Latest Southern News

Women and men from throughout Logan joined two local professionals for a “women in business” forum at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College on Nov. 18. The meeting was held as a part of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day. Guest speakers Dr. Jennifer O’Neal and Diana Barnette shared the successes and challenges they face as business owners. Both have successful businesses in Logan County while mastering the demands of their work and family lives. O’Neal manages her own physical therapy practice while maintaining a position at Logan Physical Therapy and a side business where she operates as a trunk keeper for the children’s clothing line Matilda Jane Clothing. O’Neal stressed the importance of forward planning and organization in running a business. “Everyone always assumes that, if they have a business, they can afford it. It’s not true. There are many months where I’ve went without paying myself so I can pay my employees. I have two kids now. It’s very time consuming,” explained O’Neal. Barnette explained she and her husband had purchased their mining repair business and then moved to diversify their businesses by opening a cinema, Fountain Place Cinema 8 and a restaurant, Gatti’s Pizza. Barnette explained she returned to college to get a degree when the recent downturn in the mining business began. She noted that women from Appalachia should not be underestimated saying, “Being from Logan, I’ve gone in places where the minute I walk through the door …this stigma is attached…I use that. They underestimate me every time.” Stephen Hall, division head for healthcare and business at Southern, explained, “We are going to be sponsoring several forums over the next academic year. Our…effort is to really incorporate a mindset of entrepreneurship here at the college so that every discipline…can get a sense of entrepreneurism, and when they leave here with their formal education they also take away a spirit of reinvesting in our economy.” The event was sponsored by the Southern West Virginia Community College Foundation.
Board of Governors Chair,Thomas Heywood announced today that Dr. Robert E. Gunter was selected the next President of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College effective January 1, 2016 pending the approval of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education. The selection was made after a nationwide search. Dr. Gunter will succeed Dr. Merle Dempsey, who has been serving as Southern’s Interim President since July of 2015. Dr. Gunter is currently the Vice President for Workforce Education at Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas. As a senior manager, he is responsible for all aspects of Technical Education, including all technical credit and non-credit bearing courses; the secondary shared-time technical center; and, various workforce development grants. Dr. Gunter previously served as Deputy Director for Career and Technical Education at the Arkansas Department of Career Education, Little Rock, Arkansas, and as Vice President for Workforce Technology at Mid-South Community College (MSCC), West Memphis, Arkansas. Dr. Gunter has a record of successful partnership creation, grant writing and management, and fund raising through grant writing and the development of donor support for career and technical programs. He earned his Doctorate in Secondary Education Administration/Technology Education from Arizona State University, Tempe Arizona. He received his Master’s degree in Vocational and Adult Education, and his Bachelors’ degree in Vocational and Adult Education/Industrial Arts Education from Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. "We received invaluable input from the campus and community stakeholders; and we want to commend the Search Committee's commitment, collaboration and dedication to the process of finding the best possible match for Southern," stated Heywood, on behalf of the Board of Governors. "In addition, the feedback we received from the faculty and staff at the campus forums was equally vital to our deliberations. We feel confident that Dr. Gunter understands the college's needs, mission, and vision and is the best choice to lead Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College."
Christopher Ward, Instructor of Mathematics is being recognized as the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College, November Employee of the Month. Ward is a graduate of Washington State University where he earned a Master’s of Science in Mathematics. He also received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science from Saint Martin’s University and an Associates of Arts and Sciences from Olympic College in Bremerton, Washington. He joined the faculty of Southern in January 2015 and is bringing a ‘new view to the mathematics instruction. With the change in how we are doing instruction, in regards to the co-curricular model of teaching, being able to provide reasonable avenues to assist us in evaluating our students in their education process is important’. Ward’s style of teaching allows him to adjust and help a student understand the material. “Being a military veteran, I can understand where some of our student population comes from. I retired, and went back to school to obtain a degree to become an educator rather than go into the civilian workforce directly with the skills I had obtained. Some of our students are doing this exact same thing. They have worked in a field and now asked to change their lifestyles completely and find a new job. I take time, whether it is to stop what I am doing at my office or to travel to other sites during the week, and provide assistance to any student that may want the help. Being able to do this, makes their education a better experience and provide a positive image for Southern,” said Ward. Ward is just starting to make his mark on the campus of Southern and states that providing knowledge to our students is what he likes most about his career. “In the majority of the classes I teach, it comes down to them asking “why do I need this?” Being able to help provide an answer to this question, even if it is just one piece of the puzzle of their program as a whole, enriches the understanding of the material.” In his spare time, Ward enjoys outdoor activities with his wife Monica. “The great outdoors that has been provided to us is always a priority to me and my wife. There is so much that can be seen and learned about the region, that you never stop learning about the history each and every time you go to a place.” He also enjoys model railroading, playing the piano and competing in triathlons. With thoughts of the upcoming Veterans Day events, Ward, a retired Chief Petty Officer, wants to remind everyone to remember those that have served our nation. “We all do things in our lives to affect and change the outcomes of our own life, but these men and women go above and beyond what most of us could imagine to help change the lives of many”.
The on-campus interview schedules for the visiting presidential finalists have been revised. These schedules, along with information about the candidates, are posted on our website . The “Presidential Search Get More Details” icon is located in the center of the page on Southern’s main page. You may follow the Committee’s progress by clicking on the Progress Reports link on the Presidential Search webpage.

