Glenville State University President talks about higher education, issues facing students and universities

Dr. Manchin spoke about the some of the issues facing local and national universities.
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 8:54 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - We’re now well into the 2023 school year and the climate around higher education, especially here in West Virginia, has been a little heated.

In the past couple of years we’ve seen OVU, and more recently, Alderson Broaddus University shutdown. Now, WVU is in the middle of making cuts.

This isn’t an issue just here in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but nationwide.

The President of Glenville State University, Dr. Mark Manchin said GSU actually saw an increase in enrollment for this school year. He said enrollment is usually one of the first questions people ask about, and while it’s important, he said looking at the types of students they get is just as important.

“... For example, we’re up in every category. The number of students who are living in our dormitories, the number of students online, full time equivalencies, those are critical. So we’re up in every category. So, I’m glad to say that we’re up about 40 students. We got a number of students from Alderson Broaddus. So the school year started well. We’ve won two football games, the students all seem to be happy. The campus looks beautiful, and we’re just going to continue to do the best we can to make sure these young men and women get a good quality education.”

WTAP asked Dr. Manchin what Glenville does to make sure situations, like A.B. shutting down and WVU making cuts, doesn’t happen there. Dr. Manchin responded by saying it’s as much a business as it is an educational institution.

“... Give the customer what they want, right? So we want to make sure that these young men and women get a good quality education. There’s three major factors that we look at..... one is the health and safety of our students.”

“Second, we want make sure they get good quality education and prepare them for the future. It’s so important that these these students get a good foundation. Go out into this world prepared in order to be successful.”

“And third is is the college experience. We want to make sure they have a good time... I often joke with the students, “Look across that campus. Your future wife was walking across the campus, or your future husband is walking across a campus,” so sometimes we joke and it is funny.”

Dr. Manchin says the schools wants to give students a good atmosphere, saying that’s something they missed with COVID.

“The problems that we have and students couldn’t get out couldn’t interact. The college experience is is really a major foundation of of what we look at as well as as obviously preparing them for the future and and of course being safe.”

WTAP asked Dr. Manchin if GSU has seen similar situations, and if so, how they mitigated those issues.

“... Certainly in higher education generally there’s a headwind declining enrollment in our public schools, declining population, the state of West Virginia. Many students don’t feel the need to go on at higher education and we’ve got to recognize that there is nothing more important.”

Dr. Manchin says he’s bullish on education, but recognizes that college may not be the best option for every single person.

“I think they need post secondary education, but there’s still a large number of of of students and parents who who want their children to go on to be professions that require for your degree and a Masters level. So we’re going to continue to to work on that, grow our our program...”

“I think we’re lean, I think when a young man or young woman comes to Glenville State University, they’re going to get the the quality education they deserve to let them go out of this world. I often say that, other than the medical profession, there is no other profession [that] has a greater impact on people’s lives as education. You screw up in the medical profession, somebody could die. You screw up here, you’re sending a young man or young woman in this world, without the necessary skills to be successful in life and a lifetime of hopelessness and despair. We want to give him that hope. We want to give him that future, and that’s what Glenn State University is all about.”

When asked why he thinks these situation occurred at these schools, Dr. Manchin said it could be a number of reasons.

One thing he highlighted was a shift in thinking following COVID. Saying, that in general there may be a feeling that it’s no longer necessary to get a secondary education. He also pointed to management issues and not looking to the future enough.

“... So, I think it’s a combination of things. I think perhaps some bad management, not seeing the future quickly enough. And recognizing there’s a headwind, the headwind I already mentioned earlier, enrollment decline, population decline, the general belief that we don’t need to go to college anymore.”

Dr. Manchin said the students will need that secondary education to be able to go into the world and be competitive among several different fields.

“My my father would always say they can never take your education away from you, get an education. And it’s just a great opportunity. We’re here and what we provide at Glenville as far as tuition, the lowest in the state and you get a good quality education.”

Dr. Manchin pointed to the current economy making college financially difficult for some.

“... We want to make sure that these young men and women who want to go on and get that degree and go out into this world will have both the financial component, to make sure that they can afford it. And secondly, once they graduate that they can find a good paying job. There’s a direct line between college and college experience and college education.”

Dr. Manchin explained that they want to make sure students have multiple avenues into the workforce.

Looking into the future, Dr. Manchin said there are always going to be issues facing students and universities because we live in a volatile society.

He pointed to inflation causing stress, and said that competing in the job market will be important.

“My advice is get the education. They can never take that away from you,”

He also said that having the necessary skills to compete in the market is critical because our competition has become different. He explained that we are no longer just competing here in the West Virginia, but across the country and the world.

“And now technology has broadened our scope in the workforce. So we’ve got to be prepared for what the future holds. And many of the jobs that presently exist will not be here in 10 years. There will be a whole new set of of skills. So, we’re recognizing the future, preparing our young men and women for the future at Glenville State University. So we’re excited about that.”