Last week, Mr. M. L. Wilson presented information that used Wheeling University as an example of how public institutions of higher learning have an unfair advantage over private colleges in our state.
It’s true that public universities in West Virginia reap the rewards of state funding and have the ability to “crowd out” colleges like Wheeling because they can offer a cheaper education than private ones. However, while we agree with Mr. Wilson in his concern to crowd out private colleges, we find it necessary to share our belief that public institutions cannot provide students with a mission-based education – an education that not only provides instruction in the student’s major, but a foundation in faith, ethics, and service to others.
In May 2022, HEPC staff conducted an on-site visit to the WU campus in response to complaints they received about the university. Student complaints stemmed from unacceptable delays in processing delayed transcripts and diplomas, among other personnel issues. Additionally, as a result of COVID, the university has found itself in a position that many other businesses across the country were also in – difficulty hiring, as evidenced by staffing and service issues. to students.
The Board approved Wheeling University’s interim reauthorization with specific requirements for the following year, to which the university responded appropriately, including quarterly financial statements, enrollment projections, and staff additions. Wheeling University is grateful to HEPC for its continued support and guidance related to the interim reaffirmation of reaccreditation. As always, the university is strongly committed to working proactively with HEPC for the well-being of WU students, their families, and the communities it serves. The Higher Education Policy Commission develops and oversees a public policy curriculum for West Virginia’s four-year colleges and universities. In addition, it serves as a source of support for these institutions and their students in matters such as academic affairs, human resources, legal services, student affairs and others.
The Commission, under the direction of Dr. Sarah Armstrong Tucker, Chancellor of Higher Education of West Virginia, and Dr. Randall Brumfield, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs, works with institutions to accomplish their missions and carry out the procedures of the ‘State. We are proud of the work that has taken place here over the past three years, work that had the opportunity to happen because the HEPC re-authorized WU in August 2019 and the support of Governor Jim Justice, who took time out of their extraordinarily busy schedule to visit our campus during this crucial time. He and Congressman David McKinley, Mayor Glenn Elliot, Vice Mayor Chad Thalman and former Councilman Wendy Scatterday shared their support for this institution and its significant value to the City of Wheeling. They recognize, among other things, the value of Wheeling University as the only campus-based Catholic university in the state of West Virginia.
I practiced seeing both HEPC and the Higher Education Commission as organizations committed to seeing higher education institutions operate successfully in accordance with policy and procedures. We have worked diligently to align this university with these policies and procedures under their direction. Both agencies have been invaluable in resurrecting Wheeling University. Our working relationship is evidenced by the fact that Wheeling was the proud recipient of a $538,738 Nursing Program Expansion Grant administered by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission to support the development of a Accelerated 16-month Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The grant enabled our university to open a new, state-of-the-art medical care simulation lab featuring virtual anatomy tables, digital mannequins, and iPad-based bedside patient care equipment.
Although founded in the Catholic faith, Wheeling University welcomes students of all faiths and backgrounds and those with no religious affiliation. Wheeling University emphasizes academic excellence and service to others. Wheeling’s mission to educate men and women for and among others has not changed since the university was founded in 1954. Service is part of that mission, and Wheeling University prides itself on the fantastic work volunteer community service that our students provide to the City of Wheeling. and its surrounding communities.
Like other Catholic universities, Wheeling empowers our students to address global issues such as poverty, hunger, and injustice. Wheeling believes its mission and purpose is integral human development, a concept of Catholic social teaching that pursues the holistic development of the whole person. It involves a commitment to promoting human dignity and caring for the mind, body and spirit of the person. Wheeling is committed to nurturing a culture of performance, respect and cooperation among our people in the Catholic tradition of cura personalis, “caring for the whole person”, spiritually, socially, culturally and economical.
While many smaller colleges are working vigorously to survive difficult times, we have seen the closure of two universities locally. Urbana University closed in the spring of 2020 and Ohio Valley University abruptly closed in December 2021. We have all been made aware of the plight of former students and alumni of the University of the Ohio Valley. Recently, according to the Times Union, a Facebook page set up to provide post-school closure updates said it was not possible to provide transcripts because the system had been hacked and its files had been deleted. Whether this is accurate or not, it is unfortunate that 60 years of transcripts are not accessible to former OVU students and graduates.
To better serve our students, Wheeling University has officially outsourced all transcripts and degrees. The contract with Parchment will enable our students and graduates to efficiently and securely request, verify and share their transcripts and diplomas, now and in the future. We want to leave nothing to chance and believe that outsourcing transcripts and diplomas will ensure that no student is left behind. All transcripts will be electronically accessible and available to order at a link on the university’s website. Additionally, upon award, all diplomas will be printed and shipped directly from Parchment to graduates. Students will also have the option of ordering duplicates as well as digital diplomas.
Since Governor Justice and Chancellor Tucker’s visit to Wheeling, the university has experienced significant enrollment growth, including substantial increases in non-traditional, transfer, first-generation, and international students, reflecting the university’s commitment to global culture and diversity. , the development of academic programs and professional certificates, the upgrading of the campus and the creation of a center for student success and career development. In 2019, Wheeling University became one of only 12 diocesan-sponsored Catholic universities in the nation. Additionally, Wheeling University was recently named to Forbes magazine’s “success stories” list as one of several dozen colleges that have seen their financial ratings improve during the pandemic. We are one of the few institutions to significantly improve its overall score in financial administration. Wheeling University improved its financial rating from D to B-, but our goal remains to be at the top of these rankings.
Private education has considerable value and in today’s society it is needed more than ever. Institutions like Wheeling University can give our future leaders an education that grounds them in a faith-based mission that challenges them to think clearly, think for themselves, and balance knowledge with spirituality. . Now we need parents to embrace private education and the values we are proud of by sending their children to our institutions. It’ll stem the tide of pushing us out.
Ginny Favede is president of the University of Wheeling.