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WVU-P gets political with candidates

March 30, 2011
Michael Erb

PARKERSBURG - Over the years West Virginia University at Parkersburg has seen more than its share of politicians visiting and campaigning in the Mid-Ohio Valley.

Jim Sprouse, chairman of the state Democratic Party, campaigned at the college in 1968 as part of his run for state governor. Sprouse visited then-Parkersburg Community College, meeting with some of the school's first Young Democrats members.

Sprouse lost his bid for governor that year to Arch Moore, but continued to be active in state politics, losing a Democratic party nomination for governor in 1976.

In 1979 Sprouse was appointed as a judge of the 4th Circuit United States Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter.

The same year Sprouse was campaigning for governor, Jay Rockefeller visited the college as the Democratic candidate for West Virginia Secretary of State, an election he won. During his visit, Rockefeller urged the state's Democratic party to make more effort in reaching out to area college students and encouraging them to participate in the state's political process.

Both Rockefeller and Moore gave speeches during the dedication of WVU-Parkersburg Center in 1969 to a crowd of 2,000 community members

Rockefeller now serves West Virginia as a U.S. Senator and continues to be one of the college's biggest proponents.

In 1976, former California Gov. Ronald Reagan visited the college while campaigning for the Republican presidential candidate nomination. Reagan lost the bid that year to Gerald Ford at the Republican National Convention. In 1981 Reagan became the 40th President of the United States.

Reagan wasn't the only presidential hopeful to visit the college.

In 2004 John Edwards, then a North Carolina senator and Democratic candidate for vice president in that year's presidential election, spoke at the school. Edwards held a town hall, invitation-only meeting in the college's multipurpose room. The event brought together more than 500 community members and was broadcast on local television stations and covered by the media.

Edwards and running mate John Kerry lost the election to President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

In 2005 Bush spoke at WVU-P after stopping in Parkersburg to tour the Public Debt building.

Though Bush's main purpose in coming to the area was to talk about reforms to the country's Social Security system, he did take a few minutes to praise the college and the idea behind community colleges.

"I'm a strong believer in the community college system around our country, because I understand that the community college system is a ... provides a great opportunity for many of our young and for many of our workers to gain the skills necessary to fill the jobs of the 21st century," he said. "The community college system provides a wonderful opportunity for states and communities to say to potential employers, we have got a fantastic asset in our midst to make sure that the workers can fill the jobs that you desire."



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