CommunityConcerns™: Dr. Pellett, GSC’s and Gilmer County’s Survival Hinges On Your Leaders
Should GSC close, Glenville and the remainder of the County would become more of an economic wasteland than it is now. Conditions in the County are worse off than in decades.
Evidence includes closed businesses on Main Street and the only grocery store in the County is floundering with rows of empty shelves.
There are increasing numbers of abandoned houses in Glenville and the outlying area to demonstrate the population’s downward spiral.
The indicator to exemplify the County’s economic plight is the dearth of jobs paying a living wage necessary to support a family.
Another indicator of advanced economic deterioration is the near impossibility of selling residential property with more sellers resorting to auctioning at sacrifice prices.
Regardless of assurances by spokespersons from the hill that GSC is thriving and its future is secure, the evidence is unconvincing.
Consider the status of enrollment.
The WV Higher Education Policy Commission reports full time equivalent (FTE) enrollments for colleges and universities.
Total FTEs for an institution equate to credit hours taken by all its students divided by 15.
The reason for FTEs is that without use of a standard accounting method there is too much latitude for how enrollments are tabulated and reported.
For GSC, FTEs for the past five reporting years declined from 1460 to 1223 representing a 16.23% decline.
When WV’s institutions of higher learning are cited for vulnerability, GSC is always listed.
One reason is that WV has dwindling numbers of college bound high school graduates each year.
With competition for students intensifying there is concern that unless urgently needed improvements are made at GSC, future enrollments will not generate enough money to keep the doors open.
Another issue was reported in an article in the Charleston Gazette-Mail on March 27, 2017. GSC had an alarming 172% tuition increase during the past 15 years to be the highest among WV’s colleges and universities.
It was not reported if any measurable benefits were achieved from the increase to improve GSC’s survival status.
It is known that an ambitious and costly building and facilities modernization program occurred at GSC during the 15-year period.
Were the steep tuition increases motivated by the necessity to pay off the multimillion dollar bond debt for the program or are there other explanations the Gilmer County community should know?
Dr. Pellett, GSC’s new president, has an unparalleled opportunity. He could implement effective measures to establish the College as West Virginia’s show piece for offering academic programs to prepare graduates for immediate employment.
That achievement would be monumental in WV because approximately 50% of new graduates fail to get employment in fields for their college majors.
By establishing GSC as a magnet for college students interested in preparing for existing jobs, enrollment would increase, GSC’s future would be secured as it expands in size, and the County’s economic status would accelerate as a direct benefit.
The down side would be that Dr. Pellett would have to cull some of GSC’s programs and to beef up others. That would thrust him into a delicate position. However, outstanding leaders have the courage and strength of character to function that way to achieve institutional success.
We trust that Dr. Pellett is one of those leaders.
One example of an opportunity for Dr. Pellett would be to reconfigure GSC to become WV’s unequaled flagship institution for teacher training. The need exists, teaching positions abound, and the idea merits serious consideration.