The process of identifying training programs is underway as plans have started for the construction of a new Technology Center at the Williamson Campus of Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. The facility will be constructed through bond funding as designated by Governor Joe Manchin III and the West Virginia Legislature.
Southern President Joanne Jaeger Tomblin, accompanied by members of the college's leadership team, met last week with representatives from MBAJ Architecture and ET Boggess to discuss the vision for the project. The group reviewed training programs that are being planned for the new technology facility as well as the actual construction site which is located adjacent to the main campus building.
"This is going to be a technologically designed facility which will provide students with hands-on training to prepare them for the jobs of the future," President Tomblin said. "This project is one that the Tug Valley community can be proud of and its design will change the way students will learn in the future."
A ground-breaking ceremony is planned for late spring or early summer of 2010.
"We continue to work closely with Major General Allen Tackett on the acquisition of the National Guard Armory property. The College still intends to purchase the Armory when it becomes available, however, due to the timing of the bond funds, the College will need to begin construction and complete the new facility within three years of receiving the funds. That is why we are building a new facility on property that the college already owns," President Tomblin explained.
During the 2007 West Virginia Legislative session, the legislature agreed to the sale of bonds for the purpose of constructing new campuses and technology facilities for the state's community and technical colleges. Southern is scheduled to receive between $6 and $8 million dollars for the construction of the technical facility at its Williamson Campus.
Some of the training programs being considered for the new Technology Center include industrial vehicle maintenance, welding and electricity, vehicle operation training and robotic automation technology. College officials are also planning to create a professional testing center where students may complete all state licensure examinations, such as M-CAT, etc.
President Tomblin said the goal is to create a facility with a flexible design, allowing for training to be kept current and programs interchanged as necessary. Before plans are finalized, President Tomblin said she would be asking for input from the faculty and staff at the WiIliamson Campus.
"We are planning to serve a much larger region here, including our neighboring counties in Kentucky," President Tomblin said.
New programs currently being offered at the Williamson Campus include Respiratory Care Technology and a certificate program in Electrocardiology (EKG). The college also houses a day care center on campus which has helped numerous students with their children as they attend classes, according to Williamson Campus Director Rita Roberson.
The West Virginia Community and Technical College System, which Southern is a part of, has focused their efforts on the recruitment of adult learners and retraining the current workforce.
"The new technology center in Williamson will assist the College in attaining these goals. Community and technical colleges have the technology and the curriculum to train workers quickly at an affordable cost, and we are excited to do so," President Tomblin said.
Even though Southern's enrollment is expected to increase this year, President Tomblin pointed out that southern West Virginia still has the lowest college going rate in the state. Dr. Cindy McCoy, dean for university transfer programs, continues to visit area schools in an effort to increase that number by offering dual credit classes, which affords students the opportunity to earn college credit for classes they are taking in high school.
The college's Foundation also helps, by providing scholarships for qualifying students in southern West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. The Southern Foundation distributed $142,000 in scholarship monies last year alone, and is expected to increase this year, President Tomblin said.
Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College offers many degree and certificate programs in its Career and Technical Division, including Allied Health, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, Information Technology, Mine Management, and Survey Technology. The University Transfer Division offers degrees that prepare students to transfer into upper division programs at four year colleges and universities. Southern operates four campuses and two sites located in Boone, Logan, Lincoln, Mingo, Raleigh and Wyoming counties. Kentucky students residing in Pike, Martin, Boyd and Lawrence counties are eligible for in-state tuition rates.
The college's web site is www.southernwv.edu and the toll free number is 1-866-798-2821.