Smaller higher education schools fear loss of autonomy

West Virginia lawmakers are keeping a close eye on how West Virginia and Marshall universities might interact with the state’s smaller colleges under proposals by a study group launched by Gov. Jim Justice.

West Virginia’s smaller colleges are already wondering how much, if any, autonomy they might give up.

“The smaller institutions are worried they’re going to be divided up among WVU and Marshall,” said Senate Minority Leader Roman Prezioso, D-Marion.

His district includes WVU and also the smaller Fairmont State. “The folks there are concerned,” Prezioso said.

That kind of concern has become more pronounced since the revelation of a draft report that recommends merging the governing boards of Bluefield State College and Concord University, and later for Glenville State College and West Virginia State University.

The report questioned whether the role of the current Higher Education Policy Commission is adequate.

“West Virginia now has no state-level entity with authority and power to maintain a balance among missions and to counter actions of either West Virginia University or Marshall University that have the potential to seriously undermine the regional institutions’ sustainability,” the consultant’s report said.

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