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Charleston Daily Mail
Friday May 18, 2012
by Dave Boucher
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Dr. Paul Hill was been chosen to serve as the next chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission. The commission announced it had selected Hill during a Friday morning meeting.
“I’m quite honored to be able to do this,” Hill said after the meeting.
Hill had served as interim chancellor since January, and worked before that as the commission’s vice chancellor for science and research since 2007. Prior to his work with the commission Hill was appointed by then-President Bill Clinton to serve as Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
“His extensive knowledge of West Virginia and broad experience in government at the state and federal levels and in higher education at the institutional and system levels have prepared him well to lead the state’s higher education system,” commission Chairman David Hendrickson said in a statement.
Plans are already in motion to set the course for the commission’s future, Hill said. The commission’s five-year master plan will expire at the end of the year, and Hill said he and his staff are already working to establish another plan.
He also wants to focus on the low graduation and retention rates at colleges and universities in the state. Many students drop out during their second year in higher education, he said, and it will be important for the commission to find ways to encourage students to complete their education.
With the dropout rate and fewer West Virginia students attending college, Hill said he would like to also focus on increasing the number of international students. Right now, universities don’t have the manpower to wade through the paperwork necessary to ensure that international students can study in West Virginia, Hill said. They also lack the funds to recruit such students, something he wants the commission to do as well.
By adding international students, Hill said universities accomplish two goals: The institutions can increase declining enrollment, but also create a more culturally diverse environment for both international and local students.
“It’s a very positive outcome if we can achieve some support,” Hill said.
The biggest challenge facing Hill is funding for the universities. He said divvying dollars is always an issue for the commission as public funding for institutions continues to decline.
The chancellor’s salary has not been set, but commission spokesperson Ashley Schumaker said negotiations between Hill and the board are under way.
Hill was one of three finalists for the position that was vacated by Dr. Brian Noland. Noland left the commission to become the president of East Tennessee State University.