The public cannot afford redundancies
The merger of Bridgemont Community and Technical College with Kanawha Valley Community and Technical College is a logical progression that will improve education in the Kanawha Valley.
The two community colleges serve overlapping communities, share some administrative services, but do not have overlapping curricula. This should make the transition smooth as satin.
Bridgemont, in Montgomery, concentrates on providing education in technological fields. Kanawha Valley, in South Charleston, offers education in health care fields.
This is by design. When the colleges were spun off from West Virginia University Institute of Technology in Montgomery and West Virginia State University in Institute, officials decided to work together so their programs would not be redundant.
The merger will take place next January. The schools will keep their present campuses and will oversee construction of the $15 million Advantage Valley Advance Technology Center in the West Virginia Regional Technology Park.
This development will give students and faculty plenty of space. The merger should reduce the overhead for the college.
With Kanawha Valley President Joseph Badgeley retiring, Bridgemont president Beverly Jo Harris will head the new college.
"What you will see in this one new combined institution will be a very strong, comprehensive community college that will be able to deliver health programs in the Montgomery area, technology programs in the South Charleston area and really create a dynamic flow of opportunity for our students," Harris told the South Charleston Economic Development Authority.
The Charleston area has an older population. The average age of a worker is 53. That increases the need to train a new generation of workers to take over those jobs when people retire.
In addition, the demographics increase demand for health care workers to take care of those retirees.
In pushing for legislation this spring to enable this merger, Badgley and Harris put students and the community first.
The multi-campus model envisioned in this case is being used elsewhere in the state, and other colleges and universities across the state should explore similar possibilities.
Public support for higher education is limited, as are the opportunities for tuition increases.
Finding efficiencies is a must for higher education.