Associated Press Published

West Virginia Increases Autonomy of Universities

Woodburn Hall

Gov. Jim Justice has signed a law revamping state oversight of West Virginia’s colleges and universities, giving some schools more autonomy from West Virginia’s Higher Education Policy Commission.Woodburn Hall

Institutions exempted from certain regulatory requirements are West Virginia University, including West Virginia University Potomac State College and West Virginia University Institute of Technology, Marshall University and the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.

The measure, proposed by his administration and approved by the Legislature, gives the experts at the institutions more power to make decisions instead of state officials, Justice said. It gives the academy a larger role in devising policy, he said.

“My belief is just this, we’ve got real expertise if we’ll just listen, if we’ll just stop and listen,” Justice said after the signing Tuesday. “Because these people on the front lines, they’re not doing it for fun. And they’ve got real knowledge. And a lot of times we just think we’re higher than their knowledge.

WVU President Gordon Gee told The Associated Press it will save his university $2.8 million it will no longer pay to the commission plus other costs from state administrative requirements.

“It returns autonomy to set policy and manage the university to the board of governors,” Gee said. “All three schools have the bandwidth to be able to manage their own affairs.”

The amendment to current law also specifies that three members of the 10-member commission will be designated as higher education representatives, appointed by the governor with Senate confirmation.