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Meeting State Deadlines at WU

During a month filled with bad news for area residents, there was a ray of sunshine last Friday: Wheeling University was given permission by the state Higher Education Policy Commission to remain in operation.

But that approval is conditional. The next few months will be critical ones in meeting the HEPC’s requirements.

All degree-granting institutions of higher learning in West Virginia must be authorized by the HEPC. Had the commission said no on Friday, WU’s fate would have be sealed.

Support from Gov. Jim Justice and U.S. Rep. David McKinley, R-West Virginia, probably played a role in the HEPC decision. Both have vowed they will not stay by idly while WU closes.

Again, however, the HEPC placed conditions on its reauthorization. By Oct. 18, university officials must provide a five-year plan to remain viable financially. A month later, they must show even more financial information, along with enrollment projections for the future. By Sept. 13, WU must give the HEPC a plan for how it would handle closure, should that become unavoidable.

It is the first deadline — Aug. 23 — that may present a serious obstacle. By then, WU must have ready a “teach-out” plan — one by which students enrolled in programs terminated by the university can be helped.

No doubt a substantial amount of work on that has been completed already. But having an acceptable plan in place may require partnerships with other institutions of higher learning that are able to accept transferring WU students.

Officials at other colleges and universities serving our area should do all they can to help in that regard. If they will cooperate, WU should be able to meet the “teach-out” deadline. They should do just that.

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