Cooperation will lead to state success - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Cooperation will lead to state success

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    As our state's business leaders gather at The Greenbrier this week for the 2014 West Virginia Business Summit, we hope they have a sense of urgency and realize what they must do to bring this state into the 21st century.
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  • Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Political bickering overshadows need for change

    Friday, August 15 2014 11:39 AM EDT2014-08-15 15:39:41 GMT
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.
    New ideas and ways to move our state and nation forward are in short supply during this election season.

West Virginia University and Marshall University are two great schools that each have very important missions — to train and educate students from the Mountain State and beyond to be leaders.

Because they are the two biggest schools in a very small state, a natural rivalry has developed. This competition has not been confined to athletic venues. It’s played out elsewhere, often leading to tension, and sporadic bouts of outright hostility, between the two schools.

Enter WVU President E. Gordon Gee and Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp. Rather than fall further apart, these two are directing their institutions to enter a new era of cooperation.

We support this move and say that it is long, long overdue. Gee recently visited Huntington and Marshall. He and Kopp met privately and then Kopp took Gee on a campus tour, pointing out several of the school’s new construction projects and what they’re doing to expand and grow the institution. During a news conference hosted by Marshall, Gee — who served as WVU president in the early 1980s — remembered the “hand-to-hand combat” between the two schools. It’s clear those days are behind us.

Kopp and Gee announced plans to work with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and the West Virginia Legislature to stem continued budget cuts to higher education. They also plan to find new, innovative ways to collaborate.

Kopp and Gee are assets not only to their schools, but also the entire state. Gee is more than a winning smile and a bow tie. He is one of the most respected and dynamic executives in his field. It’s clear that Kopp sees Marshall as more than just a stepping stone. He has been a committed leader for the Green and White for a number of years, with a tenure marked by improvement and problem solving. Rather than fight and bicker, the two men see the future as a place where the schools can find common ground. This will assuredly benefit their schools and, more importantly, make our state stronger. If only other state leaders would follow their lead.

Moving forward means making our young people — and all those who want to pursue an education — ready for life in the 21st century. Gee and Kopp clearly understand this. Being a college president is no easy task. Donors need to be kept happy, faculty and staff must be empowered and students must be both welcomed and challenged. Rather than get mired down in politics and sneering, these schools and these two men are standing strong for a better West Virginia.