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Glenville State College Serves Central W.Va.’s Needs

By JESSICA WIANT

For The State Journal

G lenville State College — a school founded in 1872 to train teachers — has kept the same emphasis on the importance of receiving an education, despite plenty of expansion.

“College opens up so many avenues,” said the school’s president of eight years, Peter B. Barr.

While the school now offers degrees in criminal justice, natural resource management, accounting, music and more in addition to the still well-reputed teacher education programs, one of the overall driving forces at Glenville is making higher education available to the students of Central West Virginia who might not otherwise receive a higher education at all, according to Barr.

While about a quarter of U.S. students go on to graduate college, the number is more like 17 percent in West Virginia and is an even lower 10 percent for the central part of the state, Barr said.

To that end, Glenville State College participates in several outreach efforts aimed at recruiting students to attend college and build bridges between K-12 and higher education, from offering free summer camps to The Hidden Promise program, which identifies eighth- through 12th-graders and encourages them to receive mentors from current college students and visit campus often to become familiar with what college has to offer. When the students enroll full-time at Glenville, they also receive a scholarship, according to the school’s website.

The college also participates in the JASON Project, to promote science, technology, engineering and math for students and professional development for teachers in the state.

Even making parents feel more at ease that sending their child off to college doesn’t mean they’ll go away forever is part of the puzzle, according to Barr.

And on that point, the proof is in the numbers: One study concluded that Glenville has the highest percentage of graduates of any public West Virginia college or university who stay in the state — as well as the highest return on investment.

The school places an importance on economic development in the state in general as well, according to Barr.

“Glenville is really integral as an economic engine for Central West Virginia,” he said.

As for the school’s curricula, that means both theoretical and practical approaches are taken no matter the field of study — whether it’s working with convicts in the criminal justice program or running a skid steer in natural resource management, according to Barr. It also means lots of continuing education programs for professionals.

In the classrooms at Glenville, the student-to-teacher ratio is 19-1, and about 90 percent of the school’s 1,900 students come from in-state.

Though the school primarily serves West Virginians, Barr would put the quality offered at Glenville State College up against schools anywhere.

What’s new at Glenville? During Barr’s term as president the college has undergone many renovations, he said. The school’s brand-new $27 million Waco Center opened in April and offers a venue to seat up to 3,500 for athletics, concerts and other events for both students and the community.

In sports, the college is a member of the Mountain East Conference, and both the men’s and women’s basketball teams made it to their regional tournaments, and the women’s team also hosted their regional tournament this season, Barr said.