The Times West Virginian

October 6, 2013

WVU known for more than beer and blazing couches

Times West Virginian

— Who doesn’t like to party?

Of course, the definition of “party” varies from person to person and could refer to a classy dinner party for foodies to try new and unique culinary combinations to all-out booze fests with blaring music, Red Solo Cups and endless supplies of a variety of alcoholic beverages to celebrate, well, you know, Saturday night.

And it is the latter, as opposed to the former, that Morgantown and West Virginia University are being known for these days, thanks to Playboy magazine and its ranking the top 10 party schools.

"The locals call Morgantown a drinking town with a football problem,'' the Playboy article said. "We call it a seven-year plan with the possibility of parole."

Wow. Just wow.

No mention of the fact that WVU offers almost 200 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional degree programs within its 14 colleges. No mention of the fact that the WVU School of Medicine in nationally recognized for its rural-health and primary-care fields of study.

According to information from WVU, "WVU has produced 24 Rhodes Scholars, 36 Goldwater Scholars, 22 Truman Scholars, five members of USA Today's All-USA College Academic first team, nine Boren Scholars, five Gilman Scholars, three Department of Homeland Security Scholars and 31 Fulbright Scholars (five in 2012 alone). WVU is among the top 15 public universities in the number of students earning Rhodes Scholarships."

The school has also been classified as a Research University by the Carnegie Foundation because of its high emphasis on research in areas that range from STEM education, health care in Appalachia, drilling for shale gas responsibly, investigating pulsars through radio astronomy and promoting stewardship of water resources, WVU reports.

And let's not forget that the FBI named WVU its national leader for biometric research and study.

We're not sure we could list the accolades WVU has earned since it was founded in 1867. But we can say that WVU has been an important part of this state practically since the state itself was formed.

So, it should be recognized for far, far more than beer and blazing couches.

Here in West Virginia, we all know that. But when a national magazine gives you a distinction like that, it's not just a black eye. It's something that perpetuates. It draws not only attention, but a student body who feel like they have to fulfill that designation, and worse, students who come to hit the party scene instead of hitting the books.

We wanted to know what our faithful readers who log on to each week to vote in our online poll question had to say on the issue. Last week, we asked “West Virginia University was recently named the No. 1 party school by Playboy magazine. What do you think about the designation?”

And here’s what you had to say:

• There’s not much to celebrate this year. We won’t even make the top 20 next year — 0 percent. (As an aside, I think this may have been the first time a response got absolutely no votes in the history of the poll question and its weekly analysis.)

• Cheers! It’s all part of the college-going experience and it isn’t a big deal — 15.74 percent.

• It’s an embarrassment for the state’s flagship university to be known for beer and riots instead of cutting-edge research and quality education — 84.26 percent.

Hopefully, WVU will fall off that list next year. It's one more "bad" statistic that we don't want associated with the Mountain State.

This week, let's talk about education even more, but this time on the primary level. A recent report found that 7 out of 10 third-grade students in West Virginia were not proficient in reading. What can we do to stop this trend?

Log on. Vote. Email me or respond online.

Misty Poe

Managing Editor