. The group also runs a backpack program called Food for Angels that sends non-perishable food home with low-income elementary school children from three of the region’s schools. Volunteers from WVU Tech helped to organize donated items for the community closet, packed snack boxes for the Food for Angels program and provided help with general maintenance and organization.
A group of volunteers also met at the Pine Haven Center emergency shelter to provide general help with maintenance, painting, cleaning and organizing. The center offers shelter and support services to the region’s homeless population.
The WVU Tech women’s soccer traveled south of Beckley to Mullens, West Virginia to lend a hand at the Itmann Food Bank. The team helped to organize and inventory donations for the bank, which services the Wyoming County region.
Tyler Graves, a health services administration major from southern Maryland, was part of the group.
“We’re very privileged with what we have, and it’s a humbling experience to see what other people go through and at the same time realize what you can do to help,” she said. “It shows us that there’s always something we can do. I think it’s also important to show how we can make a positive impact on the community as a school.”
Stadler agreed that the sense of community is an important part of the university’s transition to the Beckley area.
“It is important for WVU Tech to be involved in the greater Beckley community. This is our community. We contribute to its overall health and wellbeing, so what better way to begin being a part of Beckley than through service,” said Stadler.
WVU Tech has increased efforts to keep students engaged in the community, and the day’s projects were a component of that push. The projects also contributed to WVU’s Million Hour Match initiative.
written by Olivia Mantohbang, business management major and University Relations intern
On November 10th, 2016, The Charleston Light Opera Guild joined us at WVU Tech for a preview dinner theatre performance of their latest production, Jesus Christ Superstar.
The musical tells the story of the last seven days of Jesus Christ’s life using the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Christopher Conard, who started doing musicals when he was nine years old, played the prophet in the Guild production. “I want people to see that communities can come together and create something beautiful and fun. It is nice to come and be around people who love and share,” he said.
Sophomore forensic major Tyesha White stated, “It is important because it is another way for us to express ourselves. Due to classes and other responsibilities, we are restricted but they are no restrictions in art. You can dance, sing or paint and it’s a good expression. The show was good and very emotional. I had chills. I felt really connected with the performance. I am fortunate that I got to watch their performance.”
The musical was just one of the ways students are entertained on campus. Dean of Students Richard Carpinelli shared, “I think it is always great when we can bring cultural activities to the campus and have students enjoy something out of the norm. We want students to be interested in the cultural arts and make good use of performances around the area.”
To learn more about The Charleston Light Opera Guild, visit charlestonlightoperaguild.org.
On Thursday, November 17, WVU Tech students, faculty and staff met on the Beckley campus to celebrate the opening of the university’s Student Success Center.
Originally launched on the Montgomery campus in 2013, the SSC is a popular resource for students. The center offers a wide range of academic support services, including first-year advising and free on-site peer tutoring. The SSC also provides students computer access and a place to hold study or group project sessions.
The SSC has become an integral part of the WVU Tech experience for many students transitioning into college life. It’s also a powerful tool for keeping current students on the right track.
“We’ve seen a small, steady increase in retention since we started the program, and we think it’s due in large part to the kind of treatment we’re providing first-year and new students,” said WVU Tech Dean of Students Richard Carpinelli.
The SSC’s director Kelly Hudgins said that the center was serving students on the Beckley campus since before the semester started. Beckley students have been working with tutors in math, psychology and pre-nursing courses. SSC advisors worked with Beckley students at four registration events over the summer and connected with more than 100 students before the school year began.
“This fall, SSC staff have conducted 400 individual student meetings on the Beckley campus. We advise 178 students in Beckley, and are pleased to report that 77 percent of them are already registered for spring term classes,” she said.
As the university transitions to the campus full-time, Hudgins expects the SSC to see continued growth.
“In Montgomery, we have logged 12,000 student sign-ins during each academic year. We expect this trend to continue in Beckley,” she said.
“It was absolutely a natural fit that we replicate the program here in Beckley,” said Carpinelli. “I think we’ll see it continue to grow in the Learning Resource Center because this really serves as a central point of activity for the campus.”
WVU Tech Campus President Carolyn Long addressed attendees at the grand opening. She shared that the SSC’s mission is a part of the university’s overall push to help students realize their academic goals.
“This is one more step in making sure that our students are as successful as humanly possible. We tell students that they can be successful here, but that they have to work at it. We tell them that we will give 100 percent, but you’ve got to give 100 percent, too. This is part of making sure they meet those expectations and find success,” she said.
WVU Tech is pleased to share that Candice Stadler, director of WVU Tech’s office of Career Services and Cooperative Education, was awarded the Stella Cooksey Distinguished Service Award by the West Virginia Association of Student Personnel Administrators.
The award is given annually to a student affairs professional from WVASPA each year. Recipients are selected for their service to a West Virginia higher education institution, commitment to WVASPA and “contributions to the field of student personnel through teaching, administration, or research.”
Stadler served as a board member of the organization for four years and was a member of the conference steering committee. She served as WVASPA’s president in 2013 and as its historian the following year.
