NCHEMS Report - Sustaining Public Education Services in Every Region of West Virginia: The Future of the Regional Comprehensive Colleges and Universities - Report from Concord University President Kendra Boggess
Sarah Pritchett Dalton
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Sustaining Public Education Services in Every Region of West Virginia:
The Future of the Regional Comprehensive Colleges and Universities
Report from Concord University President Kendra Boggess
ATHENS, W.Va. – Concord University administration actively participated in the review process conducted by the NCHEMS group. The NCHEMS report accurately reflects the economic realities faced by all institutions of higher education in WV. The findings in the report are consistent with Concord’s analysis of the implications of the regional demographics and recommendations for possible solutions to the challenges. While Concord may not be in complete agreement with each aspect of the report, we believe it is important that the document be carefully considered as we prepare to address the higher education challenges in WV.
The report identifies a number of issues, concerns, and challenges that are being dealt with on a regular basis by regional higher education institutions in West Virginia. The disparity in the state funding formula and competition from the research universities are two examples of the challenges exacerbated by the current structure. Hopefully, the NCHEMS report and work by the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission will enhance the Legislature’s ability to think through the issues and make the best decisions for WV and the regional institutions.
Concord University will have an active role in determining our future and the future of higher education in southern West Virginia. We advocate for increased collaboration and efficient and effective shared-services, and have as our top priorities quality student learning outcomes, access and affordability, and financial sustainability.
Despite the challenges, Concord has managed to reduce operating expenses by over $3 million dollars and essentially balance our budget without reducing student support or resorting to layoffs and reductions in force. We have a strategic financial plan and will continue to pursue cost reductions and new revenue sources, as well as increased collaboration. We believe in the power and promise of collaboration and advocate for a synergistic solution for southern WV that maintains the identity of southern schools while enhancing our strength as a regional force.
Concord is actively working with Bluefield State College and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine to develop collaborative opportunities and is open to greater collaboration with other regional institutions. The NCHEMS proposed consolidation of Concord and Bluefield is only one potential option that should be considered as we determine the best model for higher education for West Virginia.
My goal as part of the Blue Ribbon Commission is to seek to do what’s best for the people of West Virginia by encouraging all to put aside our individual interests and seek to align our interests in support of the best choice for WV.
I look forward to working with other institutions in the state, the Blue Ribbon Commission, Higher Education Policy Commission, and the Legislature in identifying and recommending a path forward for West Virginia higher education.
As the Governor has indicated, the best time to do this is now and we are ready to help design the future of higher education together.
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