History was made Thursday as friends and family of Alderson-Broaddus College watched as the Philippi institution graduated from a college to a university.
College officials met with Secretary of State Natalie Tennant at the West Virginia Capitol to officially announce a new name for the higher education school, Alderson Broaddus University.
"This may be the most important day in the history of the college," A-B President Dr. Richard Creehan said, adding that it has been 81 years since Alderson Academy and Broaddus College merged to form Alderson-Broaddus College. "Here we are again with another name change 81 years later."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, left, and university President Dr. Richard Creehan sign, seal and deliver the former Alderson-Broaddus College with the new name Alderson Broaddus University Thursday in Charleston.
Tennant said that the two colleges merged on June 18, 1932, in the Secretary of State's office. Almost exactly 81 years later, the college continues to make history. Tennant said she was honored to be part of this historic occasion.
"It is hard to tell the history of West Virginia without mentioning Philippi," Tennant said. "With the aggressive plans now in the works at Alderson-Broaddus, it is difficult to think of the future without mentioning this region of the state."
Alumni of the college have the option to purchase a new diploma reflecting the school's new name. Beginning this spring, all new diplomas will reflect the name change.
"Our faculty are innovators. They are people who are not afraid of change," Creehan said.
Provost Joan Propst said, "This is a dream come true. It's a pretty special event for our students. It's a bittersweet moment. It signals new initiatives, growth and opportunities."
Along with the name change comes the removal of the hyphen between Alderson and Broaddus. Officials said that the hyphen is no longer necessary because Alderson Broaddus University has rebranded itself with a new name.
Even without the hyphen, the new university's history and values will not change. Officials said those values will carry over into the school's future. In all, the school has a 143-year history, A-B Director of Marketing and Communications Ashley Mittelmeier said.
"We're very proud of our heritage and where we've come form," Mittelmeier said. "We can't know where we're going until we fully appreciate where we've come from. A lot of those attributes that make us so unique are going to be carried into the future with us."
While Thursday was a celebration of the newly named university's history and future, another celebration is planned for Sept. 2. Officials say a special announcement about possible new degree programs will be announced at that time.
While the name change alone is enough to make history for AB, enrollment numbers have broken records again this year with an anticipated 500 new students, Mittelmeier said.
Creehan said that the university will double its residential capacity this year with the addition of four new residential halls. He said the older residential halls will receive some cosmetic enhancements, including all new furniture, flooring, painting and walls that reduce noise from room to room. Benedum Hall also will receive air conditioning.
The AB Board of Trustees will meet in February to discuss the feasibility of converting the old Broaddus Hospital into a dual residential and academic facility. Creehan said it will take some time to conduct a feasibility study. Together with the senior administration of the university, the Board of Trustees will make a decision about the idea.
If the plan is found feasible, the College of Humanities and Social Science and the College of Business and Management would be targets for the move. Creehan also said it is the hope of the university to establish a center for entrepreneurship there.
"We want to do our part to be a jobs creator and an epicenter of economic development for central West Virginia," Creehan said. "It's our strong belief that teaching our students entrepreneurial studies will provide an incubator space and other assistance and allow them to own and start their own business. We should remember that Microsoft and Facebook were businesses that were started in a garage."