Tuesday marked the official ground-breaking day of construction and maintenance for the University of Charleston after it took over Mountain State University just as people were ringing in the new year.
The smell of blue paint being replaced with maroon and gold on the walls wasn't the only thing being done Tuesday. They were busy replacing banners on South Kanawha Street, taking down marble slabs out in front, and doing light reconstruction inside some buildings.
Regional President Jerry Forrester is welcoming UC with open arms.
"We are cultivating the relationship with the Beckley community. This is still Beckley's college. So we need this community to embrace it like they have for Beckley College, College of West Virginia, Mountain State University, so we want to make sure there's ownership here for the community and the students," said UC Regional President Jerry Forrester.
Forrester said UC-Beckley will focus on all the programs previously held by Mountain State. He says they'll also usher in those programs from Charleston. They are exploring a more international presence such as English as a second language. He says this diverse mix will serve the region well.
He explains what will happen to all the buildings of the former MSU.
"We are currently leasing the majority of the buildings from Mountain State University, we do not own any of the buildings. and they'll have to go through their course with the lawsuits and their corporation will continue to exist for a couple more years," Forrester said.
Although faced with a challenge, Forrester is very optimistic about what's ahead for UC-Beckley.
"This is a unique challenge, I'm excited about it and I'm also aware of the challenge that's here. It won't happen overnight, it's a lot of work to be done. Dr. Welch and his senior staff as well as the Beckley faculty and staff are up for it," he said.
Director of Facility and Services Gary Boyd believes the new school will be a positive for students as well as the community.
"I think the transition represents hope, and to me that hope of having a campus in Beckley that's going to thrive and survive is more important and hopefully the students see the promise in that," Gary Boyd said.
The University of Charleston has also taken over guardianship of the Martinsburg, WV campus.