The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

October 3, 2012

Guest Column

Returning Tech to glory involves more than facilities

By Dorothy Phillips

— The article titled “WVU Tech renewal panel making ample progress” in the Sept. 22, Saturday Gazette-Mail presents the thinking of David Hendrickson regarding progress made by the Tech Revitalization Committee in revitalizing Tech.

“We have for the first time a very solid understanding about what Tech is about and what Tech can be,” Hendrickson says. He also suggests that we, members of the Tech Revitalization Committee, have spent over 100 hours working through the revitalization plan.

Where has Hendrickson, chair of the Tech Revitalization Committee, been for all these years if he is only beginning to understand what Tech is all about and what it can be? Should the chairman of the Tech Revitalization Committee be someone who, after a nine-month commitment through committee meetings totaling way less than hundreds of hours, is only beginning to develop “a very solid understanding about what Tech is about and what Tech can be?” Or should it be someone who already has that understanding and wants to revitalize Tech in accordance with Senate Bill 486?

I would have to assume that Hendrickson did not include me in his statement because my association with Tech extends back to 1963. My employment with Tech covers two time periods, 1963-75 and 1991-2005, and includes three offices — dean of students, athletic department, and teacher education. It seems that Mr. Hendrickson does not understand that I have worked with the fine citizens of Montgomery and the surrounding communities for almost seven years in my endeavors through Take Back Tech to keep and maintain Tech as a viable baccalaureate college in Montgomery.  One hundred hours — or 500 — would only scratch the surface for me.

Service in different administrative groups at Tech has supplied me with enough perspective to understand that the administrative infrastructure of the institution during the last 16 years under WVU is that very reason that “we” are sitting on the Tech Revitalization Committee today trying to correct the wrongs perpetrated on the campus during that time period.   

I know whom I represent on that Committee. The public — including Tech alumni — knows whom I represent on that committee. My representation on that committee extends far beyond the boundaries of Montgomery,

There are many things that Mr. Hendrickson, a recent visitor to the Montgomery area, does not understand. He does not understand that all the mayors in Fayette County and the Upper Kanawha Valley and our legislators requested my representation on the Tech Revitalization Committee.

He does not understand that Tech alumni and present and former Tech employees — including several former presidents — are working with me in my endeavors on that committee.

He does not understand that I represent the 7,000 taxpayers who signed the 2006 petition to keep and maintain the Leonard C. Nelson College of Engineering in Montgomery when the WVU administrative infrastructure unsuccessfully tried to relocate Engineering to Dow in South Charleston.

He does not understand that Take Back Tech played a vital role in the passage of Senate Bill 486 for the revitalization of the Tech campus.

Even though Mr. Hendrickson would not publicly admit it, he does know and fully understand my concerns about the manner in which the Tech revitalization process is being handled through the committee over which he presides as chair. I have requested only that the Tech Revitalization Committee’s request for monies from the Legislature be based upon the Tech Revitalization Plan, the legislative product of Senate Bill 486, rather than the Sightlines Report, a report that was commissioned by WVU and has no connection with Senate Bill 486. I have presented the concern that the money request from the Legislature should be based upon facilities upgrades and academics — not just the facilities upgrades delineated in the Sightlines Report.

Nothing would please me more than for Mr. Hendrickson to get out of his law office in Charleston and walk the streets of Montgomery and the surrounding communities with me and discover what our fine citizens truly think about what has happened to their institution, Tech, since it became an affiliate of WVU. There’s no doubt in my mind as to what Mr. Hendrickson would discover in that little tour.

He would discover that the vast majority of the taxpayers want nothing more than for Tech to be returned to health under this revitalization process and to be returned to its independent governance, the ultimate goal of Senate Bill 486. He would also discover that my roots run deep and wide in this community and that the fine citizens of the community are wholeheartedly supporting me in this revitalization process.

I intend to continue to listen and respond to those I represent and to continue working with Mr. Hendrickson and every other member of the Tech Revitalization Committee to truly revitalize Tech in accordance with SB486.

(Phillips, a member of both the Tech Revitalization Committee and Take Back Tech, is a resident of Charlton Heights.)