A bill introduced in West Virginia’s House of Delegates would combine Fairmont State University and Pierpont Community & Technical College — two institutions that share a campus and have an intertwined history with each other dating back to the community college being established at Fairmont State College in 1974.
Lawmakers introduced the bill Monday, although it has previously been discussed in recent weeks. Fairmont State released a statement in support of the merger, saying it would allow the unified institution to “provide all students in the region a comprehensive education that enhances the educational experience in an accessible manner that removes barriers for continuing education,” according to WVNews.
But an email Pierpont’s board chair, president and student government association president sent to lawmakers reportedly listed reasons the merger would not be a good idea. Concerns listed included potential layoffs and damage to workforce education programs.
“Given that FSU’s drive to have this legislation enacted is purely financial in our assessment, we believe community college students in North Central West Virginia will face increased tuition and additional fees due to housing costs,” the email said, according to WVNews. “Thereby creating greater financial barriers to college access and a quality technical education.”
Pierpont was created as Fairmont State Community College in 1974 under state legislation allowing state colleges to offer vocational and technical training schools as divisions, according to Times West Virginian, which published an article last month, when talk of the merger was bubbling, that details the history of different relationships between Pierpont and Fairmont State. The community college was renamed Pierpont in 2006.
The community college and state university have been separated and knit back together in the past. They were most recently separated in 2008. A Pierpont history details several steps the college has taken since then to make its operations independent of Fairmont State.