CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Higher education leaders in West Virginia are recommending the state legislature fund $10 million in capital improvement projects for the state’s colleges and universities. The original list was $1.4 billion.

Bob Plymale, the State Senate Education Committee chairman, said recently he believes funding should be connected to performance—perhaps being contingent upon retention rates.

“If (rates) have to increase, they have to improve,” said Plymale, advocating a funding system “with the idea of ‘Hey, if we are giving you these funds, we have to look at it overall.'”

The actual capital improvement package being recommended is for $19.3 million, but almost half would come from the schools themselves.

Plymale also said more focus needs to be placed on community and technical colleges.

“The community colleges are going to be our portal into the new economy as much as if not greater than the four-year institutions,” he said. “When we start looking at capital project priorities those are the areas I would really like to see us think out of the box.”

Plymale said a place like Blue Ridge Community and Technical College in Martinsburg should begin getting attention. He said it’s now the third-largest higher education institution in the state.

“You’ve got WVU, Marshall and Blue Ridge, and if you do the analysis correctly we should be doing everything possible to assist them in their growth,” Plymale said.


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  • A concerned educator

    I believe that Mr. Plymale is out of touch and has forgotten that there are other state institutions of higher education in West Virginia that are graduating educated citizens. By continuing to gauge into the anemic budgets of these institutions, it could be the death nail for some. I am very pessimistic for the future of a state that has only 3 institutions of higher education when it might be all said and done.

    • Aaron

      While I don't believe we should trim to 3 institutions, currently there are too many institutions offering duplicate programs. Some public institutions should be eliminated and the ones that remain should have coursed audited so that public institutions are not offering programs solely for the sake of offering them.

  • a concerned educator

    There is one major flaw in this recommendation. Not all colleges and universities in the state have the same admission requirements. For examples, Glenville State College and Bluefield State are both open enrollment schools which means that anyone can apply for admission regardless of ACT or other scores. However, other schools, such as WVU and Marshall, have more stringent admission policies with higher ACT requirements.

    For this reason, it is not fair to put all schools in the state on the same playing field in regards to retention-based state funding sources. I believe that there needs to be one source for the schools with the higher admissions requirements and one for the open enrollment schools. This would only level the playing field.

  • Charles

    WV Colleges and Universities are nothing more than paper factories.

    • Mac

      And your degree is from what institution and in what field of study? Or, did you not attend a higher ed institution, or possibly not finish a degree? I always love the commenters that speak with such verbosity and yet say things they know nothing about. Charles, unfortunately, you are lost. The gains of a college graduate sorely outweigh those that do not continue their education after high school. Even today, training and education in a two-year program at one of WV's Community Colleges can place graduates in well-paying jobs, some starting as high as $40K/year.

  • Aaron

    If the community colleges are going to be the portal into the new economy then the Higher Education Council needs to improve the quality of education offered and remove redundant degrees that do little to add to the student's employability.

    Many schools require a student attend well beyond 2 years needed to get a degree simply because the courses needed to meet the curriculum requirements are not offered in a timely manner thus driving up the cost for the student while eating up valuable financial aid money.

    West Virginia has 10 Community Colleges in 18 locations serving ~32,000 students. Bridgemont Community College has the highest graduation rate at 31% with New River and Southern supplying the lowest graduation rate at 9%. Overall, only 14.5% of first time-first year students who enter West Virginia’s community college system graduate within 3 years. Of those students, less than half, 48% actually make it back for their 2nd year and only 11% transfer to another university.

    The numbers for Blue Ridge are 14% graduation rate, 51% retention rate and a 7% transfer rate. Given the amount of money our state has spent on community colleges as a result of the break out from 4 year institutions, shouldn’t be mandate that they retain and graduate the students going there?

  • Dale

    No. No. No. Legislature! With all other agencies cutting back and WV in economic downturn, no increases!