by Kyle Kessell
Jeff Olson, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, went to the West Virginia’s State Capitol Building on March 15 during legislation in hopes to save the budget for WVU Parkersburg. Olson was accompanied by two students; Samantha Byers and Ryan Whytsell; two faculty members, Gary Thompson and Mary Beth Held; President Lamkin and representatives from the Alumni Association and Student Services. The goal of the trip to Charleston was to promote the importance of higher education in West Virginia, in particular, the importance of not cutting the budget for WVU Parkersburg once again.
Over the past 36 months, the state has cut the school’s funding a whopping $1.5 million. In an effort to keep the budget from going any lower, Vice President Olson and the faculty have been working diligently to make sure the school is spending its money wisely to help keep the already established programs from suffering any more budget cuts. The hope is that the state will run the risk of missed opportunities to generate revenue by educating our own to the jobs that will bring in money to our state without the continued success of these programs at the college.
The Capitol Building and the rotunda were filled from the House to the Senate with public institutions from all over the state with the same concerns as WVU Parkersburg. The concern of their budget getting cut and having to face the possibility of losing appropriated funding that may cost the institutions in loss of enrollment, but more importantly, the loss of these student’s education. This is not lost on Governor Jim Justice or the rest of the representatives from our state, but higher education is not the only program in jeopardy of taking a cut, and it is hard to find time to talk to them about the importance of a specific school. Even on a day designed to give these institutions the chance to voice their concerns, the Capitol can be incredibly loud with a swirling of all different voices mixing together like a cheap perfume. To separate themselves from the rest of the noise confusion, Olson, and everyone who attended the day with him, invited the 18 representatives in our region to a grab and go box lunch. Inside the boxes were handwritten materials that gave the representatives more than just a 20-second talk on the matter of budget cuts to the college.
Jeff Olson is very hopeful that the college’s efforts did not go in vain and is very thankful for all who have helped out during higher education day. He especially wants to thank Anthony Underwood who coordinated the event and participated on our behalf. Underwood also went down the night before to set up and was crucial in making sure that everything the college had planned went smoothly. It should also be mentioned how important Olson thought it was that we had Byers and Whystell as student representatives. It is easy to look on paper and make cuts, but to see the students that the cuts will affect brings it into a different light.
Photo Credit: James Liebau II