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FROM THE PRESIDENT
March 18, 2013
When I became Shepherd University's president five years ago, two things were obvious to me. Shepherd had a well-deserved reputation as one of the best performing small state universities in the country but our service to the greater Eastern Panhandle region could be strengthened.
A critically needed improvement to that service was establishing an education center in Martinsburg. I began exploring the idea.
Non-traditional students (who are increasingly becoming the norm) have difficulty obtaining higher education on a traditional college campus. The 15-20 minute one-way trip from Martinsburg to Shepherdstown (30-40 minutes round-trip) makes it difficult for a single parent working full-time to further his or her education. Plus, the traditional organization of the academic year on campus does not fit with the schedules of many fully employed people.
Blue Ridge Community and Technical College offers great service to the area by providing the first two years of college at in-state tuition rates. But no such public institution exists in Martinsburg for junior, senior, or graduate-level courses.
The Martinsburg Center is closer than the Shepherdstown campus to adult learners living in Martinsburg, Inwood, Hedgesville, Berkeley Springs, and other Eastern Panhandle locations. The center will offer courses that fit adult learners' busy schedules, with many classes offered during evenings or weekends. With scheduling flexibility being a priority alongside convenience and location, many of the Martinsburg Center's courses will be completed in shorter time frames than the traditional semester by including course time spent online in addition to classroom instruction.
Now that we have found a suitable location, a Shepherd presence in Martinsburg is coming to fruition this summer. Shepherd's new location at 261 Aikens Center just off Edwin Miller Boulevard will allow us the best opportunity to serve the residents of Martinsburg and our region.
Shepherd's planning committee led the search for a suitable location, looking at more than a half dozen locations. We wanted a place that is near Interstate 81, because we want the Martinsburg Center to be convenient for the entire Eastern Panhandle. We also needed lots of parking and proximity to restaurants (since we're not going to have a cafeteria). We believe that the 261 Aikens Center location meets all the University's needs, and, as we are always aware of our responsibility to spend our taxpayers' money in the most prudent manner possible, we negotiated a good deal for the location. Moreover, we will need and are now seeking additional financial support from the state for this endeavor. We know the legislature will be watching our decisions and our spending.
I appreciate the enthusiasm of the Shepherd University community for this new concept. At a time in higher education when we need to rethink pricing and ways of delivering education to be affordable and accessible, this approach is "just in time." The programs and delivery models have been created by our faculty and staff in new and exciting ways, and these new approaches will enrich what we do in Shepherdstown as well as in Martinsburg.
Shepherd really is glad to be in Martinsburg! The greater the center's success, the more Shepherd can do for economic, cultural, and social development in Martinsburg and the entire Eastern Panhandle. We look forward to the days ahead.
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