Chancellor, presidents emphasize need for student-driven decisions amid budget discussions

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – As the West Virginia Legislature continues working toward a balanced budget, the state’s regional higher education institutions have joined the Higher Education Policy Commission in emphasizing the importance of keeping the needs of West Virginia students at the forefront of budget and policy decisions.

Together, West Virginia’s regional institutions serve more than 15,000 in-state students each year.

Statements from Chancellor Hill and Regional Presidents

“West Virginia’s economic future hinges on our ability to educate more of our citizens and produce a highly-educated workforce. Public higher education is an investment in our state’s future and the return on that investment is many times greater than its cost. As state leaders face tough budgetary decisions in the coming days, we encourage continued support of public higher education – and a sustained focus on preserving college access and affordability and protecting the ability of West Virginians to earn a degree here at home.”

Chancellor Paul Hill, Higher Education Policy Commission 

“Higher education is a strategic investment in West Virginia’s present and future economy, returning human and economic dividends that multiply state funding by at least six to 10 times. Southern West Virginia relies on Bluefield State to provide a highly-skilled workforce to fill jobs in crucial industries as well as stimulate the economy. Our students also make a meaningful impact in the region as interns and volunteers with local governments, businesses, and non-profit organizations. These experiences hone their ingenuity and develop the entrepreneurial spirit needed to lead West Virginia to a strong future.”

President Marsha Krotseng, Bluefield State College

“In these tight budgetary times, the state’s strategic investments should be those that best serve to develop the potential of our young people, and the most important of those investments is higher education.

“The state’s return on investment realized from its support of higher education institutions is returned to the state multiple times and in almost incalculable ways. Without an educated population, creating a 21st century economy, bringing new industries, opportunities, and businesses into the state is likely to be unsuccessful.

“Having young people whose creativity and energy are invested back into their communities in roles such as (1) well prepared and bright educators, (2) successful business people, (3) technologically proficient employees and employers, (4) citizens who give back to their communities, and (5) graduates who move on to succeed in law school, medical schools and graduate programs who then remain in the state to serve its citizens, is the wisest strategic investment for the state.

“Our students depend upon affordable public institutions and our students are represented by the thousands of Concord University alumni who remain in the southern part of the state, and serve in various roles across and beyond the state. Supporting our higher education institutions is one of the best investments West Virginia can possibly make in its young people.”

President Kendra Boggess, Concord University

“Higher education is the key to economic development. As West Virginia explores additional business and industry opportunities, it is imperative that West Virginia provide a well-trained workforce of individuals who have the skills, knowledge, and abilities to meet the demands of these businesses. Regional institutions such as Fairmont State University provide students an opportunity to learn, grow, and develop abilities to meet the demands of a 21st century workforce.”

President Maria Rose, Fairmont State University

“Each regional college in West Virginia uniquely addresses our state’s higher educational needs. We cannot put all of our students in a one size fits-all mold. Some students are not suited for a large university, while others might thrive in such an atmosphere. Many students require smaller class size and many need a college or university within driving distance due to job, family, or financial considerations. The regional institutions address these various educational needs, while simultaneously having a huge economic impact in the regions where each school is located. West Virginia is well-served by keeping its unique and diverse colleges and universities.”

President Pete Barr, Glenville State College

“Education is key in the transition of West Virginia’s mineral-based economy to a blended economy that includes an array of business and industries, including energy, information and technology, research and development. To create this transformative economy, the state of West Virginia needs to invest in higher education and in our students. They are the future.”

President Mary Hendrix, Shepherd University

“The state of West Virginia is at a critical crossroads. Higher education and a college-educated workforce have never been more necessary to the state’s growth and prosperity. I would be pleased to work with the Governor and the Legislature in finding creative ways to continue to offer affordable access to higher education for all students. For example, at WLU, we have a large percentage of first generation college students. Therefore it’s imperative that we keep the cost of higher education within reach of the population we serve. Another year of budget cuts will make it necessary to raise tuition to unacceptable levels.”

President Stephen Greiner, West Liberty University

“Higher education remains a consistent and sound return on investment for the state of West Virginia. The rebuilding of our state and its economy will be predicated on a strong educated citizenry and workforce. Moreover, the research we produce in technology, agriculture, human health, and economics is crucial to the success of our state.”

President Anthony Jenkins, West Virginia State University

“The West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine is currently the leader in producing primary care physicians for West Virginia. Economically, we return to the state more than ten dollars for every state dollar that we receive. Continued reductions in our state funding will jeopardize our ability to maintain the high quality of our program and, ultimately, put more financial burden on our students as tuition increases would become inevitable.”

President Michael Adelman, West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine