Wheeling Jesuit Worth Saving

Wheeling Jesuit University’s announcement that officials there have declared a “financial exigency” probably did not come as much of a shock to most area residents. WJU has had difficulty making ends meet for several years.

Exactly how serious the problem is now is not known outside a few university officials, including the board of trustees. WJU is a private institution.

It appears the words used by officials to describe the situation have some specialized meaning to the WJU community. University President Michael Mihalyo noted in a press release that the faculty handbook stipulates such a declaration can be made when there is a “critical, pressing or urgent need on the part of the university to reorder its monetary expenditures.”

What we do know is this: WJU has been an important — some would say vital, in one sense of that word — part of our community for many years. Its future is of concern not just to its approximately 1,150 students and the university’s staff, but also to the entire Wheeling community.

As we have pointed out in the past, WJU’s mission statement sets it apart from many other institutions of higher learning. While some content themselves with educating young people, WJU seeks also to instill in them qualities of leadership and a dedication to serving others.

It is unlikely government at the local, state and federal levels can do much to help the university. Again, it not a public institution. The outlook for aid and comfort from the private sector also is uncertain.

Those able to help should consider doing so, recognizing that, although WJU appears to be in serious need, every little bit of assistance is valuable.

For their part, university officials face difficult, perhaps heart-wrenching, choices. Let us hope they are made decisively and effectively. An institution of higher learning with the mission to send graduates out into the world “prepared to use their God-given talents not solely for personal fulfillment but as men and women in service to others” is worth saving.

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