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MINUTES: October 26, 2018 Full Commission meeting


Summary notes from Blue Ribbon Commission on Higher Education

Meeting on October 26


Members participating: [Delegate Atkinson; Mr. Becker; President Boggess; Delegate Boggs; Ms. Cappellanti; Dr. Courts; Delegate Espinosa; Mr. Farrell; President Gee; President Gilbert; President Jenkins; Mr. Lee; Mr. Lewis; President Martin; Mr. Payne; Mr. White]


President Gee convened the meeting at 1:06 p.m. and asked Amy Garbrick to call the roll. 


President Gee then introduced Mr. Hunter Barclay, Marshall University Student Body President, an international affairs/pre-medicine major, and Chair of the Higher Education Student Advisory Council, to give a presentation on leveraging students as advocates for increased funding to higher education. Exclusively right here a person are normally pleasant, coupled with golden dragon you haven't any equivalent!


Mr. Barclay declared that a unified strategy is key to success in seeking increased funding.  He said student participation in the annual Higher Education Day is a good start but more advocacy work is needed.  He said he was working with his counterparts at other institutions to restructure Higher Education Day for 2019 so it is more effective.  Mr. Barclay said Blue Ribbon Commission members have an important role to play by helping to make connections between students and legislators.  He also observed that funding is about more than figures on a page.  Funding is what makes it possible for students to achieve their goals, and telling the stories about students achieving their goals is an effective way to illustrate the importance of higher education. 


Delegate Boggs commended Mr. Barclay for his presentation and his efforts to get students more involved.  He said that legislators benefited from hearing directly from students and, as far as he is concerned, every day should be Higher Education Day at the Legislature.


Mr. Becker asked Mr. Barclay about the students’ top priorities.


Mr. Barclay replied that tuition and fee increases and textbook affordability were at the top of the students’ list.  He identified the open-access textbook initiative as a promising way to reduce students’ textbook expenses.  He also said that keeping textbooks affordable is one way to boost student retention.


President Gee volunteered himself, President Boggess, and President Gilbert to help the students and serve on a steering committee if that would be useful.


Mr. Barclay thanked President Gee for this offer.  He also thanked HEPC staff, particularly Dr. Adam Green, for their help and guidance.


Delegate Espinosa thanked Mr. Barclay and said he looked forward to meeting him.  He went on to say that greater autonomy for campuses and bringing rationality to funding were important from his perspective—that a student at one institution is and should be worth the same as a student at another institution.


Mr. Farrell expressed pride in Mr. Barclay, citing his own experience as a Marshall University Student Body President himself.  He said that getting legislators on campus as often as possible was important because they need to see the good things that are occurring.  Mr. Farrell suggested students should make YouTube videos and send them to legislators to harness the power of technology as an advocacy tool.  He also said persistence was important and mentioned Marshall University’s Recreation Center as an example of a project made possible by persistence and the increased flexibility he helped to secure for Marshall under Senate Bill 603 in 2005.


President Gee thanked Mr. Barclay for his presentation, which is available on the commission website.  He then asked Mr. White for a report from the finance subcommittee.


Mr. White referred the commission to a one-page spreadsheet prepared by the subcommittee (spreadsheet available on the commission website).  He said the subcommittee had two goals: (1) to look at the current funding and recommend a strategy for stabilizing institutions as an interim step; and (2) to look at a longer-term funding formula.  He said the spreadsheet addresses the first of these goals.  The spreadsheet outlines the amounts to be allocated, per weighted, in-state FTE, to seven institutions (Glenville State, Concord, West Virginia State, West Liberty, Bluefield State, Shepherd, and Fairmont State) from the $10 million in “recalibration” funding.  He acknowledged the initial proposal from President Gilbert and said discussions within the subcommittee led to some adjustments to President Gilbert’s proposal that led to the recommendation the subcommittee was making today.  Mr. White then asked Mr. Lewis to explain the recommendation.


Mr. Lewis described the methodology the subcommittee used to develop the spreadsheet, specifically the weighting of dual enrollment students at 30% because the expense to educate these students is less than students who are on campus full-time.  He said the goal of the recommendation was equity across the seven institutions in terms of weighted, in-state FTE.


Mr. White said the source of the $10 million would be up to the Governor and Legislature.  The subcommittee’s recommendation provides the methodology for allocating these funds, if available.  The “recalibration” allocation would be made in 2018-2019, became part of the institutions’ base budgets for 2019-2020, and a long-term funding formula building on this base would be necessary for 2020-2021 and beyond.


President Martin added that new funding could come from the state’s surplus, not the Governor’s contingency funds, and thus could be available in January. 


President Gee said the recommendation annualized the amounts, since the “recalibration” allocation for 2018-2019 would occur mid-year.  He also said this was an arithmetic proposal from the subcommittee and as such is an interim step.  The long-term funding formula will need to take into account many things, such as different missions, academic program mix, populations served (including out-of-state students), and geography for all institutions.


President Martin said this “recalibration” proposal is focused on in-state students, should be effective in January and become part of the base going forward, and would give policymakers the time to develop the long-term formula prior to 2020.


