Pierpont Community & Technical College opens new Vet Tech facility

May 10—CLARKSBURG — Pierpont Community and Technical College has officially moved all but one of its programs off Fairmont State University property.

Tuesday morning, Pierpont officials and Clarksburg dignitaries joined together to officially dedicate Pierpont's newly-constructed Veterinary Technology education facility next door to the Gaston Caperton Center in downtown Clarksburg.

Previously, the Vet Tech program was housed in the bottom floor of Hunt Haught Hall on Fairmont State's Locust Avenue campus in a space that was retrofitted to meet accreditation standards.

Now the faculty and students will enjoy a space built specifically to meet their needs and requirements.

The building was formerly an eye doctor's office but sat vacant for several years before Pierpont purchased it in 2021. The college planned renovations that left the building's footprint at around 4,000 square-feet.

"We basically doubled the size of the overall building," Pierpont CFO Dale Bradley said. "I think we've given this program a very, very nice facility."

The total cost of the renovations was initially estimated at $1.7 million, but pandemic-related complications on top of inflation pushed the project nearly $1 million over the original budget to a final cost of $2.5 million.

But despite some grumbles over finances, all in attendance were impressed by the final product.

Students will have a full examination room, surgical suite, washing station for the animals, outdoor kennels, classroom space and office space for the faculty.

While on the Fairmont State campus, the Vet Tech program was in an aging building that wasn't really meant for this purpose.

The goal was to get the new facility as close to what the students will experience once on the job in an official veterinary clinic. Providing students with experiences that mirror the field's professionals experience is a key tenet of career and technical education.

Pierpont School of Health Sciences Dean Amy Cunningham made sure the faculty members with the Vet Tech program were heavily involved with the planning and construction of the new facility.

"It's so important to have [students] in an atmosphere where they're going to learn what is basically their own veterinary clinic," Cunningham said. "The students here can learn hands-on, then when they get out on the job and in their practicums, they'll already have that experience and can take off running once they get a job."

In the last few weeks, accreditors from the Higher Learning Commission and the American Veterinary Medical Association toured the new facility and gave rave reviews.

Pierpont Board Chair David Hinkle has kept a tight grasp on the college's finances since his appointment to the board of governors. While overseeing the moves of Pierpont's programs off of Fairmont State property, he's been frugal with the institution's finances, but gave this project wiggle room.

"Two years ago, we came out here and signed papers for this building and I got to observe and hear what [Pierpont] thought the future of this building looked like," Hinkle said. "I have to say after walking around the old building and what I see today I'm shocked and I can't believe what's here."

With Vet Tech officially moving into its own facility and accepting students in the new building in the fall semester, Pierpont has new relocated three of the four major programs that were housed on Fairmont State property. Early Childhood Education, Culinary Arts and Vet Tech all have their own new facilities.

The final program that will need to be relocated is Pierpont's Aviation Maintenance programs, which are currently based at the Robert C. Byrd National Aerospace Education Center on the campus of the North Central West Virginia Airport.

In the formal separation agreement between Fairmont State and Pierpont, the NAEC was to totally belong to Fairmont State. Pierpont is planning to construct a new 64,000 square-foot facility specifically for Aviation Maintenance and is currently raising funds for the $22 million project.

Reach David Kirk at 304-367-2522 or by email at dkirk@timeswv.com.