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West Virginia considers merging thier HBCUs with other state schools (1092 hits)

A report from a national higher education consulting firm recommends that state leaders consolidate Concord University and Bluefield State College, as well as consider consolidating a handful of other colleges down the road.

The report was obtained from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, a state agency that oversees four-year schools and commissioned a consultant to complete the work.

The consultant found that ďfor the institutions at highest risk, Bluefield State College and Concord University, the challenges are so serious that only a major restructuring will preserve postsecondary education opportunity for students in Southern West Virginia.Ē
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In May 2017, Gov. Jim Justice directed the Higher Education Policy Commission to ďconduct a formal assessment on how to sustain and strengthen the future of public higher education in West Virginia,Ē according to Cindy Anderson, the commissionís director of administrative services.

Anderson said the commission worked with an independent consulting firm - the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems - to complete the report. She added, however, that the reportís conclusions donít necessarily reflect the commissionís opinion.

The consultantís report sounds a major alarm about the future of several four-year public colleges and their ability to keep operating.

Last week, about three months after the consultantís report was completed, Justice announced he would appoint a new Blue Ribbon Commission to look at the sustainability of the stateís four-year colleges.

The new commission, he said, would look at ways to prevent some of the stateís smaller colleges from closing.

The consultantís report makes several recommendations ó some for the short term and some for the long term.

In the short term, the consultant recommends combining Bluefield State and Concord. Bluefield State has been working on building residence halls, hoping that will attract more out-of-state students to the school, where more than 70 percent of the student body comes from McDowell and Mercer counties. Meanwhile, Concord has unused residence hall space.

Also in the short term, the consultant recommends returning some of the Higher Education Policy Commissionís power and calls for the state to implement an ďonline course clearinghouseĒ to make it easier to run online classes.

In the long term, the consultant recommends more radical changes. The report says the state should establish a regional governing board - led by the Higher Education Policy Commissionís chancellor - to oversee the following schools: Bluefield State, Concord, West Virginia State University and Glenville State College.

Itís unclear if Justiceís recent appointment of a Blue Ribbon Commission to look at the sustainability of four-year colleges is connected to the recommendations of the consultantís report. A spokesman from the governorís office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Original post: https://www.wvnews.com/news/wvnews/report-state-needs-to-consolidate-concord-bluefield-state/article_93628cba-0968-500a-831a-5a4af14607ba.html
By Jake Jarvis
Posted By: Reginald Culpepper
Tuesday, July 10th 2018 at 6:26PM
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