Students Are Customers States Higher Education Chancellor
Athens, W.Va. - Higher Education Policy Commission Chancellor J. Michael Mullen visited Concord College on Wednesday, September 19. Mullen is scheduling visits to all state higher education institutions in an effort to have a broad understanding of issues and concerns affecting student learning, faculty, staff, and resources.
Concord President Jerry L. Beasley hosted the chancellor’s visit, conducted a tour of the college campus and held a reception for the chancellor to meet faculty, staff, and students.
J. Michael Mullen was appointed chancellor of higher education for West Virginia in February 2001. Prior to his appointment, Mullen served as vice president for administration at Northern Arizona University for two years. Previously, he served on the staff of the Council of Higher Education for Virginia for 24 years in the positions of associate/assistant director, deputy director and interim director. He also served as division chairman; director of institutional research; and associate professor of business at Northern Virginia Community College. He was an instructor of economics at Shepherd College for one year. Mullen holds a B.S. in psychology from the George Washington University, an M.B.A. from West Virginia University, and a Ph.D. in higher education from the University of Virginia.
Mullen stated that, “Students are customers paying good money to buy a product. Students vote with their pocketbooks by going from course to course and program to program. West Virginia’s senate and house passed legislation last year to focus priority on students and not the institutions. How will this affect Concord? Concord has to be brave enough to say that quality education will be provided to the students so that students don’t exercise their options to go to other institutions.”
Last year, the Student Government Association supported a $15.00-per-student library fee to increase the resources in the library. The legislature, however, would not allow the College to charge the fee to the students. SGA representative Brian McCarthy asked the chancellor why the $15.00 library fee was not allowed.
“There was no political appetite for the legislature to do anything. It was strictly a political issue. Other states have been increasing tuition and fees, South Carolina implemented a 15 percent increase and North Carolina implemented a 12 percent increase. We can solve this by changing the rules so that these types of decisions are made locally with the institution’s Board of Governors. You will need to work with your local board.”
SGA President Robert Michael asked the chancellor why the state keeps fees paid by Concord students and earmarked for capital improvements on the campus and redistributes to other institutions to pay for such facilities as football stadiums.
“Money for deferred maintenance and capital improvements should stay with the institution. I absolutely agree with you and we are going to try to fix this,” stated Mullen.
Students were also concerned about transferring credits between institutions in West Virginia.
“There needs to be an equivalency table so that students don’t have to re-take courses.
“I am basically a competition person. We are best served when we let the market serve us.
“I taught two courses while in Arizona. I used e-mail and chat rooms to interact with the students. Technology enhances education. Instead of standing up and lecturing, you become a guide.
“We have not demanded enough of public school teachers or students. The more you demand, the more you get. National data says that if high school students take four English language, four math, four social science, one art, one computer science, and two foreign language classes that they will succeed in a baccalaureate program.” Mullen indicated that he is promoting more rigid high school graduation requirements for West Virginia students.