By Bob Weaver|
A report released last week by two conservative government watchdog organizations claims $330 million in wasteful spending by state agencies, calling for the closure of colleges like Glenville State College and Bluefield State College.
I find it incomprehensible that any group would assemble very dated "musings" and portray the information as relevant, factual, and serious," said Peter Barr, president of Glenville State.
The report was produced by the Koch brothers-backed Taxpayers Protection Alliance and state partner, the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.
The lobbying groups did say their "Wild and Wasteful West Virginia" paper was essentially a compilation of previously published reports by the state Legislative Auditor's Office, as well as a number of news items on government spending, and was not based on studies.
READ: CONSERVATIVE WATCHDOG GROUPS CALL FOR CLOSING GLENVILLE STATE COLLEGE - Moody's Downgrade GSC's Bonds
West Virginia has the lowest percentage of college graduates in the country (17%) and central West Virginia is even lower (10%), with President Barr saying, "I cannot tell you how many times we have been told by alums that if it hadn't been for Glenville, they never would have gone to college."
Barr said Glenville State College plays a vital role in the education of West Virginians and the overall economic development of the region.
A study conducted in 2010 by the WVU Bureau of Economic Research showed that for every dollar invested by the state into GSC there is a return on investment of $24 in payroll taxes and associated business activity (the highest of any college or university in the state).
GSC has the highest percentage of graduates remaining in the state than any other college or university.
Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the rating on Glenville State College's 2011A lease-backed bonds to B1 with a negative outlook.
"The downgrade reflects expectations of ongoing financial pressure resulting from softening student demand, diminishing state funding, and a relatively inflexible expense base," says the report.
President Barr, commenting on Moody's downgrading bond status for the college said, "GSC has never missed a bond payment or defaulted on any obligations. Moody's evaluation is ultra conservative and focuses on trends over the past four years."
"GSC has increased enrollment over 400 students in the last ten years and current applications are up 12%. We do not envision any adverse reaction to the rating," said Barr.
Barr went on to say that despite approximately 20% in reduction of state funds to GSC over the past three years, the institution has continued to provide a quality education to its students.
He said GSC's Hidden Promise Scholars program uniquely adapts the college experience to low-tomoderate-income students, many of whom are first-generation.
The six year graduation rate of Hidden Promise Scholars is five times higher than the national rate of students who are both low income and first generation. The first-to-second year retention rates for Hidden Promise Scholars at GSC is 60% higher than the first-to-second year retention rate of other GSC freshmen.
The percentage of high school Hidden Promise Scholars that go to college is 33% higher than the average college-going rate of other West Virginia high school seniors.
GSC provides over $2 million annually in scholarships and financial aid, directly injecting funds and educational opportunity into central West Virginia.