President Gilbert discusses future with MU Alumni in Florida

Former Marshall University students can be found residing all over the country. President Jerry Gilbert returned from a trip to Fort Myers, Florida on Wednesday, where he hopes to establish a Marshall alumni chapter for former students.

Gilbert spoke at an event consisting of 35 to 40 people Tuesday night, where he discussed how alumni in the region could support Marshall, as well as his future goals for the university.

“We need to have stronger chapters where alumni can come together and talk about things related to Marshall,” Gilbert said. “Many times they have sports viewing parties, they raise money for scholarships and most chapters have events that benefit the university, so the more chapters that we can have around the country serves Marshall well.”

Gilbert also discussed how Marshall has been faced with many financial challenges in the past several years due to a decrease in state assistance and that increasing enrollment can help solve some financial issues.

“One way to attack the issue of the budget is to grow the university in terms of enrollment,” Gilbert said. “Without the growth of enrollment, we will not be able to sustain the current model that we have at Marshall, so enrollment growth will be critical to making sure that we can maintain all of our programs and expand our programs.”

Having alumni centers in other parts of the country can assist in enrollment for the university by reaching out to their community and actively trying to recruit new students.

Another goal Gilbert discussed at the event was his plan for the university to help combat the addiction crisis within our region.

“We’ve put together a substance abuse coalition and I want our students, our faculty and our administration to be involved in doing what we can and focus our attention at Marshall both in an education and a research manner to solve the addiction problem,” Gilbert said.

“I think we have the opportunity to create a center of excellence of addiction sciences here at Marshall that could be the model for the whole country in terms of what a university can do with the community to create those opportunities to address addiction.”

Trips such as these for President Gilbert are critical in keeping Marshall connected to communities outside of West Virginia. 

“It’s important for the president to get out of Huntington and out of Marshall, particularly in some of the target areas that we are recruiting in and fundraising in,” said Ginny Painter, the senior vice president of communications.

“He gets Marshall’s name out there on trips like the one he just returned from where he met with an alumni chapter. He can talk to them about his goals, about our enrollment needs and about our fundraising needs and people really appreciate it when he comes to their backyard rather than them having to come to Huntington,” Painter said.

Adam Stephens can be contacted at [email protected]