Plans to explore aviation degree options take off

Marshall and Southern Utah University (SUU) 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.

The two universities will work to develop a possible curriculum that could be delivered at Marshall’s South Charleston campus and at Yeager Airport in Charleston, West Virginia.

The agreement is predicated on Marshall’s exploratory process in to the possibility of an array of 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.

President Gilbert and SUU President Scott L. Wyatt signed the MOA during a recent visit to SUU by Marshall personnel.

"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. "Southern Utah University is one of the nation’s leading universities in delivering rotor wing programs."

SUU’s Wyatt echoed the benefit of the partnership.

"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.  "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."

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 tremendous demand for highly trained individuals with technical expertise to work in the aviation industry.  Similarly, 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 the Robert C. Byrd Center for Flexible Manufacturing, believes the addition of aviation programs at Marshall would further advance the development of the aerospace industry in the Mountain State.

"Our goal is to increase the number of companies serving the aviation sector, attract new industry to the state and to create more jobs for West Virginians," Weber said.

Marshall and Southern Utah University will be looking to create synergy in programming while building upon each other’s strengths.

Marshall Provost Jaime Taylor says the possibility of new programs for Marshall students is very exciting.

"Marshall is committed to excellence and this is a great opportunity to expand our academic programs by collaborating with SUU and provide our students with exciting prospects for a career in aviation," Taylor said.

Southern Utah University is located in Cedar City, Utah, and has a student population of more than 10,000 students.  SUU’s aviation curriculum enrolls around 300 students between the rotor wing and fixed wing programs.


Photos:  (Above) President Gilbert (seated center) signs a Memorandum of Agreement with Southern Utah University President  Scott Wyatt (right) to explore options to jointly offer a four-year bachelor’s degree in aviation to teach students to fly helicopters.  Seated to Gilbert’s right is Provost Jaime Taylor.  The second row is composed of representatives from both schools. (Below)President Gilbert (right) is pictured with SUU’s  Joseph Quilter, Chief Fixed Wing Pilot.