WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Feb. 6, 2020 — West Liberty University Vice President of Institutional Advancement Jason Koegler took part in a panel discussion held this past Tuesday at Wheeling University that looked at the challenges facing Ohio Valley education today.
“I was pleased to take part in this discussion and represent West Liberty University. It was a great way to voice our concerns and share our success with up and coming leaders,” said Koegler.
WLU Alumnus Tate Blanchard served as the panel moderator.
Hosted by the Wheeling Area Chamber of Commerce, the panel discussion was part of its annual Leadership Wheeling class programming. Leadership Wheeling is a weekly session that offers participants a close look at community institutions and businesses, while developing leadership and networking skills with other leaders.
Other schools and participants taking part in the panel included: Jeff Strader, vice president and chief financial officer at Wheeling University; Justin Zimmerman, headmaster of Linsly School; Elizabeth Hofreuter-Landini, head of school at Wheeling Country Day; Leah Stout, director of special education for Ohio County Schools; Mary Ann Deschaine, superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Wheeling and Charleston; and Dr. Daniel Mosser, president of West Virginia Northern Community College.
The importance of training and retaining talent and the importance of marketable skills dominated much of the discussion.
The educators acknowledged that technology has resulted in great strides in education, but they also lamented how handheld technology has shifted the social skills of current students.
The fact that higher education is adapting beyond the idea of a traditional college student being between 18 and 23 and recognizing changing community needs was also brought up.
Koegler said that Teacher Preparation and education was the most popular major on his campus until recently when the sciences took the lead.
Likewise, Mosser of West Virginia Northern acknowledged the need to offer certifications, such as in the tech field, to make students more marketable.
The leaders agreed on the importance of collaborative efforts between the institutions, such as the agreement announced by Bethany, Wheeling, and West Liberty signed this past December that allows students to take one class each semester at one of the other institutions at no additional cost while still receiving credit at their home institution.
The local economy and declining population also present challenges, the leaders said.
For example, the closing of Ohio Valley Medical Center displaced several nursing students at West Liberty and the students drive to Pittsburgh, Koegler said. (Pittsburgh is about 60 minutes from campus.)
Mental health is one of the biggest challenges facing students of all ages today, and the leaders advocated a “whole student” approach to teaching help address those needs.