Higher education community embarks upon five-year master plan

Charleston, W.Va. – More than 150 people from across each of West Virginia’s public four-year colleges and universities have converged in Charleston today for a two-day conference hosted by the Higher Education Policy Commission (Commission) and focused on the state’s new five-year master plan for higher education, Leading the Way: Access. Success. Impact.

Representatives of areas ranging from academic affairs, recruitment and admissions, to career services, retention and community outreach are strategizing about ways to meet the plan’s bold aspirations – with the ultimate goal of solidifying higher education as a means to success for West Virginians and an economic catalyst for the state.

“Together with our campuses, we are tackling a plan that builds on recent progress and sets forth ambitious goals for higher education – and a means to achieve them,” said Dr. Paul Hill, the Commission’s Chancellor.

In addition to maintaining a strong focus on ensuring access to an affordable higher education for West Virginians, the Commission and institutions are focused on increasing students’ completion rates, assuring that academic programs prepare them to be knowledgeable and competent, and moving them from the classroom to careers in West Virginia. One Georgetown University study found that West Virginia needs an additional 20,000 degree-holders by 2018 to meet projected workforce needs.

Leading the Way imagines a primary role for public higher education in moving West Virginia toward a more diverse and robust economy that is competitive in a global, knowledge-based marketplace.

“We are working to address regional economic needs by developing and promoting pathways to the workforce for students and recent graduates,” Hill said. “College graduates go on to purchase homes, support local businesses, and give back to their communities. They contribute to our society in so many ways, and it’s essential that our system prepares students to take on the social and economic challenges facing West Virginia.”