Mountain State University
||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (March 2013)|
|Mountain State University|
|President||Dr. Richard E. Sours|
|Location||Beckley, West Virginia, United States|
|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. 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.
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.
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
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
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).
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
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. 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. All degrees conferred by MSU on or before this date are vaild 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.
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. MSU's insurance compmany will pay $8.5 million, and MSU will liquidate all of its remaining assets. The settlement is subject to court approval. It is unclear if Polk or the MSU Board of Trustees will be required to personally contribute to this fund. MSU's lawsuit against the Higher Learning Commission remains pending.