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State of WVU Tech: Growth due to move to Beckley [Register-Herald]

By Jordan Nelson, Register-Herald Reporter
Oct 5, 2018

During the 2018 State of Tech address, WVU Tech's Interim Campus President Dr. Gerald Lang said first-year enrollment numbers have nearly doubled from a decade ago. 

WVU Tech has enrolled 75 more first-time freshman during the 2018-19 school year than it did when the Beckley campus opened last year, and Lang said although the number will hopefully continue to grow, he believes it's all due to what he called the "Beckley effect." 

Although Lang didn't release 2018-19 enrollment numbers during his State of Tech address, it was confirmed the institution surpassed the 1,700 mark, after surpassing 1,600 last year. 

"This is our home, Beckley, West Virginia," Lang said. "The location of Beckley is a draw for students in southern West Virginia, it's a hub for our commuter students, and it gives WVU a unique market in the hub of Appalachian culture.

"Our students can earn a WVU branded degree by remaining close to their families. We at Tech believe we have a role and responsibility to serve students in southern West Virginia, to give them the opportunity to get a good education.

"Our location in Beckley provides the momentum to move forward." 

The move to Beckley was just what Tech need, Lang added. He said the student body is now compiled of students from 30 different countries, 30 states and 50 of West Virginia's 55 counties. 

At the address, he said the still-new campus is compiled of 15 academic buildings, including the recently acquired federal building located on Neville Street, which will be the new home for criminal investigation and criminal justice programs.

He said the institution has two residence halls, and another one breaking ground early next year, along with 19 houses utilized as office space. 

"These buildings, this place, creates our home, and our home provides a foundation." 

Beckley also provides more space for athletics — WVU Tech often utilizes many of its facilities, such as the Beckley YMCA complex and the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, for sporting events. 

Lang said he takes pride in the programs offered at WVU Tech, and believes they are a driving force in attracting students to attend. Currently, the institution offers 40-plus academic programs, 9 ABET-accredited programs in engineering and and computer science and a few new programs, including construction management, adventure-recreation management and aviation management. 

While offering such programs, WVU Tech remains in the top 100 undergraduate engineering programs in the 2018 U.S. News and World Report, he said. 

"We also want to congratulate our nursing students in the May 2017 graduating class — 100 percent of the students passed their board exam on their first try this summer," Lang said. "That is truly a great achievement." 

While several of WVU Tech's programs are now outdoor-related, Lang said the move to Beckley highlights this even more. He said they now have one of the best-accessible areas for outdoor-based activities, including their Tech outdoor orientation program, adventure-oriented academic classes and a large number of outings scheduled throughout the year. 

"This is what our students are looking for today, and it gives us an opportunity to connect with them." 

Lang believes WVU Tech can grow and thrive in Beckley, but the institution must accommodate to the continued changes in higher education and move forward by recognizing competition and aggressively market the schools programs, heighten focus on school success, continue to provide career placement opportunities and always plan for changes in the future. 

In Lang's blueprint for the future, he said he hopes the student enrollment will continue to grow, financial stability will be managed and a facilities plan will continue to be developed. 

"This is everyone's responsibility here at Tech. We're an easy sell, a public campus with a private school feel."

Although the current tuition cost for WVU Tech was not mentioned in Lang's address, it was confirmed tuition for a state resident is $7,464, and $18,648 for a non-state resident. Including room and board, the cost is $18,470 for a state resident, and $29,654 for a non-state resident.