Mountain State University

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Mountain State University
Type Private University
President Dr. Richard E. Sours
Students 8,200
Location Beckley, West Virginia, United States
Athletics Cougars
Colors Blue and Silver          

Mountain State University (MSU) was a private nonsectarian not-for-profit university based in Beckley, West Virginia, United States. The university ceased to operate effective January 1, 2013. All degrees conferred on or before December 31, 2012 are valid and were received from an accredited institution.[1] MSU had previously listed as one of the best universities in the Southeast by the The Princeton Review. The school had also been named a Military Friendly school by G.I. Jobs.[2]

The University of Charleston established campuses on MSU's former Beckley and Martinsburg, West Virginia locations, but plans to vacate each respective premises after the 2014-15 academic year.[3] On December 31, 2014, West Virginia University announced that it would purchase MSU’s former Beckley campus for $8 million.[4]


The university was founded in 1933 as Beckley College, a junior college, and continued as such until 1991, when it achieved four-year status and was renamed The College of West Virginia. In 2001, the school was renamed Mountain State University.[5]


The university offered more than 60 undergraduate, master's, and certificate programs, as well as a doctoral degree program. Most of the university's programs focused on the professions in business, technology, and health and human services. Many of MSU's degree programs were available online.

College Preparatory School[edit]

From 2002 to 2010, Mountain State University operated a private college preparatory school from grades K-12 known as The Academy at Mountain State University, or Mountain State Academy, in Beckley, West Virginia. The school was permanently closed in August 2010. The Academy's basketball team, which was nicknamed the Falcons, defeated nationally ranked Oak Hill Academy.


Mountain State University competed as a member of the Kentucky Intercollegiate Athletic Conference of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics with men's basketball, women's volleyball, men's and women's soccer teams and cheerleading. Track and cross country were added for the 2008-09 season. Its teams were nicknamed the Cougars.

MSU won the 2004 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Mountain State was the National Runner-Up in the 2003 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. Additionally, the Cougars were the National Runner-Up in the 2008 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament and in the 2011 NAIA Men's Division I Basketball Tournament. MSU advanced to the final four in 2012.

Controversy and closure[edit]

Former president[edit]

Mountain State University's former president, Dr. Charles H. Polk, is widely credited for much of the school's previous success. However, many blamed Polk along with his senior administration and MSU's Board of Trustees when the university began facing issues over its continued accreditation. Polk and MSU's Board of Trustees have been named as defendants in over 200 pending lawsuits arising out of the loss of the university's accreditation (a proposed settlement has been reached).[6]

In 2009, Polk received over $1.8 million in compensation. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Polk was the sixth-highest-paid private-college president in the country that year.[7]

On January 19, 2012, Dr. Jerry Ice, former Chairman of Mountain State University's Board of Trustees, announced the termination of Polk's employment as president of Mountain State University. Dr. Richard E. Sours was chosen to replace Polk as interim president until the university's closing.

Loss of accreditation and aftermath[edit]

On June 28, 2012, the Higher Learning Commission, the regional accrediting authority for the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, withdrew the accreditation of Mountain State University, effective August 27, 2012.[8] The date was subsequently extended until December 31, 2012 to allow the university to 'teach out' those students close to graduation.

On August 1, 2012, the University of Charleston (UC) announced that they would assist MSU in the 'teach-out' process, and would admit any MSU student in good standing who chose to attend UC. UC also announced that it would establish new four-year campuses on the Beckley and Martinsburg sites, to be known as the University of Charleston-Beckley and University of Charleston-Martinsburg, respectively.

On August 6, 2012, MSU's Board of Trustees formally appealed the withdrawal of MSU's accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission. On December 18, 2012, the Appeals Panel voted to sustain the Commission's action. MSU's regional accreditation terminated on December 31, 2012.[9] All degrees conferred by MSU on or before this date are valid and are fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. MSU closed effective January 1, 2013.

In May 2014, the Mountain State University Board of Trustees filed a lawsuit against the Higher Learning Commission seeking to restore the university's accreditation.[10]

On August 13, 2014, UC announced that a settlement had been reached between itself, MSU, and the plaintiffs in various lawsuits arising out of the loss of MSU's accreditation.[11] MSU's insurance company will pay $8.5 million, and MSU will liquidate all of its remaining assets. The settlement was given preliminary court approval on October 6, 2014.[12]


External links[edit]