Latest Southern News

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has established a chapter with the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Student Success Center Coordinator Tim Ooten and Darrell Taylor, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Engagement, will serve as the chapter advisors, helping to facilitate the five-step leadership program on Southern’s campuses. Southern’s first event for NSLS will be held on September 28, 2018.

NSLS is the nation’s largest leadership honor society and collegiate leadership development program, working with nearly one million students on over 600 colleges. NSLS differentiates itself from traditional honor societies in that students must complete a step-by-step leadership development program in order to become inducted. The curriculum offers students the opportunity to develop many indemand skills such as leadership, communication, and team building.

If you are interested in learning more about the Southern NSLS chapter, please contact Tim Ooten at 304-896-7658 or Darrell Taylor at 304-896-7432.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Foundation and the Tug Valley Road Runners Club are partnering to host their third annual Southern Harvest Half Marathon and 5K on Saturday, November 10, 2018. The marathon will begin at Southern’s Williamson campus at 9:00 a.m.

Participants can begin registering now for the half marathon (13.1 miles) and the 5K (3.1 miles). Late registration will be open just prior to the marathon, from 7:00 – 8:45 a.m. Please visit the Southern Harvest Half Marathon and 5K Facebook page at for more information or to register.

Sponsorship opportunities are available. For more information, please contact Tug Valley Road Runners Club President Alexis Batausa at 304-235-3400, or All proceeds from this event go to Southern’s Foundation, which awards scholarships to Southern students every semester.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College and the Tug Valley Road Runners Club are registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organizations with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Donations for this event may be tax deductible.

Mount Gay, W.Va. – Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College is proud to offer a degree program that enables students to apply their general course work and real-world experiences toward earning their degree.

Southern’s Board of Governors (BOG) Adult Degree Program is an alternative, non-traditional degree program that is specifically designed for adult students seeking a general education associate’s degree. This is one of Southern’s most useful degree programs, according to Brandon Kirk, the BOG coordinator and assistant professor of history at Southern.

“The BOG program is a flexible pathway designed for those persons who seek to apply earned credits or life/work experience toward a general associate’s degree,” Kirk said. “The BOG degree, while not directed to a specific area of expertise, such as nursing or electrical engineering, nevertheless gives an edge to a person’s employability, or, if already employed, can mean a promotion or an increase in salary.”

The Census Bureau estimates that a person with an associate’s degree will earn $400,000 or more over his or her lifetime than a person with a high school diploma.

The Board of Governors Adult Degree Program requires a 2.0 GPA. BOG candidates must have graduated high school or passed a high school equivalency exam more than two years prior to entry into the program. The student cannot possess another college degree. Twelve hours from a regionally accredited institution, including three hours at Southern, are required to graduate with the BOG degree.

The traditional pathway is to apply courses/credits toward the degree. The General Education Requirements are 21 credit hours: six hours in Communications (English, Speech), six hours in Math/Science, six hours in Social Science (History, Psychology, Sociology, Political Science), and three hours in Computer Literacy (computer class). The General Electives are 39 credit hours in most any non-remedial course.

“Southern’s BOG program is pleased to partner with West Virginia’s Remote Online Collaborative Knowledge System (WVROCKS) to offer anywhere from six to ten online courses every semester,” Kirk said. “These courses, offered exclusively to our BOG students, run in eight-week cycles. Aside from the benefits of an online experience, our BOG students gain more choices in terms of academic courses than non-BOG students. I believe strongly enough in their benefit to West Virginia students that I teach their Appalachian History and Culture course.”

WVROCKS courses do not show up in Southern’s schedule, however. They can only be accessed through an academic advisor, or Kirk. This semester, Southern is offering six WVROCKS courses to its BOG students: Allied Health 275: Science of Nutrition; History 275: Appalachian History and Culture; Math 275: Practical Math; Psychology 275: Drugs, Brain, and Behavior; Psychology 275: Principles of Mental and Emotional Health; Theater 275: Movies and Meaning: Communication in Film.

