Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Sister Newspapers' News

July 12, 2012

MSU students should know their options by July 31

Beckley — Mountain State University faculty are “concerned” but moving forward in the midst of the accreditation crisis confronting the institution, reported Faculty Senate Chairman Andrew Wheeler.

“Although we are concerned, we are focused on developing a teach-out plan so students can understand what their options will be as soon as possible,” he said.

The Higher Learning Commission has asked the school to develop a teach-out plan and submit it for commission approval by July 23, less than two weeks away.

The accrediting body expects students to be notified about their options by July 31.

Wheeler said the school is still in the beginning stages of creating a faculty committee to work with a larger group developing the plan.

E-mails asking faculty for their involvement were sent out Wednesday.

Beyond that, the parameters of what a teach-out plan might look like is unknown although the Higher Learning Commission states the teach-out plan is for students who will finish their degree within the next year and want to continue at an accredited institution.

The teach-out plan will need to be created while the school is also working to put together a notice of intent to appeal during the next 14 days.

Wheeler said he is also not sure how the news will affect the school’s hiring cycle, which is finalized eight to 12 months in advance. He thinks a few faculty might leave, but most are already on contract.

“I do think it is really unfortunate that the Higher Learning Commission did not recognize the changes that have occurred ... . Much of what was reported was in the pre-Show-Cause era under (former MSU President Dr. Charles) Polk,” he added.

He insists the institution is “magnitudes better” than where it was a year ago.

One Mountain State University employee who wished to remain unidentified expressed a fear of losing their job, especially in today’s economy.

“I still do have hope, no matter how minimal that hope is. I’m sad for those of us who have been there a long time. We really need our jobs. We all have this information and we don’t know how to process it.”

Calls and e-mails requesting comments from other faculty members were not returned Wednesday.

— E-mail: splummer@register-herald.com

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