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Mountain State Officials Shift Focus to Accreditation Suit

BECKLEY, W.Va. — Officials with the former Mountain State University are shifting their attention to a lawsuit against an accrediting body following West Virginia University’s offer to buy the school’s Beckley campus.

Mountain State officials wanted to ensure the campus was in good hands before focusing on the lawsuit, trustee Elmer Coppoolse told The Register-Herald.

“It’s time to set the record straight,” he said.

Mountain State closed after the Higher Learning Commission withdrew the school’s primary accreditation in June 2012. The university sued the commission in May 2014, alleging that the accrediting body didn’t follow its policies, rules and practices when it revoked the accreditation.

“We have always believed that the loss of accreditation was completely unjust,” Coppoolse said. “We were never given due process, never given time to implement solutions that might have been desirable.”

In revoking the accreditation, the commission had cited the private university’s failure to correct major problems in leadership, program evaluations and campuswide governance.

Mountain State’s lawsuit, filed in federal court, said the commission’s decision was arbitrary and unreasonable, and its investigation was insufficient.

The commission has asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit. In a court filing, the commission said Mountain State failed to assert sufficient facts to maintain a majority of its claims, and failed to identify the policies that the school alleges the commission violated.

Also, Mountain State’s request for re-accreditation is moot, the filing said.

The case is scheduled to go to trial in August.

Scott Rose, a former Mountain State student, said he was 12 credit hours away from graduation when the university lost its accreditation. He said a teach-out offered by the University of Charleston did not help him because his degree program was not offered at the Beckley campus.

“By my age, most people either have a four-year degree or four to six years of work experience. MSU’s closing has left me without either and it’s made the job market hard for me to get into,” Rose told the newspaper.

The University of Charleston took over Mountain State’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg so students could complete their degrees. UC plans to move out of the Beckley facilities at the end of the 2014-2015 academic year.

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