Wheeling Jesuit University to Offer Commuter Tuition

Photo by Casey Junkins Wheeling Jesuit University Associate Vice President for Enrollment Sean Doyle speaks during a Wednesday news conference, as university President Debra Townsley looks on.

WHEELING — “Wheeling Jesuit University is a sleeping giant” is a comment college President Debra Townsley said she is tired of hearing.

The days of the campus being relatively quiet may be numbered as WJU will work to grow its student population by offering the new Fr. Clifford Lewis S.J. Scholars Program. This will allow those who qualify to attend the university for $8,250 per year.

This program, combined with the start of college football on campus this fall, could help WJU increase its undergraduate enrollment.

“We want WJU to be a known commodity,” Townsley said after the Wednesday news conference announcing the new scholarship. “We don’t want to be sleeping anymore.”

The scholarship will offer this tuition rate to commuter students who live in one of 12 counties in the Upper Ohio Valley: Ohio, Brooke, Marshall, Hancock and Wetzel counties in West Virginia; Belmont, Jefferson, Harrison, Monroe and Guernsey counties in Ohio; and Washington and Greene counties in Pennsylvania.

“The Lewis Scholars Program is another intentional way that our university is providing access to West Virginia’s top-rated university to local students,” Townsley said. “Thanks to our new commuter rate, aspiring students in this region have an opportunity to make their college selection based on academic excellence, rather than cost.”

Although regular tuition for the 2018-19 academic year is not yet final, the current tuition rate listed for commuter students is $27,000.

That means those qualifying for the scholarship would pay less than one-third the regular tuition rate.

The announcement comes as the university is preparing for its inaugural college football season. The team will play an exhibition schedule this fall, with full competition set to begin in 2019.

Sean Doyle, associate vice president for enrollment, said the new program puts Wheeling Jesuit’s commuter tuition directly in competition with costs at public colleges and universities in the Upper Ohio Valley.

“Since our founding in 1954, WJU has been a place focused on educating students in Appalachia for life, leadership and service. The Lewis Scholars Program takes cost and affordability out of the college decision process, allowing students to base their choice on the best academic environment available to help them achieve their educational goals,” Doyle added.

With more than 90 percent of Wheeling Jesuit graduates working in their field or attending graduate school within 12 months of graduation, Doyle said, “local students have even better access to an educational experience that will position them for success after graduation.”

Students who qualify for the program must participate in seven hours of service each semester through Wheeling Jesuit’s Service for Social Action Center. In addition, students must take 12 to 16 credit hours per semester, while maintaining good academic standing.

Townsley said those accepted to the program may find themselves serving meals to the homeless, working with disadvantaged elementary school students, stuffing care packages for deployed members of the military, or engaging in a variety of other charitable works.

“We know that students exposed to service opportunities tend to give back to their communities upon graduation, and as a result of this program, the Ohio Valley region will be positively impacted through the work our students will undertake,” Doyle said.

The program is named for Fr. Clifford Lewis, S.J., the first Jesuit who came to Wheeling in the early 1950s. He spent more than half his life serving and working in Wheeling – a region he grew to love and call his home.

“Wheeling Jesuit students have given back to the region through community service, immersion trips and other outreach programs. Serving and educating the people of Appalachia was what Fr. Lewis and the founding Jesuits envisioned when starting the university and we remain committed to this mission today,” Doyle added.