Students can also apply their life and work skills toward their BOG degree. Portfolios are typically the instrument of choice to show mastery over content areas and earn college credit. Southern offers a portfolio class to guide the student through the portfolio process and the program coordinator offers one-on-one guidance.

“I see many different types of BOG students,” Kirk said. “It’s a flexible program, so students come to me with many different scenarios and backgrounds. Some are students who have been enrolled at Southern for a certain period of time, switched programs or majors a few times, and have earned a relatively large number of credit hours. They are anxious to hold a degree in their hand, something to validate their hard work. Other BOG students are persons who have been enrolled in college on and off as life permitted, adding credits as they were able, perhaps without any specific direction. They may have completed or are close to completing the BOG degree and not realize it. Some BOG students bring an incredible life-work background to their college experience and can apply much of it earning credit for the BOG adult degree.”

If you are interested in learning more about the BOG degree program, or would like to register for classes, please contact BOG Coordinator Brandon Kirk at 304.307.0711 or

Mount Gay, W.Va. – Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has named Tim Ooten as the Student Success Center Coordinator. In his new role, Ooten will oversee all student activities, from on-campus events to registration.

As Student Success Center Coordinator, Ooten will coordinate and schedule activities in the Learning Studio, formerly known as the tutoring lab, at each campus location. He will also recruit professional, faculty, and peer tutors, and will work closely with faculty to refer high-risk students to the Learning Studio. All student leadership activities that fall under the umbrella of the National Society of Leadership Success will be under Ooten’s tutelage, as well.

Ooten has been employed with Southern for 30 years, having started as a production specialist in our television department in 1988. He served as the Adult and Veteran Coordinator, and has most recently been a Student Services Specialist. He is also currently serving as the Board of Governors representative for Southern’s classified staff.

“I’m proud of Tim’s dedication to Southern, and his commitment to our students,” Southern’s President, Dr. Robert Gunter, said. “He will excel in this new role, and our students will have a true advocate.”

In addition to being a dedicated employee for 30 years, Ooten also began his educational career at Southern, earning his associate’s degree here. He holds a bachelor’s degree in human services and a master’s degree in education and counseling from Lindsey Wilson College.

On Thursday, August 2, 2018, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College accepted a check from the Credit Bureau of the Virginias that will provide six $1,000 scholarships for qualifying Southern students during the 2018-2019 academic year.

Southern’s Wyoming county campus director, David Lord, accepted the check from Jim Sizemore, a board member of The Credit Bureau of the Virginias Foundation, Inc., and Jimmy Welch, Executive Director of The Credit Bureau of the Virginias Foundation, Inc.

Southern’s fall 2018 semester begins Monday, August 13.

On Saturday, July 28, Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College let its youth show. The nearly 50-year-old institution hosted its inaugural S-Con gaming and pop culture convention. And, from all indications, it was a success. Early estimates show the college welcomed about 350 people – of all ages, and entire families – who just wanted to be part of the day’s events.

“Really, our only goal was to give our students and our community a fun day, and show them what Southern has to offer,” Joe Nelson, Southern’s Web and Graphics Designer – and one of the driving forces behind S-Con – said. “Quite literally, we were looking to put the ‘community’ back in our ‘community college.’”

The idea for S-Con was nothing new. With the increased popularity of video games like Fortnite, conventions of this sort are branching out at many universities and towns across America. Rick Thompson and Matt Payne, Southern’s IT instructors, and FAA-certified drone pilots, had the idea several years ago. They thought it could be a great event for students and for the college.

“I just kept thinking about how much our students would enjoy something like this,” Thompson said. “The more I heard them talking about it, the more it started taking shape.” There was just one problem: time.

Busy schedules had initially halted the plans, at least temporarily. Further discussions with students – and Joe Nelson – convinced Thompson it could be a go, in spite of some obvious drawbacks. “The timeline was always the issue,” Nelson said. “We were never trying to compete with any other event. We just wanted a good day for our students, something that would draw them to the college and something that would be fun. Essentially, that was what was driving us from the beginning.”

