Three institutions of higher education in West Virginia's northern panhandle have reached a historic agreement to broaden academic support for students.
Bethany College, Wheeling University, and West Liberty University announced the agreement Thursday during a news conference at Wheeling University’s Erickson Alumni Center.
Billed as the first of its kind in West Virginia, the agreement will allow students at any of the three institutions to take one class each semester at one of the others for credit toward their degrees.
The presidents of each institution touted the benefits of such an agreement for students and, ultimately, for graduation rates at their respective colleges.
The Reverend Dr. Tamara Nichols Rodenberg of Bethany College emphasized the vocational advantage for students.
“This gives the student a much broader pool in which to swim and figure out who they are vocationally—who they want to be in life,” she said.
“The connection to a broader range of courses at partnering institutions is a key concept in our strategic plan, Bethany Connect. Serving students through connections is what Bethany College does best and we appreciate our partners in this.”
Ginny Favede, president of Wheeling University, acknowledged the struggles facing liberal arts colleges across the U.S. and called the new partnership an innovative solution.
“I’d like to think that this is an opportunity for those of us in West Virginia to show higher education what it means to be innovative and to work with others to benefit everyone,” Favede said.
The agreement extends to the fall and spring semesters only, and participating students will pay tuition only to their home school.
The collaboration between the leadership of the three schools and their registrars eliminates any extra cost to the student and the need to transfer credits.
“This serves the community as a whole,” Rodenberg said. “We should all be serving Brooke County, Ohio County, and beyond. Bethany College is delighted to be here.”
The three presidents expressed a willingness to work together in the future.
Dr. Stephen Greiner of West Liberty University said he looked forward to establishing a lasting relationship among the three institutions, all of which are located in the northern panhandle of West Virginia.
“Let’s not make this the last collaboration,” Greiner said. “Let’s make it the first of many collaboratives among the three institutions.”