WHEELING - Local public and private West Virginia colleges and universities are making efforts to recruit students from Mountain State University after the institution announced it will lose its accreditation.
Mountain State University, based in Beckley, W.Va., is the first college in Mountain State history to have its primary accreditation revoked.
The Higher Learning Commission granted the university an extension to the end of 2012 while an appeal is heard, meaning the university will stay open and accredited until Dec. 31. The extension will give students time to consider transferring to other schools if the appeal is not successful.
Representatives from Bethany College, Wheeling Jesuit University and West Liberty University have made trips to transfer fairs and participated in inquiry sessions for Mountain State students in Beckley and Martinsburg, W.Va.
"It was mostly a group effort to help these students," said Jonathan Yacoviello, assistant director of enrollment management for Bethany College. "A lot of these students had trouble figuring out where to go. A lot of them were having trouble financially and just trying to find the right direction."
Yacoviello said a lot of the Mountain State University students who needed help were graduate students in very specific fields who were about to begin their last year of school. He reported that many were physician assistant students or studying other medical fields. He said Bethany offers a pre-medical program that would potentially allow Mountain State students to finish their schooling at Bethany.
Yacoviello could not confirm if any Mountain State students had transferred to Bethany at this time.
"In the next couple of weeks, we might pick up some students," he said.
Richard Beyer, president of Wheeling Jesuit University, said the Wheeling Jesuit admissions office is working with the transfer students depending on their program of interest. He said the school is making itself available to any Mountain State University student interested in completing a traditional undergraduate degree, a master's in nursing or a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership and development, which is an adult degree completion program.
"Most important for students is their path to graduation, and our academic department is quite aware of students that are interested in transferring," Beyer said. "What we try to do is be sensitive to those students so we can give them a clear path for understanding their graduation requirements here at Wheeling Jesuit."
West Liberty University also indicated it is prepared to assist transfer students.
"West Liberty University has followed the news of Mountain State University's accreditation problem and is concerned about students searching for options. We have reached out as appropriate, following all suggestions from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and offering assistance to these students at recent inquiry sessions. We've responded to inquiries and are ready to offer MSU's students seeking to transfer all the help they might need," Maureen Zambito, director of media relations, said.
Mountain State University's formal appeal of the accreditation decision is due Aug. 6, starting a months-long process that will decide the fate of the school.