Mr. Lee asked what net effect this proposal would have on students and whether the “recalibration” would lower the cost of tuition. 


President Gee offered that more money coming from the state should lower the costs for the students.


Mr. Lee reiterated the need for the commission to hear from faculty.  He said it can be expensive to send instructors to rural areas but this is important because it is a way to increase access and promote dual enrollment.  He supports an increase in funding but he wants to see it translated into benefit for students.


President Gee reminded the commission that WVU and Marshall took more than half of the total cuts to higher education in recent years.


President Martin thanked President Gee and President Gilbert for shouldering the majority of those cuts.  She also expressed her desire that the Legislature would provide funding for deferred maintenance, which is a serious issue on every campus.  She considers the subcommittee’s proposal the first step in the process.  She also pointed out that nine institutions endorsed the proposal. 


Mr. White said that Mr. Lee’s point about benefiting students is well taken.  He observed that financial conditions of many institutions have been deteriorating and this “recalibration” assures the security of the education received by students by stabilizing the financial conditions at the institutions.


Delegate Atkinson asked if the subcommittee’s spreadsheet and recommendation should take into account future declines in population in rural areas.


President Martin replied that this “recalibration” gets the regional institutions to parity.  It is not the long-term formula, which presumably will address future changes in population.


Mr. Lee said there were special needs in the southern part of the state.  He and his organization are doing what they can to increase the number of teachers and reduce shortages.  He supports the subcommittee’s proposal but he wants to ensure the long-term formula addresses the needs of all geographic areas and economic levels.


Delegate Boggs asked Mr. Barclay to put up the map of the state from his presentation with the location of the institutions marked.  He said his goal from the beginning has been to represent all of higher education.  He has a son at Marshall and a daughter at WVU, so he is not only focused on Glenville.  In looking at the map, however, he said central West Virginia is underserved.  He expressed concern that the “recalibration” proposal, by allocating only $40,000 for Glenville and the half-million dollar gap between Glenville and the next school on the list, will send the signal that Glenville is under attack and create a deterrent for students and faculty to come to Glenville.


President Martin asked if the Legislature places a higher premium on some schools and students at some schools over others.  This proposal is designed to bring parity to the seven regional institutions and correct the historical imbalances.


President Gee then asked Mr. Payne for a report from the governance subcommittee. 


Mr. Payne recounted the meeting that morning with the regional institutions presidents and described the session as very useful.  He said there was general agreement about what is needed.  There is interest in increased flexibility in some areas, a strong belief and confidence in the capacity of local board of governors, and the importance of representation on any state board from all institutions.  He said the subcommittee would take this feedback and draw from it in developing a proposal that will be shared with the full commission during the meeting on November 15.


President Gee then asked Mr. Farrell for a report from the collaborations subcommittee.


Mr. Farrell said collaboration requires agreement about mission.  He expressed concern that we have an “us versus them,” tribal mentality in West Virginia higher education.  Referring the commission members to his PowerPoint presentation, which is available on the commission website, he said HEPC was created to promote collaboration and that we need to develop the collaborative platforms so we can serve all students.  He suggested that the competition for “my student” blinds us to the opportunity for “our student” or “the student.”  He identified barriers to collaboration, including lack of trust, scarcity of students, inadequate funding, trend of decreasing state support, and cost of deferred maintenance.  He provided examples of higher education’s potential collaborators, ranging from businesses and unions to the State Department of Commerce and the State Chamber of Commerce.  He suggested that academe talking to business will help to generate new resources and revenues.  He said one good example of a collaborative platform is HEPC’s GEAR-Up grant, which reaches poor and disadvantaged students and serves many of the objectives of collaboration.  He reiterated that all of the various constituencies for higher education need to be talking with each other and that we must communicate before we can collaborate.


President Gee asked Mr. Farrell how his subcommittee was addressing the differences between the 2-year and 4-year systems.


Mr. Farrell replied that he believes West Virginia actually has three systems: WVU and Marshall, the regional 4-year institutions, and the 2-year system.  He referred to his involvement with helping to create these systems working on legislation in 2005 while he was interim president at Marshall.  He said all three of these systems need to work together.  He invited feedback from all commission members and that his goal was to present recommendations by November 15.


President Jenkins agreed with the importance of collaboration and asked how we can reach the parents as part of our efforts. 


Mr. Lee told the commission that what students and parents in southern West Virginia want is hope and that hope depends in part on college being affordable.


President Gee thanked everyone for a robust discussion.  Looking ahead, he reminded the commission that the next meeting will be a conference call on November 15.  The commission will meet in person at Steptoe and Johnson’s Bridgeport office on November 27.  The deadline for the commission to submit its report and recommendations to the Governor and Legislature is December 10. 


Mr. White asked if the commission would endorse the finance subcommittee’s $10 million “recalibration” proposal as outlined on the subcommittee’s spreadsheet.


President Gee asked for a motion.  Mr. White so moved, President Martin seconded the motion.  The commission voted in favor.  Mr. Farrell voted against the proposal and expressed the need for a better methodology to take into account the needs of Glenville State.


President Gee adjourned the meeting at 3:05 p.m.