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Member of WVU Tech Revitalization Committee says Morgantown is hijacking efforts

MONTGOMERY, W.Va. -- A member of a team meant to save struggling West Virginia University Institute of Technology says the local efforts to prop up the school are being hijacked by WVU officials in Morgantown.

Dorothy Phillips, a member of the 11-person Tech Revitalization Committee, told members of the Higher Education Policy Commission on Thursday that the Revitalization Committee is jettisoning the recommendations of a state-commissioned improvement report in favor of a plan from WVU.

"Essentially, the Tech Revitalization Committee is being used to implement WVU's Sightlines Report rather than the legislatively mandated Tech Revitalization Plan," Phillips said in a prepared statement she gave to The Gazette. She delivered the report at a community forum on the Montgomery campus.

For months, the Tech Revitalization Committee has discussed a way to turn around the beleaguered Montgomery institution, largely using the recommendations from a turnaround report commissioned by the Legislature.

The revitalization report, which has formed the blueprint for the Revitalization Committee, said dramatically increasing enrollment was Tech's first priority and estimated that WVU Tech needed $5 million to $7 million a year for the next five years and $100 million down the road to stay afloat. The report laid out a series of big-picture fixes for the school, including facility upgrades and academic improvements.

But Phillips said that WVU officials are ditching the portion of the report focusing on academic improvements and solely using a 2011 report commissioned by WVU that looks at facilities improvements.

"A collection of buildings does not make an institution of higher learning," Phillips said. "Yet actions of the Tech Revitalization Committee so far have been driven by the Sightlines plan [commissioned by WVU], not by the Tech Revitalization Plan. The WVU system is essentially ignoring the Tech Revitalization Plan."

Officials from the Tech Revitalization Committee plan to ask the Legislature for more than $7.8 million to repair campus facilities at Tech. No money is being requested for academics.

Reach Amy Julia Harris at amy.harris@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4814.


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