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Ohio Valley University Loses Degree-Granting Capacity Following Decision to Close | News, Sports, Jobs

On Wednesday, a water tower named after Ohio Valley University stands next to the dorms. (Photo by Evan Bevins)

VIENNA – Ohio Valley University’s ability to confer degrees was revoked due to a vote by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission on Friday morning after the institution was placed on academic probation in 2020 and failed not met the conditions to maintain accreditation.

Earlier this week, OVU officials decided to shut down operations and not offer classes in the spring of 2022. President Michael Ross said the school administration had tried to find different solutions and had contacted her sister school to see if she could acquire college, to no avail.

“We have discovered every stone. We made what we thought was the best decision with a level of integrity ”, he said.

HEPC sent a letter to Ross in July 2020 saying the university was placed on academic probation “Mainly for financial reasons” and that the institution was to provide a monthly report of enrollments, financial status and any other relevant information, the letter said.

In August 2021, the Higher Education Commission sent a letter to Ross saying it had received a complaint that raised “Potential problems” concerning the university’s capacity to “Provide support for student learning and resources for effective teaching”.

OVU was requested to provide a formal response to the HLC detailing “Appropriate evidence demonstrating that the institution continues to meet the above requirement in the light of the complaint”, the letter said, and school officials had 30 days to do so.

In October, the HLC sent another letter saying it had yet to receive a response and “Determined that further assessment of the establishment’s compliance with HLC requirements is necessary”, said the letter.

The HLC then carried out a campus tour last month to “Review and validate” the institution’s compliance and a letter says OVU “May not be in compliance with several membership obligations” because he did not respond to the August 2021 letter, did not submit signed apprenticeship agreements for approval by HLC, and did not make the payment of annual dues which at the time , were about 120 days past due, according to the letter.

Students, parents and staff reported problems to the commission office in October and “Issues raised ranged from the inability of the institution to provide transcripts to failure of the institution, for months, to pay employees for work performed” according to the documents provided by the HEPC.

During a meeting with the members of the commission, the officials of the OVU “Confirmed that the reported issues were accurate and ongoing”, the documents said. The OVU administration also said that server issues preventing the institution from producing transcripts started last summer and the school’s payroll issues started during the year. school 2020-2021.

Ohio Valley University has also confirmed that due to persistent issues with its server, its data on student and institution performance was not delivered within the timeframe set to the United States Department of Education, as the ‘require the purposes of federal responsibility “, the documents said.

The HEPC said OVU officials expected a donation on Nov. 3 to be used to repair the server and pay employees. In the initial letter from HEPC in July 2020, another donation was mentioned. OVU officials said they received 130,000 acres of land with an assessed value of $ 4 million, which the institution said would improve the overall financial situation, the letter said.

Although the status of the land offered is unknown at this time, the HEPC said the OVU had not provided any confirmation that it had received the donation it expected on November 3. At the HEPC meeting on Friday morning, Ross said a donor provided the money to the institution. he must pay the employees what is owed to them.

On November 29, members of the Board of the Office of the Financial Aid and the West Virginia Network visited the OVU to assess the situation of the server and the financial aid and they “Found that there is not enough experience in the financial aid office, the treasurer’s office or the IT office of the OVU to help pull the OVU out of its current offspring” the documents said.

Financial aid employees were “Rely on handwritten paper records and know only cumulative student data, not specific data needed to create transcripts or other essential student records” the documents said.

As for the servers, they were faulty due to a power surge and the documents indicated that the data was there, that it just could not be viewed. PowerCampus, the software that the institution uses for student data and records, has been broken and it “Had not been updated for seven years, and Ellucian, the company that supplies PowerCampus, will not update it for OVU at this point until OVU pays for the seven years it has did not use Ellucian’s services ” the documents said.

From the commission’s perspective, no further action will be taken regarding the Ohio Valley, spokeswoman Jessica Tice said. Questions regarding school finances were referred to the college. College calls cannot go through.

At Friday’s HEPC meeting, Ross said the server had been fixed and the transcripts could be administered at the college’s college fair on Friday afternoon.

“As of (Thursday) PowerCampus is running on another and it is being installed on our server today. Cautious optimism is that we will be able to withdraw these transcripts (Friday) afternoon ”, he said.

Ross said state and out-of-state colleges and universities at Friday’s college fair understood the situation and would help accommodate students with their limited records.

About 30 OVU seniors are expected to graduate in the spring and Ross said they could graduate, but it’s not clear whether classes will be completed at the college for seniors. Teaching plans have been submitted to the HLC and are under review, Ross said.

For those who needed to find a new school to complete their studies, however, a plethora of colleges were in attendance at the University Fair Friday to speak to the students.

Michael Hoard of Marshall University said his recruiting office is currently taking preliminary transcripts and will require official documents once the service returns online.

“It’s a bit of a dark fair, but at Marshall we are delighted to work with students and invite them to answer all of their questions. “ said Hoard.

It was noted that the students attending the fair had very good attitudes from several colleges in attendance.

“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for the students” said Sarah Palelis of Appalachian Bible College.

Harding University in Arkansas, the sister university of the OVU, also sent representatives.

“It is a very sad day for all of us”, said Dana Steil, representative of the Harding School. “We have had a close relationship with them for many years and it is sad to see them close their doors.”

Sam Dugdon, an OVU student who attended the fair, said he really appreciated the school taking the time to host the college fair amid all of its current struggles.

“It really shows the care they pay to their students, working to help us until the end” he said.

Ross said what makes OVU special is the legacy it leaves and will continue through the lives of the people and the community it has served for so long.

“It continues to transform me every day and it will be something that will have a lasting effect in the state of West Virginia and in higher education in our great state,” he said.

Journalist Jess Mancini also contributed to the story.

Candice Black can be contacted at [email protected] and Madeline Scarborough at [email protected]

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