Panel recommends $10 million funding boost for colleges

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education has recommended a $10 million annual funding increase for West Virginia’s smaller colleges.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported that it’s the first recommendation approved by the commission. The proposal would distribute the dollars differently than an earlier suggestion from Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert.
The newspaper reports that the commission’s meeting Friday in Beckley appeared to signal the end of Gilbert’s proposal to cut the separate state Higher Education Policy Commission’s funding by up to $2 million to provide some of that $10 million.
Blue Ribbon panel member and current Marshall Board of Governors member Gary White said before the vote that the money would come out of the state budget surplus. Fellow panel member and Fairmont State University President Mirta Martin said “we’re not looking to have these funds taken from other agencies.”
The new recommendation would give:
–$553,000 to Bluefield State College
–$1.6 million to Concord University
–$3.4 million to Fairmont State University
–$40,000 to Glenville State College
–Zero to Marshall University
–Zero to Potomac State College of West Virginia University
–$2.5 million to Shepherd University
–$1 million to West Liberty University
–Zero to the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
–$860,000 to West Virginia State University
–Zero to West Virginia University
–Zero to West Virginia University Institute of Technology
Blue Ribbon panel members have said the new recommendation is based roughly on increasing the equality of the amount of state funding per full-time-equivalent in-state student among all the state’s public four-year colleges, except for WVU, Marshall, their branch campuses and the School of Osteopathic Medicine, in Lewisburg.
Martin said the funding increase is meant to set new base budgets for future years. She said the state funding per full-time equivalent in-state student method used to calculate those amounts was a one-time approach used to set these new base budgets, and it’s not meant to be used in future years.
There is no formula, based on enrollment or otherwise, used to determine how lawmakers fund colleges.
The panel is asking Gov. Jim Justice to let its members work on a longer-term funding formula for roughly another year after the Dec. 10 due date Justice set for the panel’s report.
Information from: The Charleston Gazette-Mail,