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University presidents underscore higher education is investment in West Virginia’s future

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West Virginia University president Gordon Gee and Marshall University president Jerome Gilbert
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Further funding cuts would be “devastating” and could result in significant tuition increases for students

The presidents of West Virginia's largest state-supported universities came together today to call on state legislators to take further cuts to higher education out of the mix when trying to balance the state's budget.

In a joint statement, Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert and West Virginia University President Gordon Gee emphasized that higher education is one of the keys to West Virginia’s future prosperity and that further significant cuts to state funding for colleges and universities would be devastating.

The statement comes several days after leaders in the state legislature indicated they are eyeing reductions to higher education as one way to address the state’s budget shortfall.

“President Gee and I are taking a stand together in support of preserving state funding for higher education as an investment in the future of our state and its people,” said Gilbert. “It doesn’t make sense to cut off one of the primary paths a state has to successful economic growth—and that’s an educated workforce. Higher education is absolutely vital to having the workforce companies want when they are looking to locate or expand facilities.”

Gee said, “I realize it may seem easier to cut our way to success. However, the worthier option is to invest in those things that will bring prosperity to our state. The best way to propel West Virginia into prosperity is to leverage its assets. West Virginia University, Marshall University and our sister institutions here in West Virginia are assets to this state. And we remain committed to helping our state’s leaders forge solutions that will drive real change.”

Gilbert and Gee said state allocations to West Virginia’s colleges and universities already have been cut $56.6 million since 2013, and agreed further cuts would be devastating to students and their families.

“Marshall alone has had $11.5 million in state cuts over the past several years. Another significant reduction in our state allocation will give us no choice but to effectively pass the cut directly on to our students in the form of a sizeable tuition increase,” said Gilbert. “That will be a real hardship for our students, three-fourths of whom are from West Virginia.”

Gee added, “We have always protected our academic mission and done our best to keep our tuition affordable and accessible. However, West Virginia University has taken nearly $30 million in state reductions over the past three years. Any additional significant reductions would jeopardize the quality and value of an education that a student at West Virginia University receives, as well as the programs and services we provide to the state.”

-WVU/Marshall-

03/21/17

CONTACT: Ginny Painter; Marshall Office of University Communications
304.696.4621; painterv@marshall.edu

John A. Bolt, WVU University Relations/Office of Communications
304.293.5520; john.bolt@mail.wvu.edu

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.