WVU-P opens doors of its culinary facility

PARKERSBURG – More than 50 people attended the ribbon-cutting for West Virginia University at Parkersburg’s downtown culinary arts center Wednesday.

The program will be a two-year associate’s degree program with a blend of traditional classroom and online courses and will include all phases of cooking and provide students a local, more affordable option for culinary arts education.

Gene Evans, head of the culinary arts academy, provided tours of the kitchen space and its half million dollars in equipment.

WVU-P President Marie Foster Gnage said the culinary school was a small part of WVU-P’s downtown center. Gnage had a laundry list of thank-yous and used the event to mention help will be needed as the school moves toward phase II – creating a virtual conference center and small business incubator.

Gerard El Chaar, vice chairman of the WVU-P Board of Governors, called the downtown old glory and the facility was a step in the right direction.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said the downtown campus was a monumental task and it was an easy decision for the city to pitch in and help.

“WVU-P has been a catalyst for other businesses, along with Highmark West Virginia,” Newell said. “It’s very important for downtown.”

Jim Skidmore, chancellor of the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia, said the program is another project to prepare students to enter the workforce in careers that are in demand.

“It also enhances economic development in the region,” he added. Skidmore said the added development to the region is a component the community and technical colleges strive to achieve.

WVU-P spokeswoman Katie Wootton said the program begins March 11, and applications will be accepted until this program is filled. Currently, there are seven students enrolled. School officials hope to have 12.