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Editorial: Reviewing State Higher Education

From The Intelligencer of Wheeling:

Any operation of West Virginia state government that chews through more than half a billion dollars a year ought to be reviewed regularly to ensure taxpayers’ money is being spent as efficiently and effectively as possible.

State colleges and universities, at about $515 million for the current fiscal year, fall into that category.

Late last year, a nonprofit think tank, The Public Policy Foundation of West Virginia, proposed a plan to restructure higher education. One of the report’s two authors is Robin Capehart of Wheeling, formerly president of West Liberty State University.

Capehart and the other co-author, Raymond Keener, suggest the top agencies administering most state colleges and universities are not doing good jobs. The agencies are the Higher Education Policy Commission for four-year colleges and the Council for Community and Technical College Education for two-year institutions.

Capehart and Keener base at least part of their recommendation on a report by the legislative auditor. It concluded that the HEPC and CCTCE are “not providing the statutorily mandated oversight of higher education in West Virginia.”

Do not expect officials at either of the agencies to agree with that, of course. Their jobs are on the line.

Gov.-elect Jim Justice and legislators will not – and should not – accept the foundation’s report without question, of course. But that is the key: They should be asking comprehensive questions about the role of higher education and how well it is being handled in the Mountain State.

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