She said the work has been a rewarding experience because she believes in the organization and its mission.
“In this region, we don’t have a lot of resources to go to national conferences or to engage in that kind of professional development. WVASPA fills that void,” she said.
“It provides networking. We do an annual conference. It’s about getting these professionals connected to one another and to resources to help them in their careers.”
Stadler received the award during WVASPA’s fall conference earlier this month. She said she was surprised to have been selected for the honor.
“All of this is a team effort. Education is a team effort. Student affairs is a team effort. There is no one person that does it all,” she said. “I consider student affairs my life’s work, so this is very special to me. This is a tremendous honor from a tremendous organization. I’m very thankful and humbled by it.”
Immediate Past President of WVASPA, Dr. Sarah Beasley, said Stadler played an instrumental role in reviving the group, which had faced a few years of uncertainty.
“The WVASPA organization had once been a vibrant community of student affairs professionals but experienced several years of stagnation. As president, Candice inspired a small group of institutional representatives to revive WVASPA. Thanks to these individuals’ dedication and, in particular, Candice’s energetic, take-charge leadership, WVASPA has once again become a thriving organization,” she said.
Though Stadler has rotated off the group’s board to allow others the opportunity to serve, she said she plans to continue working with WVASPA and that she’s excited about the organization’s days ahead.
“I think WVASPA has a really bright outlook. It’s a very vibrant organization and it’s growing. I think there are a lot of good things in the organization’s future,” she said.
At WVU Tech, Stadler has overseen the successful expansion of the university’s career services and cooperative learning offerings. She has also been instrumental in organizing service learning volunteer opportunities for students and forging new partnerships with community organizations.
On Saturday, November 12, 30 students from five regional high schools visited the Montgomery campus for the High School Programming Competition hosted by the WVU Tech department of Computer Sciences and Information Systems.
Participating teams spent the day coding solutions to ten problems in a bid to showcase their programming skills and compete for scholarships.
The “Sudden Old Man” team from George Washington High School Jacob Harris, Sarah Snider and William Thompson took first place, earning a $300 cash prize per team member and $3,000 renewable scholarships to WVU Tech.
George Washington’s “Tutoring After School” team took second and South Charleston High School’s “VADARS” team rounded out the leaderboard in third. Second place finishers Mitchell Nelson, Robert Hageboeck and Zayd Tolaymat won $200 cash and $2,000 WVU Tech scholarships. Joseph Clark, Alex Sanchez and Michael Blessent of team “VADARS” took home $100 each and $1,000 scholarships.
WVU Tech would like to congratulate all of the winners and thank the students who came out for the competition.
Visit the department’s Facebook page to see more photos from the competition.
On November 11-12, the Golden Bear community gathered in Montgomery for the university’s “Through the Decades” homecoming.
Friday’s student and alumni activities included Tech trivia, a coffee bar, a wrestling victory over Penn State Du Bois and a ‘Through the Decades’ dance and costume contest.
In the afternoon, a crowd of 80 students, faculty, staff and alumni met in the engineering auditorium for the State of Tech Address. Campus President Carolyn Long shared an update on the campus and the transition to Beckley. She reflected on the history of the institution and its outlook for the future.
“Think of how far we’ve come. We did that because we look forward. We want to celebrate the past and keep all those wonderful memories we had at Tech. That’s timeless. But we must move forward,” she said.
“Tech is not about buildings, land or a budget. It’s about faculty that prepare our students for the next stage of life. It’s about the staff and administrators that support students and each other and they move down this path. And it’s about the wonderful students who walk the halls of our campus and who will one day become alumni who talk about the good old days,” she said.
The university hosted a parade in Montgomery on Saturday morning followed by a tailgate at the Neal D. Baisi Athletic Center. Women’s and men’s basketball alumni faced off in games at 11 and noon on Saturday. At 2 p.m., the WVU Tech men’s basketball team beat Point University, 117-80.
Erin Dydland, ‘02, drove in from Charleston to attend the events. Dydland grew up in Queens, New York and came to Tech on a basketball scholarship. She went on to become one of the first graduates of the university’s athletic coaching education program and uses the skills she learned running programs at the YMCA in Charleston.
For her, Saturday was a homecoming in the true sense of the word.
“We’re catching up with a lot of people. It’s like we never left,” she said. “The friends that I made at this school became my family. They still are. I never went back to New York because this is them. This is my family.”
Robert “Doc” Warner, ‘72, played baseball at Tech. The Pineville, West Virginia native earned an education degree and went on to teach for more than 30 years before retiring. Today, he’s an active referee and coaches golf and softball at Wyoming East High School.
“I learned a lot from Coach Baisi back in the day. He taught classes in coaching football and basketball and I learned stuff from him that I put into use in my career all the time,” he said.
Warner attended Tech during the height of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement. He remembers attending concerts put on by the Tech Organization for Black Unity and making friends in the gym shooting hoops in his free time. He said that he couldn’t have been in a better place.
