CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As state lawmakers continue to debate higher education funding as part of the upcoming state budget, Concord University held an event Tuesday a few miles from the Capitol Complex to raise money for scholarships and campus projects.
The university held its Foundation Charleston Dinner at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston, with alumni and university staff in attendance.
Alicia Besenyei, vice president for advancement at the university, said the event helps raise money that would be unrestricted.
“There’s probably 95 to 97 percent of our students that need some to attend school,” she said. “Our base of students comes from southern West Virginia, so we try to help them any way we can. A lot of that is through scholarships, and this is something that we can do to add to the scholarships in place.”
According to Besenyai, one item the school would put money toward is its new broadcast meteorology program.
“In order to offer the best experience for those students, we need meteorology equipment,” she said.
With four days left in the legislative session, the chambers of the Legislature are offering budget proposals that could have significant effects on higher education.
The Senate’s plan would cut 15 percent (or $80 million) of funds for universities and colleges, while the House of Delegates’ proposal includes a 4.4 percent cut (around $10 million).
Concord University President Kendra Boggess said cuts to higher education would mean cuts to the state’s future.
“Without having schools like Concord, like Glenville State, like Fairmont State, I think the state would be in a much worse state,” she said. “A lot of students are not ready to leave home to go to a school far away.”
Boggess said “the right thing” would be finding other cuts and increasing taxes to prevent cuts to education.
“I know there are very limited ways,” she said. “I talk to a lot of people and they’re not in favor of, but they are willing to pay more taxes to see that a lot of people don’t lose their jobs.”
Concord University has 300 full-time employees, according to Boggess.
Boggess said the biggest problem for small schools, such as Concord, West Virginia University Tech and Bluefield State College is enrollment.
“There’s plenty to go around in terms of programs, but there are not plenty of students,” she said.
Besenyei said while they won’t know how much was raised for a few weeks, they brought in $25,000 from similar past events.