HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — As students at Marshall University get ready for the fall semester, university president Jerome Gilbert says he and other university leaders are continuing to move the institution into the future through adopting new programs better suited for changes in the state’s economy.

Classes begin Monday; first-year students took part in preliminary activities last.

Gilbert said during a recent edition of MetroNews “Talkline” the university is fortunate enough it has not needed to eliminate any degree programs, noting officials continue to evaluate the business environment and add degrees as needed. Such additions include an undergraduate biomedical engineering degree and a cybersecurity program, as well as a planned aviation program at Charleston’s Yeager Airport and Huntington’s Tri-State Airport.

“We’re doing a flight school degree-based program over at Yeager, and we’re doing a maintenance-based two-year program with MountWest over at Tri-State,” he explained.

The flight programs will launch in two years.

Marshall University

Jerome Gilbert

Gilbert said Marshall University looks to add 300 students in the Charleston area as well as a dormitory building at its South Charleston campus.

“We want to be a major force in the Charleston area,” he added.

Changes with Marshall University are also thanks to alumnus Brad Smith, the chairman of Intuit; Smith and his wife announced a $25 million gift for the university’s Lewis College of Business last November.

Gilbert said they are working with Smith and West Virginia University on entrepreneurial activities around the state.

“We realize there’s not going to be a single solution that we’re going to have to attract additional industries into the state,” he said. “We’re going to have to look at online opportunities to create jobs. We need to create more jobs in the state of West Virginia, and we’re committed to doing that at Marshall.”

During his appearance, Gilbert also shared two pieces of advice he gives students: Go to class and get connected to the university. First-years students are now enrolled in the Friend at Marshall peer-mentoring program, in which they meet with other students to discuss issues ranging from homesickness to financial aid.

“We hope to increase our retention and graduation rates significantly with this new program. It’s a new effort for us, and I think it’s going to be great for our students,” Gilbert said.

Final exams for the fall semester are scheduled to begin Dec. 7.