By Cheryl Keenan
Dorothy Phillips, a member of the Tech Revitalization Committee who has previously taken the committee to task for what she views as its shortfalls, is speaking out again.
Phillips, also a member of the Take Back Tech Committee, was appointed as a community representative on the Revitalization Committee. The school’s revitalization project was created in 2011 by Senate Bill 486 and placed under the direction of the Legislative Oversight Commission on Education Accountability (LOCEA).
In spite of recent votes of confidence in the committee’s work by the representatives of the college’s faculty, staff and students, Phillips insists the committee is following an agenda set forth by West Virginia University rather than the proposals submitted in October 2011 to LOCEA by the Revitalization Committee.
Phillips says the committee proposal to be submitted to the West Virginia Legislature this month “bypasses the spirit and letter of SB 486.”
She accuses the committee of basing its proposals on a WVU-generated document, WVU Sightlines, rather than on the proposals of the Tech Revitalization Committee, which she calls the Curris Report after Dr. Constantine Curris, who served as chair of the team.
“Through this revitalization plan,” the former employee of West Virginia Tech writes in a guest opinion submitted to the Tribune’s sister newspaper, The Montgomery Herald, “the community and Tech alumni hoped that the new WVU president, Dr. James Clements, would begin correcting the injustices that have occurred on the Tech campus during the 16 years under WVU governance. Quite the opposite, it seems. WVU’s use of WVU Sightlines rather than the Curris Report to prioritize revitalization projects gives cause to question once again Morgantown’s intentions for its divisional campus in Montgomery.”
Among the major proposals of the Revitalization Committee was the discontinuation of the school’s football program, a suggestion instituted following the last school year. Other proposals called for programs to increase enrollment and stabilize ongoing academic programs. Toward that end, the team called for a revival of co-op and internship programs, and promotion of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) programs.
Phillips says the committee is focused too intently on physical plant improvements to the detriment of the academic improvement projects.
“The $7.8M that the Committee proposes to request from the Legislature for facility upgrades is based directly on WVU Sightlines, not on the Curris Report,” she writes. “WVU Sightlines deals only with facilities upgrades; the Curris Report deals with improvements in academics and facilities. ...
“Fancy buildings (or minimally refurbished buildings WVU Sightlines proposes — at $70M) will not necessarily bring students to campus. But students will come for courses of study that provide real-world experiences that connect them to jobs and people who control those jobs. And those students will stay and revitalize Tech.”
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