“Tech was incredible when I was here. The nostalgia is something. Just remembering the good times I’ve had here. I had a blast and I learned some life lessons that stuck with me,” he said.
Warner said he’s excited about the university’s future in Beckley and plans to become a season ticket holder when the basketball program moves to the new campus.
Check out photos from the weekend’s festivities on Flickr.
On Friday, November 4, nearly 40 community and nonprofit representatives from the Beckley region gathered on WVU Tech’s Beckley campus for a community partner open house.
The event included a networking session and a meet-and-greet with staff from WVU Tech service and student life and representatives from the WVU Center for Service and Learning office. The open house also featured a panel discussion for best practices in working with college students as volunteers and community partners were introduced to iServe, WVU’s online community service management system. That system allows these organizations to register with WVU and posts service opportunities for students in the region.
The event is part of an ongoing effort to increase engagement with the regional community. Starting this month, WVU Tech will host an AmeriCorps VISTA whose mission will be to work with the local community, WVU Tech and the WVU Center for Service and Learning to create partnerships for service opportunities.
The open house was the first critical step in the process.
For Candice Stadler, director of Career Services at WVU Tech and a service learning coordinator, the endeavor is an important part of the university’s growing relationship with the region.
“WVU Tech is laying the groundwork to become an active member of the Raleigh County community. The community benefits by learning how the college and our students can assist them in their work in a variety of social and civic issues,” she said.
In all, 20 community agencies were represented at the gathering. Big Brothers Big Sisters of South Central West Virginia’s Beckley office, the American Red Cross, the Piney Creek Watershed Association, the Beckley Arts Center, the Raleigh County Commission on Aging, One Voice, WV FREE and other community organizations were represented.
“In the long run, this will be an opportunity for WVU Tech to help students explore issues related to citizenship, civic duty, career development and character. We are so excited for the opportunities to work together in the future and many new partnerships are in the works,” said Stadler.
“One of our first big initiatives will be the Martin Luther King Day of Service in January. Students, faculty and staff should look for information on the event in the coming weeks.”
Stadler shared that the event was made possible by the support of WVU Tech Student Life, the WVU Center for Service and Learning and the Beckley non-profit community.
WVU Tech’s faculty members are dedicated to the advancement of the fields they teach. Outside of the classroom, they’re researchers, writers, presenters, go-to experts and road warriors who share their passion for learning with the world.
Here’s what our faculty members have been up to:
Dr. Cortney Barko (English) presented at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference in Chicago, October 6-9, with a paper titled “Teaching the History of Women in Art: Challenges and Breakthroughs.”
Dr. Rachel Bragg (English) also presented at the Chicago MPCA conference with a paper titled “Inked by the Author(s): Composing Tattoos and Complicating Authorship.”
Dr. Bill Clough (English) presented his paper ”’So this is the guy my dad wouldn’t shut up about?’ Tony Stark and Steve Rogers as Sibling Rivals” at the MPCA conference.
Dr. Melissa Sartore (History) also joined the group in Chicago, where she presented her paper “Drunk and Diverse: Reframing the Founding Fathers.”
Dr. Houbing Song (Electrical and Computer Engineering) collaborated on and published three peer-reviewed journal papers in Ad Hoc Networks, and the Journal of Intelligent and Fuzzy Systems. Dr. Song also published one edited book, “Industrial Internet of Things: Cybermanufacturing Systems”.
Join WVU Tech and the Charleston Light Opera Guild on Thursday, November 10 for dinner and a preview performance of Jesus Christ Superstar.
The dinner will begin at 6 p.m. in the WVU Tech Center Ballroom. At 7 p.m., the Guild will offer a 30-minute preview performance of the upcoming show followed by a Q&A session for attendees.
The musical which has been performed worldwide for more than 40 years is a rock music-based storytelling experience that follows Jesus Christ’s last week from the perspective of Judas.
The event is free to students, staff and faculty at WVU Tech. Those planning to attend the dinner must register online by 4:00 p.m. on Monday, November 7.
The Guild will present the full show at the Charleston Civic Center Little Theater on November 4, 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19. Find out more on the Charleston Light Opera Guild website.
WVU Tech and WVU hosted two days packed with family events in Beckley for Gold & Blue Weekend, October 28-29.
Friday kicked off the special series with a pep rally at the King Coal Beckley AutoMall Arena. Spectators watched performances from the WVU dance team, WVU Tech cheerleaders and WVU cheerleaders. The Golden Bears and Mountaineers men’s basketball teams held open practices following the rally. After practice, attendees met with players and coaches from both teams for an autograph session.
Saturday’s events started at Word Park in uptown Beckley. The University hosted a family fun zone and street fair where families picked up giveaways, explored a fire department safety house, played games, listened to the WVU Basketball Pep Band and attended cheerleading camp.
That evening, the crowd moved back to the King Coal Beckley AutoMall Arena for the Gold & Blue men’s basketball exhibition game between WVU Tech and WVU. The sold-out event drew in more than 3,200 spectators.
For photos of Gold & Blue Weekend, visit WVU Tech on Flickr.