Following a national search, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Board of Governors/Presidential Search Committee has identified four finalists and have invited each for campus visits next week.

The presidential finalists are, in alphabetical order: Mr. James Buyea, Chief Information Officer at Jefferson Community College in Watertown, New York. Mr. Buyea has more than 14 years’ experience in higher education, 12 years in executive management, and 28 years in technical experience.

Dr. Robert E. Gunter, Vice President for Workforce Education at Arkansas State University Mid-South, West Memphis, Arkansas. Dr. Gunter previously served as Deputy Director for Career and Technical Education at the Arkansas Department of Career Education, Little Rock, Arkansas, and as Vice President for Workforce Technology at Mid-South Community College.

Dr. Lisa Larson, Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs for Hennepin Technical College in Minneapolis, Minnesota. She served as the interim president for North Hennepin Community College for two years.

Mr. Alton D. Scales, a consultant for Capitol Peaks Advising Advising in Tampa, Florida. He previously served as President of the Community College of Aurora in Aurora, Colorado; Campus CEO of Colorado Mountain College; Assistant Vice President of Student Services at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania; Vice President of Academic Affairs at Neosho County Community College in Chanute, Kansas; Director of Multicultural Affairs at the University of Kansas; and Director of Intercultural Services and Special Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of North Texas.

“We received a tremendous amount of interest for this position, and the quality of these applicants certainly speaks volumes about Southern’s reputation for excellence,” Board of Governors/Presidential Search Committee Chairman, Tom Heywood said. “We are very fortunate to have four outstanding candidates who are eager to build on that reputation and lead Southern in its mission of providing a quality, affordable college education.”

Buyea and Larson will visit Southern on Tuesday, November 10; and Gunter will visit Southern on Wednesday, November 11.

During each interview, the candidate will tour Southern’s Logan and Williamson campuses and meet with various constituent groups. A portion of each campus interview will be open to the public. Each finalist candidate is also scheduled for a final interview with the Presidential Search Committee, the Chancellor for Community and Technical College Education, and members of the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education.

Resumes for each finalist and a details for the campus visits are available at

The candidate selected will replace Dr. Merle Dempsey who has served as interim president since President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin’s retirement in June.

Should you have any questions regarding the presidential search, please direct them to Mr. Tom Heywood, Board of Governors and Presidential Search Committee Chair, is the official spokesperson for the Search Committee. The search committee has said it anticipates a new president could be on board in time for the start of the spring semester.

Students of the Surgical Technology program at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College recently celebrated National Surgical Technologists Week. The week is set aside each year to promote the profession. According to Judith Curry, Assistant Professor/Coordinator of Surgical Technology, the students participated in activities related to the programs course of study. The events concluded with a lunch of pizza and cake. Students are members of the Association of Surgical Technologists (national organization) and attend state assembly meetings.
A new career in 16 weeks? It’s possible! Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College is now offering an Electro-Mechanical Instrumentation Certificate program. This certificate will prepare students for jobs in the oil and gas industry, the chemical industry, and other industries that use pumps and pipes to move materials and monitor processes. This program was especially designed to assist displaced workers with a quicker return to the workforce. It is being offered in an accelerated format so that after 16 weeks of classes the student will have earned the certificate necessary to get back to work! Classes are scheduled to begin soon but there are still slots available for interested students. For more information contact Steven White at 304.236.7168 or
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has announced that it has achieved the state systems first fully approved course through Quality Matters. The psychology course, PY 201, was developed for full online delivery through the National Science Foundation Grant. Instructor of Psychology, Susan Baisden, M.S. Ph.D. lead the course and received a perfect point score. According to Carol Howerton, NSF Grant Project Director and Professor Information Technology, QM approval is “not an easy task’. Reviews are completed by a team of three members including a master reviewer and a content specialist.  These reviewers look at every page of the course and check for evidence against 43 different standards. Each standard has a point value of 1, 2 or 3 depending on the importance of the standard with 84 points considered passing. Two of the three reviewers must agree the standard was met to receive the points. “They look extremely close to see if the course content and assessments align with course objectives and that there are multiple methods of student engagement including student-student, student-content, and student-teacher.  If a link doesn’t work, if an objective isn’t measured as it is written, if anything is unclear they will find it and comment,” said Howerton. Baisden’s course received 99 out of 99 points. For more information visit online at
Southern students attending Halloween Fest will be admitted FREE! Any Southern Student with a valid Southern Student ID will be able to attend all Halloween Fest events free of charge including the Midnight Premier of the Addams Family the Musical. Halloween Fest kicks-off at 9:00 pm and will showcase two awesome bands: THE BIG BAD and LET THE GUILTY HANG, Zombie Effects Make-up, at 11:00 pm there will be a Parade of the Dead down Main Street, and a MIDNIGHT MATINEE of the Addams Family at the Coalfield Jamboree Theatre in downtown. Cost only $10 per person and a Zombie Run 5k is also part of the event but has a separate registration fee of $25 for non students