Private, nontraditional institutions of higher learning fill a vital role in our state, as generations of graduates have discovered. Students who decide such schools are the best place for them to gain degrees that will propel them into the careers of their choice do so because they believe their needs will not be met in more traditional post-secondary settings.
But even nontraditional schools fall under the oversight of the Higher Education Policy Commission, in order to ensure students – and parents – are being protected. Last week, that commission took another look at three schools that had been under review since April, in order to determine whether they were worthy of reauthorization. Ohio Valley University, in Vienna, was among those gaining reauthorization.
In granting the reauthorization, however, commission members expressed concern, saying OVU’s financial situation is “weak” and “fragile,” with only $330,000 in net assets and liabilities exceeding $2.2 million as of last year.
Though the commission said it believed the school’s reform plan can resolve that problem, there is still a great deal of concern.
Members noted the university has challenges with assessing student learning, finances, faculty and staff evaluation, the associate degree programs, the general education program and program review.
OVU officials had better not take this reauthorization, and the commission’s concerns, lightly. The faith-based institution has a great deal of work ahead if it is to resolve such a glaring financial imbalance.
Just two years ago, Mountain State University was forced to shut down after years of being unable to solve some very big problems that proved too much for the HEPC.
But President of Ohio Valley University Harold Shank maintains the school has a five-year strategic plan in place to correct its problems.
It would be a shame if OVU, which offers so much good to the students who choose it for their educations, was unable to avoid the same fate. Surely officials are putting the school’s best minds to the problem right this moment.