by Jeff Fox
Ever since the humble beginnings of the Parkersburg Branch of WVU in 1961, the institution of higher education has steadily grown. Originally, the school was located in an abandoned elementary school on Emerson Avenue in North Parkersburg. 104 students were enrolled in its first semester, and six faculty members. Since those early days, the school has gone through approximately nine major facilities upgrades or acquisitions.
Currently, major projects are underway at the main Parkersburg campus, as well as the new downtown Parkersburg campus, which is currently under construction. There is also a plan for new construction projects on the main Parkersburg campus later this year.
Dave White, the director of facilities and grounds for WVU Parkersburg recently spoke about both ongoing and upcoming projects. “Right now we are working on building a new IT Center. It’s going to be about a 2000 square foot area at a cost of approximately $110,000,” White said. This will involve moving the mainframe computer equipment from its current first floor location to the ground floor. The project also calls for new cabling closets throughout the campus, which will be linked by fiber optics to the new IT Center. Plans also include the installation of new cabling at the Caperton Center, through a joint venture with Wood County Schools.
Jeff Wilbur, the chief information officer for WVU Parkersburg, explained that the new network will expand access, improve integrity, and replace outdated network hardware. For students this will mean better wireless performance on campus, and improved efficiency for campus desktops. It will also allow for more demanding educational programming and improved video capabilities. Improvements are also being made at the Jackson County Center, and in the Expanded Access Programs, which utilize remote video conferencing to reach students in several off -campus rural locations.
Dave White explained, another-interesting project scheduled to begin this Spring, is work on the WVU Parkersburg theatre renovation. Plans call for energy efficient lighting, a new stage, a complete ceiling renovation, wall coverings, new floor coverings and a new ticket booth. White explained that the seating would be reused, and added that the theatre recently installed a new heating and cooling system, and curtains. When the work is complete it will represent a five-year investment of nearly $300,000. The theatre renovation will not only provide students with a state of the art performance area, but also greatly enhance one of the areas utilized by the general public.
White also spoke about work that is underway on the new WVU Parkersburg downtown Parkersburg campus. The majority of the work to this point has been demolition of the unneeded areas in the Market Street building, but the public will soon begin to see more noticeable improvements. Phoenix Construction was recently awarded the contract to renovate the building façade. Davis/Pickering Electrical will soon begin upgrading the electrical service, and bids are currently being accepted for an elevator and a new roof. The WVU Parkersburg downtown campus will have three floors and approximately 45,000 square feet of floor space.
This is first in a series of articles, which will detail facilities improvements at WVU Parkersburg.