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Marshall, Southern Utah University agree to explore aviation degree options

March 1, 2019 GMT

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Marshall University and Southern Utah University have signed a memorandum of agreement to cooperate in exploring options to jointly offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in aviation to teach students to fly helicopters, Marshall announced Thursday.

The two universities say in a news release they will work to develop a possible curriculum that could be delivered at Marshall’s South Charleston campus and at Yeager Airport in Charleston.

Marshall already has begun exploring the possibility of adding aviation programs on the South Charleston and Huntington campuses by working with Yeager Airport and Huntington Tri-State Airport. These include flight programs in both helicopter (rotor wing) and airplane (fixed wing), maintenance, aviation safety, and aviation management.

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Marshall President Jerome Gilbert and SUU President Scott L. Wyatt signed the MOA, predicated by the ongoing exploration process, during a recent visit Marshall personnel made to SUU.

“This is a critical first step in a possible joint academic program that will give us a chance to expand our programming and offer other opportunities for students in West Virginia and the east coast,” Gilbert said in the news release. “Southern Utah University is one of the nation’s leading universities in delivering rotor wing programs.”

Plans to pursue the programs are based, in part, on industry needs as identified by aviation leaders.

Huntington Tri-State Airport Director Brent Brown indicates that there is a demand for highly trained individuals with technical expertise to work in the aviation industry while Yeager Airport Director Terry Sayre notes an upcoming pilot shortage and a large push by the airlines to find more pilots.

Charlotte Weber, director of Marshall’s Robert C. Byrd Center for Flexible Manufacturing, said the addition of aviation programs at Marshall would further advance the development of the aerospace industry in West Virginia, potentially attracting new industry and jobs to the state.

Southern Utah University, located in Cedar City, Utah, enrolls around 300 students between its rotor wing and fixed wing programs. The schools say they plan to build upon each others’ strengths as they collaborate on the new programming.

“Marshall University has a great reputation and will be an ideal partner for us to expand our reach to the east coast by having a partner in West Virginia,” Wyatt said in the release. “I visited the Marshall campus and was very impressed with the campus, its facilities, its leadership and its programs. Together, we will be able to do some amazing things in aviation.”