Last week, West Virginia University looked to expand its footprint in widely different ways.
On July 2, Metro News reported that WVU hospitals planned to purchase Potomac Valley Hospital in Keyser from its owner Hal McBee. It would join several other regional hospitals that recently joined the WVU Hospital system, including facilities in Martinsburg and Charles Town. Since patients with serious conditions often get referrals from Keyser to Morgantown, this is expected to streamline the process.
It may also cut the number of patient referrals from Keyser to facilities in Cumberland.
West Virginia University also expressed an interest in buying a minority share of the Green Bank Observatory, according to a July 1 press release by Representative Nick Rahall.
The National Science Foundation communicated its possible termination of support over the next five years from the state of the art radio telescope. While no final decision has been made, the university expressed interest in supporting its operations.
Green Bank's telescope monitors radio wave sources from across the universe. It can discern valuable information about stars, galaxies, and other energy sources. Should a transmission from another civilization reach earth, Green Bank, or a similar facility could receive and analyze it.
State institutions taking the place of federal in scientific research and technological advances is a welcome development. More exciting course and work study opportunities help to make the school even more attractive to possible candidates for study. It also improves the academic reputation without shutting the doors on many state students.
As the university expands into new fields, however, it must remain mindful to improve its standing as a steward of taxpayer money. Administrative spending cuts must become the primary option when the university needs more revenue. At some point the student loan bubble will explode and this will stop serving as academia's cash cow.
All the same, WVU's potential involvement in the Green Bank Observatory is exciting news. And expanding into rural health should help communities and aspiring medical students alike.