President Jerry Gilbert travels to D.C. to meet W.Va. Congressional Delegates


Rebecca Turnbull

President Jerome A. Gilbert speaks with students, faculty, and other members of the Marshall community during his office’s open house, February 4, 2016.

Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to meet with the West Virginia congressional delegation and to discuss the future of Marshall.

Gilbert met with Sens. Joe Manchin and Shelley Moore Capito, as well as Congressmen Evan Jenkins and Alex Mooney. Congressmen David McKinley was not able to meet with Gilbert due to a scheduling conflict. Gilbert departed from West Virginia Tuesday morning and will fly home late Thursday night.

Gilbert also attended a reception hosted by the West Virginia State Society of Washington, D.C. before meeting individually with West Virginia’s lawmakers. Gilbert was able to meet with Marshall alumni, as well as the congressional delegation and their staffers.

Senior Vice President of Communications Ginny Painter said attending the reception allowed Gilbert to reach out to other West Virginians.

“He can meet and talk, not only with the congressional delegation at the reception, but with other West Virginians, representatives and other college universities in the state, so it’s a good opportunity to network,” Painter said. “An important part of his job is connecting with policy makers.”

Gilbert discussed with the congressional delegation the necessity of additional funding for research conducted by Marshall, as well as the drug epidemic, working with the corps of engineers in Huntington to research water qualities and other health disparities, such as obesity and diabetes.

Gilbert also discussed the accomplishments of the Marshall forensics program, such as their work with the sheriff and police offices to analyze the different aspects of drug samples around the state.

“I was very encouraged, they were very supportive of Marshall and very supportive of the things our faculty and researchers were doing and I was very encouraged by the visit,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert also said he discussed Marshall’s interest in creating a center for excellence in addiction sciences, as well as West Virginia taking the lead in finding solutions to the addiction crisis in the state.

Gilbert said he had hoped to visit the Saudi Arabian embassy while in D.C. following the fear and uncertainty caused by President Donald Trump’s executive order banning travel from several middle eastern countries. Gilbert was not able to visit the embassy due to scheduling conflicts, however he was able to relay a message to the embassy through the Marshall INTO center saying that Marshall is inclusive and that Marshall welcomes students from Saudi Arabia.

“My purpose was to assure them that we were a place where their students could come and feel respected and welcomed and that we would take care of their students and certainly that we wanted many of their students as part of our international population at Marshall,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said he hopes he can visit the Saudi Arabian embassy on his next visit to D.C.

Adam Stephens can be contacted at [email protected]