Southern welcomed vendors from the world of comics and art, as well as Marshall University and the Southern Coalition for the Arts.

Payne gave drone demonstrations, and had even set up an obstacle course for visitors. The drones were one of the event’s most popular features, but that’s no surprise. Southern’s Drone Technology Program continues to be among its most sought-after, helping its IT program flourish, cementing itself as one of Southern’s most successful and fun programs.

“I’ve not seen anything like this at Southern since I was a student here about a decade ago,” Leah Clay Stone, Production Manager for the Southern Coalition for the Arts, said. “It’s just incredible.”

In the end, the event really did help the community: all proceeds from on-site vendors went to fund scholarships through Southern’s Foundation, which helps students from the area attend Southern at little to no cost.

“This really has been a great day,” Southern’s President, Dr. Robert Gunter, said. “I can see this becoming an annual event.”

Plans for next year’s S-Con are already in the works. If you’d like to be a part of the planning, you are encouraged to contact Rick Thompson at

The West Virginia Higher Education Commission has approved Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College’s partnership with Lindsey Wilson College for four more years.

Lindsey Wilson College is based in Columbia, Ky., and has 24 community campuses in Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia, and Tennessee. Southern’s Logan campus houses its only community campus in West Virginia.

Lindsey Wilson College came to Southern’s Logan campus in August 2007. Since then, the two colleges have collaborated to offer students several 2+2 programs, including a Bachelor of Arts in Human Services and Counseling degree. The curriculum in this partnership is designed for Southern students who are completing their Associate of Arts, Associate of Science, or Associate of Applied Science. Students interested in earning their bachelor degree through this collaboration are required to have at least 60 college credit hours in order to apply.

Lindsey Wilson College will be hosting orientation for anyone who may be interested in learning more, or to begin the registration process. The event will be held August 8 on Southern’s Logan campus, in room 202 of Building A. The orientation will run from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Interested students may register with Tonia Marcum, Coordinator of Educational Outreach and Online Programs, at, or by phone at 304-896-7431. Lindsey Wilson College’s fall semester begins August 23.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College has named Russell Saunders as its new Dean for the School of Career and Technical Studies.

Saunders has been part of the Southern family for 27 years, having started here as a clinical instructor in 1991. Since that time, Saunders has served as the Board of Governors Faculty Representative; Faculty Senator; and, most recently, he served as the Chair for the School of Allied Health and Nursing.

“My primary responsibility in life is to display the utmost integrity, accountability, and trustworthiness to my family, co-workers, and students,” Saunders said. “And all of that is based on genuine core values.”

Southern’s President, Dr. Robert Gunter, said of Saunders: “Throughout his career, Russell has demonstrated his ability to lead, and his dedication to his students. Russell will continue to foster that trust within our school community, and our local community. I look forward to working with him in helping our students accomplish everything they are capable of.”

Saunders is currently enrolled in the doctoral program through the University of Seattle’s School of Higher Education Leadership Administration.

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College welcomes Dr. David Kommer as its new Dean for the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Kommer was raised in Los Angeles, Calif., and spent 10 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District. He moved to Ohio in 1995 and began working as an assistant professor of education for Ashland University. He retired in 2016, but, as he has said, “I learned retirement was a job I didn’t enjoy.”

“After four decades in education, I know for sure that education is a reliable path to personal and economic success,” Dr. Kommer said. “I also know that education changes rapidly, with more distance and online classes. The challenge is for education to maintain a personal touch. That’s the key to teaching, even if students may not be in the same room. It is my hope to work with the talented faculty and staff at Southern to bring this new era of learning to a reality.”

“Dr. Kommer brings with him a wealth of knowledge, and a vast cache of experience – having taught everything from private schools to inner-city schools.” Southern’s President, Dr. Robert Gunter, said. “He will give us a unique perspective as Southern continues to traverse through ever-changing technology and educational needs in our local community. I look forward to working with him to help our college – and our community – grow.”

Dr. Kommer earned his Doctor of Education degree from Pepperdine University. He and his wife, Cookie, are the proud parents of four children, 16 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.