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West Virginia University at Parkersburg celebrates downtown facility

A ribbon cutting was held Wednesday at the West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s Center for Civic Engagement at 414 Market St. in downtown Parkersburg. Pictured are Jill Parsons of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, WVU-P President Chris Gilmer, Senta Goudy, Dean of the Center for Civic Engagement and Innovation, WVU-P Board of Governors Vice Chairman Steve Hardman and Wendy Shriver with Downtown PKB. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — A virtual ribbon cutting was held Wednesday for the West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s new Center for Civic Engagement in downtown Parkersburg.

Due to ongoing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was held virtually on the Facebook pages of WVU-P and the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley, with only a select few individuals attending in person.

The center, located at 414 Market St., is a means to be a bridge between the school and the community where people can come and work together to bring opportunities for students and area businesses to work together, according to officials. It includes almost 5,000-square-feet.

“WVU-P is a vibrant and energetic member of the Chamber of Commerce,” said Jill Parsons, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley. “We are excited for this new opportunity for them.”

Officials said the owners of the building, RVP Properties LLC, worked with the college to put the center together.

West Virginia University at Parkersburg marked the official opening of its Center for Civic Engagement at 414 Market St. in downtown Parkersburg on Wednesday. Pictured are Torie Jackson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and President and CEO of WVU-P Foundation; Ricky the Riverhawk; Wendy Shriver of Downtown PKB; WVU-P President Chris Gilmer; Jill Parsons, President and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Mid-Ohio Valley; Senta Goudy, Dean of the Center for Civic Engagement and Innovation; Rachel Poling of RVP Properties LLC; and Steve Hardman, Vice Chairman of the WVU-P Board of Governors. (Photo Provided)

WVU-P President Chris Gilmer said the most important word in “community college” is “community.”

“When I came here over two years ago, I said we were going reinvest in this community in every way possible,” he said. “This is a tangible expression of our reinvestment in Parkersburg, Vienna, Wood County and all of the counties in our service area.”

The center will be a place where students can come learn, do internships and more. The community will also be able to make use of the space as the West Virginia Center for Civic Life and the Community Substance Abuse Coalition are also located at the center.

Gilmer expressed his wish that he would have liked 200 people present, but doing the virtual ceremony shows how seriously the university is taking the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senta Goudy, Dean of the Center for Civic Engagement and Innovation, said she is excited to have the center open and operational.

The center highlights both the college and the community, including student, faculty and community artwork as well as other cultural aspects of the community, local museums and more. It also features a conference meeting room, a training resource room (which is available to the community by appointment) and space where people can come and do work when they are not at the main campus. The center also has many pictures of students from the college.

“The place is a virtual showcase for the assets we have here in the community,” Goudy said. “We will be able to connect people to our students and to the members of our community.

“We are thrilled to be a part of downtown here in the middle of what is happening in the middle of the Mid-Ohio Valley. I hope people will come and enjoy the space with us.”

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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