CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state’s Higher Education Policy Commission is now actively looking for its next leader. Longtime Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill announced two years ago he would retire in 2018 and is now ready to take that step. Hill tells MetroNews he’ll serve until his successor is on board.

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HEPC Chancellor Dr. Paul Hill

“It will probably be later this calendar year,” said Hill. “The chairman is working on a search committee to get the process underway and once that process is complete, I’ll step aside when my successor is named.”

Hill has guided the state’s higher education community through some tumultuous times. The system endured five straight years of funding cuts from the state and was forced to increase tuition on students. Since the Great Recession of 2008, the number of students option to move on to a college education dropped dramatically. Hill believes in the last two years they have seen a turnaround in that area.

“We’re seeing a slight up-tick in the college going rate in West Virginia,” he said. “That tells me our message is getting out there and students are realizing the jobs of the future and jobs of today require e college degree and we’re seeing more students coming back into higher ed.”

Although that is an improvement, Hill said it will be up to his predecessor to continue to push for increased funding. 2018 was the first year in some time the commission hasn’t been strapped by the state, he hopes the trend will continue for whomever gets the job.

“Everyone realizes we need an educated workforce to build the state’s economy. The two go hand in hand,” he explained. “If we have the opportunity to put more money back into higher education, then indeed we’re going to see greater opportunities for our students down the road.”

As for Hill’s plans, he hopes to use his background in science for some good going forward. He’ll be involved in grant applications and fundraising efforts for science research activities involving the state’s higher education institutions.

“I think we have a lot of really bright scientists and students coming along,” he explained. “Given a little bit of support to buy equipment and get some things they need in their labs, I think we can see some even greater things emerge here in the state.”

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