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Shepherd University, affiliated organizations receive $2.7 million in federal money

ISSUED: 27 March 2024
MEDIA CONTACT: Cecelia Mason

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University will be able to upgrade many of its learning spaces thanks to $2.2 million in Congressionally Directed Spending (CDS) through the U.S. Department of Education. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) included the funding in the federal budget that Congress passed last Friday. In addition, Manchin and Capito secured $250,000 each for the Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education and the Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications, which are both housed on Shepherd’s campus.

“We are profoundly grateful to Senators Manchin and Capito for this critical support that will enhance many learning facilities on campus,” said Dr. Mary J.C. Hendrix, president. “This special funding will also allow the Byrd Center and the Stubblefield Institute to advance their critical missions.”

The money will enable Shepherd to renovate up to 40 classrooms, labs, auditoriums, and theater spaces over the next three years and provide computers in student labs and to faculty and staff. The renovations will improve the safety, cost-effectiveness, and educational impact of these spaces and provide an enhanced student experience through technological improvements.

“From an academic perspective, we need to upgrade the technology in many of our classrooms” said Joey Dagg, CIO/CISO, director of IT services. “We’re trying to impact not just student engagement but teaching engagement and lifelong learning.”

“We can now upgrade some labs with equipment for data science and analytics,” said Dr. Ben Martz, dean of the College of Business, Recreation, and Education. “This project will allow us to install showcase tools such as video walls and immersive computing for analytics. The future may hold incorporating virtual reality, where faculty can actually walk students through a database and explain what’s going on in that database.”

Martz said the Congressionally Directed Spending will also provide furnishing to modernize the classrooms and make them more flexible.

“This will give instructors options on how to teach the class,” Martz said. “You would teach a problem-solving class drastically differently than you would teach a programming class, so the same room would handle all of that.”

Martz and Dagg say the CDS money advances a plan to overhaul several instructional spaces in all buildings across campus. In addition, two Shepherd partners are receiving CDS funding to further their missions.

The Robert C. Byrd Center for Congressional History and Education will use the $250,000 in Archives Management Initiatives funding from the National Archives and Records Administration to support the digitization of paper and photographic records managed by the center.

The Bonnie and Bill Stubblefield Institute for Civil Political Communications will develop a research-based methodology to facilitate discussions that bridge political divides and offer solutions to overcome problems that impact the future of West Virginia and the country. The $250,000 in U.S. Department of Education funding will help the Stubblefield Institute develop this methodology and use it to bring together many voices to solve issues, including experts, legislators, lobbyists, nonprofits, and students from Shepherd and around the state.

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