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‘It’s not true’: Concord president shuts down rumor of school closing


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

ATHENS, W.Va.  “It’s not going to happen. It’s not true.”

Concord University President Dr. Kendra Boggess on Thursday laid to rest a rumor that the school is closing, saying Concord is facing budgetary challenges just as the state is.

“Concord is in the same shape as the state of West Virginia,” she said. “We are not worse off (than the state) and we are not better off. If you look at all schools in the state, we are more financially stable than a lot of the others.”

The rumor, which Boggess said has spread through social media, is related to a story that was published in the Bluefield Daily Telegraph Tuesday about a Gov. Jim Justice comment on Monday.

Justice, during an editorial board meeting at the Beckley Register-Herald, said if the GOP-proposed budget passed, Concord and Fairmont State University could close.

Boggess said Concord is “doing fine,” just facing budgetary issues as everyone is.

Budget cuts have had a “significant” impact on the college during the last three years, she said.

“We have been flexible,” she said. “We have found ways to do things more efficiently. We are doing fine.”

Boggess said higher education has been used as a “political football” and it’s part of a game to get a budget (passed), and she has “heard nothing from the Governor’s’ office” on his comments.

Those type of comments have been heard in the legislative session, she said, and they are made for political reasons.

“I wish they would stop throwing our names out there,” she said. “Again, I think it makes everybody nervous and we have spent some time making sure out constituents who are coming to Concord in the future know we are going to be here and we are going to be fine.”

Boggess said the college has 300 full-time employees and about 700 part-timers if student employees are counted.

“They give a remarkable return on investment,” she said. adding that Concord has an “obligation” to educate students, and 84 percent of Concord students are from West Virginia.

“Not every school can say that,” she said. “We are doing work that is important. We are following our mission. We have to be innovative and we have to be efficient. We are doing that.”

The school is an “investment in our young people,” she said. “We want to prepare students who come here to become citizens who will help build up the state.”

These are challenging times, she said, and she is optimistic state legislators can come together and find some solutions that will help the state grow and prosper.

Del. Marty Gearheart, R-Mercer, is one of those legislators and he also emphasized that “there is no validity” to any suggestion Concord will close.

In reaction to Justice’s comments about Concord and Fairmont, Gearheart said it was the Governor’s “childish blather when he’s trying to scare someone into doing what he wants.”

Gearheart said funding was in the last budget for Concord and it will be in the next one.

“It is just a scare tactic to get legislators on board with him,” he said. “It’s like some of the other scare tactics that he uses.”

Gearheart said there is no way any budget passed will defund Concord.

Both Delgates John Shott, R-Mercer, and Ed Evans, D-McDowell, also dismissed Justice’s comments.

Shott called it nothing more than a “heavy-handed ploy to try to intimidate people.”

Justice vetoed the budget from the Republican-controlled Legislature, which does include cuts to higher education, and will call a special budget session to try to reach some compromise.

The main issue is whether to primarily stick with cuts and money from the state’s “rainy day” fund to balance the budget, or raise revenue through tax and fee hikes with a minimum of cuts.

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