Ohio Valley University’s governing board has, on its own accord, decided to stop offering classes next semester. The last day of classes is Friday.
That’s according to a letter from the private Christian school that the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission provided to the Gazette-Mail.
“I am writing to inform you that the Board of Trustees for Ohio Valley University met last night [Monday],” school president Michael Ross wrote in the letter. “Unfortunately, it is with regret and sorrow that we decided we will not be offering classes in the Spring Semester 2022. We find ourselves in an extremely difficult financial situation and know that we have work to do to complete the current semester.”
The university said in a statement Wednesday that it “will be working on a detailed plan with several of our sister institutions,” plus the Higher Learning Commission and the Higher Education Policy Commission, “on next steps.”
The school said there will be a college fair from 1-4 p.m. Friday on campus.
“OVU strives to be an institution that conducts business with integrity while being good stewards of our resources,” the statement said. “Our current situation precludes us from fulfilling those intentions in a satisfactory way. Although much progress was made, it has not been enough for us to continue to operate with integrity.
“As we struggled through this process, we have focused on the following scripture. ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways submit to Him and He will make your paths straight.’ Proverbs 3:5-6.”
The roughly 60-year-old Wood County university, which is associated with the Churches of Christ, had been struggling financially for years. In summer 2020, a multistate college accrediting agency called the Higher Learning Commission put the school on probation over its lack of resources.
This past summer, something apparently took down its servers.
Since then, current and former students have been unable to get transcripts to confirm the degrees, credits and grades they have earned there — something needed to transfer to other schools and to get jobs. About 170 students are enrolled in the school.
An unknown proportion of employees also have missed paychecks or haven’t been paid at all since the server issue. Ross said the server issue also caused problems with providing federal financial aid to students.
The university board’s decision comes ahead of the state Higher Education Policy Commission’s Friday meeting. As reflected in the agenda for that meeting, that agency’s leaders had planned to recommend their own board revoke the school’s right to award degrees and bar it from accepting new or returning students in the spring.
The agency’s proposed revocation of degree-granting power would not have been effective until June 30, which would have allowed seniors to complete their degrees at the school, if they chose to. Those seniors would have been the only students allowed to return.
But the university’s decision to end classes in the spring seems to mean that not even seniors can complete their degrees there.
“We do not make this decision lightly and realize the work ahead to meet the needs of our students is priority,” Ross wrote in the letter. “We will continue to work on teach-out plans and communicate the path to all constituents.”