The city of Morgantown’s population will double on Friday, Aug. 20.

Students are expected to arrive on West Virginia University’s campus from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.

Even in hard economic times, enrollment is expected to be around 29,000. Freshmen enrollment is estimated to increase by about 300 students to 4,900, and transfer enrollment may see an increase of nearly 17 percent.

Click below to hear Morgantown Mayor Bill Byrne discuss the key role WVU students play in the community.

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“Every year at this time Morgantown comes alive in a very special way with the students returning,” said Morgantown Mayor Bill Byrne. “It brings a tremendous amount of vitality and excitement back into the community. The student body plays such an integral part in this community and they contribute so much to the area, especially in terms of community service and economic vitality. It is always great to have them back.”

Because of the students and WVU, Morgantown’s economy has remained one of the strongest in the nation.

The Morgantown economic outlook – released in March 2010 – reported that growth in population, the University and overall economy is helping to expand employment opportunities in the area. And, while no specific measure is available, economic officials agree that students have a significant impact on the local and state economy through the purchases they make on groceries, books, transportation, retail items and other goods and services.

Students regularly volunteer their expertise and time to help cultivate community efforts. Annually more than 6,000 WVU students complete community service projects– adding up to more than 100,000 hours, according to the Center for Civic Engagement.

“This is an exciting time of year. It is a time for new beginnings and promising opportunities. I am thrilled to welcome new students to WVU and see current students return to continue their studies,” said WVU President James P. Clements. “WVU students are truly amazing. They are dedicated to making a positive impact not only in the Morgantown community, but all over the country and world.”

WVU has worked hard to keep students coming back.

In 2010 when other universities were being forced to make cuts, WVU remained stable. Tuition for in-state students went unchanged, while the increase for out-of-state students remained minimal at 3 percent per semester.

At the same time, peers in New York, Georgia, Virginia and Florida were forced to increase tuition and fees anywhere from 12 to 25 percent.

Students come to WVU to pursue their dreams, to become the world’s leaders and to be life changers.

“They are the people who will create new technologies, new methodologies and the next set of gizmos and gadgets. We are glad these young folks are beginning their futures here,” said Provost Michele Wheatly.

Byron Patterson, of Upper Black Eddy, Pa., is returning to WVU to begin his junior year. The mechanical and aerospace engineering student aims to impact the world through his research on rotocraft and hypersonic flight technology.

At WVU, Patterson has begun those goals by participating in circulation control research applied to wind turbines.

“I love the many opportunities. For my major, along with many others, the campus is conducive for many learning experiences,” he said. “I’ve had access to the WVU hangar, where I’ve helped the Center for Industrial Research Applications construct their Circulation Control Vertical Axis Wind Turbine; hangars and the supporting equipment are not as readily available on other campuses.”

Patterson was recently chosen as one of only 11 students in the country to receive the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Undergraduate Scholarship.

He shares his passion for learning and international experiences with many other WVU students.

In 2009-10, more than 1,025 students traveled to Italy, Peru, China, Jordan, Russia, Dubai, Mexico, England, Chile, Malawi, and many other destinations.

In return, approximately two-thirds of WVU’s international student population remained on campus for summer school, essentially becoming residents of Morgantown year-round and contributing greatly to the vitality of the community.

Biology and psychology student Namratha Gudemaranahalli – originally from India – is one of those students who calls Morgantown home.

“There is something here for everyone,” she said.

By Colleen DeHart
Communications Specialist
WVU News and Information



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