Freelance piece for Image Associates, 6 hours from assignment to completion, August 14, 2008
New River Community and Technical College: Optimizing Homegrown Education and Career Opportunities
Serving Fayette, Greenbrier, Mercer, Monroe, Nicholas, Pocahontas, Raleigh, Summers, and Webster county residents for more than five years, New River Community and Technical College has brought higher education and training opportunities closer to home for thousands in Southern West Virginia.
Formed by the state Legislature in July 2003, New River Community and Technical College was independently accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools in 2005. The accreditation was reaffirmed in 2007.
At its campuses in Beckley, Beaver, Bluefield, Lewisburg, and Summersville, as well as off-site locations and online, New River Community and Technical College offers 10 Associate in Applied Science degree programs, 13 Associate in Science degree programs, an Associate in Arts degree, collegiate certificates, and collegiate skill set certificates.
Fields of study include accounting, information technology, medical assisting, nursing, fine arts, and many others. Career enhancement and special-interest classes are available, along with multigenerational programs such as Kids Kollege for public school students and the Elderhostel program for senior citizens.
New River Community and Technical College specializes in customized training, continuing education, and other programs specific to regional employers’ needs. These programs have benefited more than 60 area companies and 7,000 employees, strengthening the local economy by helping West Virginians find and retain high-quality careers in the Mountain State.
The college experienced a 33% increase in enrollment last year, a trend expected to continue with the addition of new facilities, programs, and courses.
New River was bolstered by a recent $16.5 million allocation from the Legislature. These funds have been earmarked toward constructing, renovating, and expanding campus buildings.
For example, the Bluefield campus will move from the site it shares with Bluefield State College to Princeton this fall. At the new Mercer County campus, the college will introduce its mechatronics program.
Incorporating the latest techniques in precision mechanical engineering, controls theory, computer science, and electronics, mechatronics is a design trend thriving in numerous manufacturing and fabrication industries in New River's nine-county service area.
Curriculum levels range from eight-hour, entry-level technician training to AAS degree programs.
"We want to create a strong technical presence in the Mercer County area,” said Greg Shrewsberry, interim dean of the Bluefield campus. “We feel it's vitally important to increase the number of technical programs...so when these students graduate, they can get jobs in the area.
"The mechatronics program was created to meet the ever-increasing need for more highly skilled employees. The reason it’s based in Mercer County is because we have one of the highest concentrations of manufacturing and industrial employers in Southern West Virginia,” he said.
"Ultimately, the purpose of the New River Community and Technical College at all our campuses, and certainly in Bluefield, is to provide a better-qualified workforce and produce a more competitive workforce across all industries, including health care, manufacturing, education, and service industries,” Shrewsberry said.
For more information about New River Community and Technical College, visit the college’s website, http://www.newriver.edu/, or call your nearest campus: Beckley/Raleigh County, 304-255-5812; Bluefield, 304-327-4071; Greenbrier Valley, 304-647-6560; or Nicholas County, 304-872-1236.