Justice asks panel to study higher education system
CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice on Thursday announced the creation of a Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education to study and evaluate ways that West Virginia can create a more efficient and meaningful higher education system. The commission will be officially created by executive order and is expected to be signed by Monday, July 2.
The commission will be tasked with finding bold and unique solutions to a problem that West Virginia has faced for several decades, according to a news release. The governor has asked the commission to give regular updates and reports and has mandated the work be completed by the December 2018 interim meetings of the West Virginia Legislature.
“Our West Virginia colleges and universities are so critical to our communities, and the continued erosion of their stability deeply concerns me,” Justice said in the release. “My hope is that every possible solution will be considered and evaluated, all colleges and universities will be consulted, and that the commission will find the right solution for our higher education system in West Virginia.
“Just as my philosophy has been in opposition to K-12 school consolidation, our colleges and universities need an advocate to stand up for their continued stability and to recognize their critical importance to West Virginia communities. These colleges and universities are a lifeline for the students they serve and represent the future of West Virginia. We must find a more efficient means of ensuring that these colleges and universities stay in the communities they serve today.”
At the same time, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission has been working to finalize a new higher education funding model, which is due to the Legislature by October. The funding model is calculated by the number of in-state students the four-year institutions serve.