The State of West Virginia's Higher Education Collaborative: The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center
The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, located at 300 University Drive in Beaver, WV, was established in 2007 to provide higher education opportunities to the citizens of southern West Virginia. Dedicated to the late Erma Byrd on October 8, 2007, the Center is the state's first higher education collaborative and is home to Bluefield State College, Concord University, and Marshall University. Constructed by ZMM Architects & Engineers, the 33,000 SF center provides students the convenience of taking a variety of college classes offered by different colleges and universities in a single location. The facility consists of standard classrooms, distance learning classrooms, a science lab, computer classroom, a lecture hall, a multi-media library along with administrative office space for each college and university.
The Center provides students with the convenience of driving to a single location, exploring several different college and university degree program options, enrolling in a degree program, and completing that degree at the same location. The goal of the Center is to strengthen the economy of southern West Virginia through the creation of an educated citizenry that will meet the needs of business and industry. Through the unique collaboration of three colleges and the future joining of New River Community and Technical College, this University Drive Higher Education Complex will provide different degree offerings ranging from that of a Certificate up to and including a Master's degree.
The building itself is an educational tool equipped with a wind turbine and solar panels that assist in reducing the overall utility cost. This Higher Education Facility sets a new standard for the learning environment and energy efficiency. The building is designed to maximize use of natural light and has sensors throughout that control the artificial light level by measuring the amount of light present in the space. The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center is the first collaborative in the State of West Virginia; and has proven to be successful since its inception in 2007.
In the Fall of 2015, a second collaborative opened its' doors adjacent to the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center known as The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission's Allied Health Wing. The new Wing is home to Bluefield State College, Concord University, and New River Community & Technical College and is utilized for the allied health fields only. The state of the art facility includes designated program laboratories and space, a shared conference room, four shared classrooms, and a shared faculty work area (which includes two faculty/student meeting rooms). Students have the opportunity to complete programs in Nursing, Radiologic Technology, Emergency Medical Technology (EMT), Laboratory Technology, and Medical Assisting. The Allied Health Wing is yet another example of an higher education collaborative (in southern West Virginia) working to meet the existing need for more health care workers.
The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission's Allied Health Wing (both) are managed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.