NAACP Wants WEST VIRGINIA State to be granted University status
The state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wants historically Black West Virginia State College to become a university, which a leading legislator says is part of a logical next step to improving higher education.
“There is lots of merit to the idea,” says Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, chairman of the House Finance Committee’s higher education subcommittee. “I believe that almost all the state colleges should be universities.”
The annual state conference of the NAACP was held last month in Harpers Ferry.
“We are very, very concerned with the future of West Virginia State College,” says James Tolbert, president of the state NAACP.
West Virginia State is the only 1891 land-grant school in the nation that is not a university, says Charles Byers, vice president for planning and advancement.
Any college can become a university by offering at least one post-baccalaureate program. Universities, particularly land-grant schools, are eligible for more research grants than colleges.
Doyle says the state needs to expand its graduate curriculum statewide.
“We are 50th in the nation in the percentage of people with master’s degrees. It is holding our economy down. Companies look at us and one of the things they see is an undereducated population,” Doyle says.
The Legislature began restructuring higher education this year with a new law that focuses on work-force development and improving community colleges. Part of that law may lead to freestanding community colleges not controlled by four-year schools. West Virginia State wants to keep its community college, which the NAACP also supports (see Black Issues, July 20).
In the 2001 legislative session, Doyle says he will propose expanding graduate programs and making West Virginia State, West Liberty College, Concord College, Shepherd College and Fairmont State College universities.
Of the 199 baccalaureate institutions under the Southern Regional Education Board, only 12 are state colleges. Of those, seven are in West Virginia.
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