History of The Erma Byrd Higher Education Center

The Erma Byrd Center is the first building constructed on the Public Higher Education campus, Beaver, WV.  The vision for coordinating the seven public colleges in this region was first effectively proposed in 1990, by Robert Kiss, Esq., then Speaker of the West Virginia House of Delegates.

Five higher education institutions comprised the initial founders:  Marshall University, Concord University (then College), Bluefield State College, West Virginia Institute of Technology, and Southern West Virginia  Community & Technical College.  Subsequent actions by the West Virginia Legislature merged the WV Institute of Technology with West Virginia University and created two community colleges West Virginia Tech and New River , both bearing the names of Community & Technical Colleges.

US Senator Robert C. Byrd obtained $10 million from the US Department of Health & Human Services to develop the current campus and construct the first building.  Beaver Coal Company donated the land.  The West Virginia Legislature, through the efforts of Speaker Kiss, designated funds for equipping the Center, and Congressman Nick J. Rahall, II, secured funds for the mile roadway into the Center.  Other contributions came from the Appalachian Regional Commission (equipment), the West Virginia Department of Development (photovoltaic panels), and Appalachian Power (wind turbine).

During the span of this development, four Raleigh County Commissioners acted as fiscal managers and advisors:  William Baker, John Humphrey, John Aliff, and Pat Reed.  Alliance Consulting was the land architect, ZMM the building architect, and Radford & Radford, the general contractor.  Thomas S. Acker, S.J., spearheaded the development from the beginning to end, and Florian Schleiff was the owner’s representative during the construction period.  The land and building are owned and managed by the Higher Education Foundation.

The first classes were held at this campus, August 20, 2007.  On Columbus Day, October 8, 2007, the community dedicated the building to Erma Byrd, late wife of Senator Robert C. Byrd.  Senator Byrd was the principal speaker.  This campus and this building represent a first for West Virginia:  A single site coordinated presence of multiple public colleges/universities in a spirit of cooperation.                                                                                                                                                                                


October 8, 2007.


In 2012, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission took over management of The Erma Byrd Center which is now home to the following residential partners:  Bluefield State College, Concord University and Marshall University.