Valley needs representation

Major changes in West Virginia’s network of four-year public colleges and universities may be on the horizon.

What they may be will depend largely on recommendations by a group established by Gov. Jim Justice.

Earlier this month, Justice appointed 12 people to his Blue Ribbon Commission on Four-Year Higher Education.

Not a single one is from the Northern Panhandle or the mid-Ohio Valley.

That is not to say the panel is not a distinguished one. It is co-chaired by West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Jerome Gilbert and Concord University President Kendra Boggess.

Each chamber of the state Legislature is to name three more members of the commission — but none will have voting power.

For years, legislators have been discussing whether the state needs all its existing four-year institutions, at least in their current forms. The likelihood is that state support of some will be reduced.

That makes it vital that no region of the state lack representation on the commission.

State Senate President Mitch Carmichael, R-Jackson; and House of Delegates Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha; should do something about that. At least one of the panel’s legislative members should be from our area. Even if that person cannot vote, he or she can give us — and in the Northern Panhandle, our reliance on West Liberty University — a voice.

More appropriate would be an expansion of the commission by the governor. Justice should give that serious consideration.