BRIDGEPORT, W.Va. — Structure of the state’s higher education, needs of regional colleges and funding are the top three priorities decided by the Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education.

Presidents from the Mountain State’s four-year institutions, the Higher Education Policy Commission and the West Virginia Education Association met Monday at Steptoe & Johnson at White Oaks in Bridgeport.

Gordon Gee

“What we talked about today is the fact that I think we’re going to have strong governing boards for each institution, and then what we want to have is we want to have a centralized authority that will provide services to those institutions that need it,” WVU President E. Gordon Gee said.

With Monday being the Commission’s third meeting without any firm resolution, Gee said he feels they need to “move very quickly.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions and now we know what’s sort of the parameters of where we are,” he said. “We need to talk about what the structure of higher education needs to look like including what kind of central authority we have or what kind of central authority we need.”

Gee wasn’t finished there though, suggesting the body that governs higher education in West Virginia requires some tweaking.

“Secondly of all, we need to take a look at how we really start putting together a function for our education that allows us to address some of the needs of the regional institutions,” he said. “The third thing, obviously, is that we need to take a look, eventually, at a funding formula of some kind that really does help us to move our institutions forward. But structure first, how we deal with the whole of higher education, and then moving to how we fund it.”

Gee reiterated Monday during the Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education that he has no intention of forcing a hostile takeover the state HEPC.

“Obviously I have no preconceived plan. I have said that on a number of occasions,” he said. “Secondly of all, I think that what we need to do is we need to get on about the business of really having a strong governing board. The university has more than it possibly can do. I have no designs on anyone else, nor does the university, but we do have designs on improving the quality of higher education in the state. I have a lot of stake in that, so that’s what we’re going to do.”

The co-chairmen of the Commission will break the full committee into subcommittees before reconvening at a later date.

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