Happy holidays and season’s greetings. It’s my pleasure to pen this piece for the readers of My Buckhannon. My hope is that this regular column will provide a connection between West Virginia Wesleyan College and the broader community. This college is always strongest when we are serving North Central West Virginia, and I’m so excited that we’re leaning into this space.
A theme of ours at WVWC has been service. This is something that’s deeply connected to our mission and to our identity as an institution of higher learning that is affiliated with the United Methodist Church. We have been working on creating partnerships that will have benefits for years to come, especially right here in Buckhannon. I’d like to take a moment to lift some of those up.
You may have heard that we recently signed with Upshur County Schools to create the Grow Your Own program in an effort to do our part to address the teacher shortage. This partnership provides Upshur County high school juniors the opportunity to take college-level courses in preparation for completing a major in education. Successful graduates will be guaranteed employment as a full time teacher here in the county. By building on the historical strengths of our teacher training program, we hope to be a part of a solution to this issue.
Over the summer you may also have seen that the College signed an agreement with Art 26201 and the City of Buckhannon to provide expertise and resources to the Colonial Arts Center. This formal arrangement allows us to leverage our strength in arts education and administration for the benefit of the entire community, and we’re honored to do so. I know that we’ll all enjoy the comeback, so-to-speak, that performing arts are seeing as we emerge from the pandemic. WVWC is ready and willing to be involved in promoting a vibrant arts community here in Buckhannon.
These partnerships are the first of several that we’ll be rolling out in the coming weeks and months, and I believe that the sky’s the limit for all of us if we truly work to partner with intentionality.
Service takes on many forms here at WVWC, and none is more important than how we serve our students and how those students become members of the Buckhannon community. Since taking over as interim president, I’ve heard from so many community leaders, and everyone has one question that they always lead with — how’s enrollment at the college? I know that this question comes from the fact that Buckhannon leaders value our students as neighbors and community members.
It’s no secret that these are trying times for colleges and universities, especially in West Virginia. There are, to put it frankly, less and less college-aged students every year, and this shrinking pool has more options than ever before. But, we have decided that we are going to work to serve West Virginia students aggressively, and we’re seeing the fruits of this work during this enrollment period. There is a renewed interest in WVWC from West Virginia students, and we are actively working to make this college their top choice. So while we face strong headwinds in enrolling students, we’re seeing successes right here in our backyard. I firmly believe that this college will grow.
And as we confront the challenges of 2023, I want to state clearly that West Virginia Wesleyan College is going to be an important part of the Buckhannon community and our state for years to come. We are proud of where we are located, we believe in our mission, and we want to be the best version of ourselves for the state of West Virginia. Our faculty and staff are dedicated to this place, to our students, and to this community, and that will continue to drive us, day in, day out. As a life-long West Virginian, I’ve always felt that WVWC embodies the best of the Mountain State, and as long as we keep this at the heart of our efforts, I know we’ll be successful.
As this monthly column unfolds, I’ll use this as a space to talk about lots of things related to the College and to higher education in general. But for this first offering, I wanted to give you all a window into what our priorities have been in the past year or so, and to let you know that we are so grateful to be a part of the Buckhannon community. Thanks for all of your support, and best wishes in 2023.