By Jim Ross, The State Journal
Mickey Reeves is president of the WVU Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association.
He is a native of Wheeling and graduated from Tech in 1978 with a bachelor of science degree in chemical engineering. He lives in Friendswood, Texas. Currently he is on assignment in Saudi Arabia.
Following is a Q-and-A interview conducted with Reeves by email.
How do you think Tech got into the problems it has now?
I believe Tech’s problems start with issues in the state of West Virginia. Tech needs students first and foremost. I went to Brooke High School in Brooke County. When I graduated from Brooke in 1974, the high school had over 2,000 students and a graduating class of over 500 students. Today, the student enrollment at Brooke is half the size as it was in the ‘70s. I believe this is the case in much of West Virginia. Smaller high school enrollments have resulted in a smaller pool of available students for Tech.
Tech enrollment in the ‘70s was nearly 3,000. Today it is approximately 1,200. Also, the campus looks much the same as it did when I went to the school there in the mid ‘70s. Lack of capital improvements has given the campus a dated look and adds to the difficulty of convincing students to attend Tech.
What do you think will be needed to turn the situation around?
Like I said, first and foremost, students! The enrollment needs to get to 2,000 so that the campus has a reasonable chance of sustaining itself financially. Also, the Tech Revitalization Plan needs to be funded by the Legislature.
And what kind of school should Tech become?
Tech should focus on what it has always done best — provide degree programs focusing on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). We also have a great opportunity to support the needs of companies investing in the shale gas development, both from the upstream drilling and gas processing side, and also on the downstream resultant chemical processing facilities that will come as a result of the shale gas. Tech has over 18,000 alumni that have proven the value of a Tech education, with many of us holding high positions with our respective companies.
How will the alumni association help in that?
The Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association organized last year after several years of inactivity. Over the past year, we have held events associated with commencement and homecoming. In 2012, we will repeat these events and also hold a major fundraiser to build an entryway sign on campus welcoming everyone to Tech. One of our goals is to get the alumni interested in their institution once again. If 5 percent of our alumni recommended one student per year, Tech’s enrollment problems would be a lot less of a problem. Our alumni can find us at www.alumni.wvutech.edu .
Is there something else that needs to be said about Tech?
Tech is a great educational institution with a reputation for providing a high quality education at reasonable cost. We are on the road to recovery, and I feel confident Tech will be around for years to come. We have dedicated alumni that are passionate about the institution. I am confident that Carolyn Long will turn things around, and she has the support of the Tech Golden Bear Alumni Association board of directors.