West Liberty University President Robin Capehart said this is a challenging time for higher education in West Virginia and encouraged faculty and staff to work together to form an effective, strategic plan during his State of the University address Wednesday.
Capehart quoted the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., saying, "Today our very survival depends on our ability to stay awake, to adjust to new ideas, to remain vigilant and to face the challenge of change."
A few of the Hilltop's challenges include a reduction in its state appropriation of at least $1.6 million and a steady demographic shift of college-age residents leaving the state.
"Yet, despite these escalating challenges, we're pleased to report that the state of our university is strong," Capehart said, noting that for seven years WLU has enjoyed enrollment growth.
But King's advice to "stay awake" is something Capehart said the university must take to heart to survive and continue growing. In order to do this Capehart said the institution began a two-year strategic planning process called FOCUS 2020.
But last year's strategic planning did not yield an effective plan, Capehart said, due to lack of coordination between different departments.
"Working together and planning for our future is important," Capehart told his colleagues. "I can't urge you enough to look for opportunities to become a part of this process."
Capehart said the University Planning Council will begin in October to regularly review the strategic plan and offer advice and guidance to execute it. He said representatives will include faculty, administrative leaders, classified staff and students.
Before Capehart's address the university recognized staff members with exemplary service through a series of awards based on years of service and quality of educational work.