I write to show support for a law school at Marshall University. Such an expansion of professional education is long overdue. It would show that the state of West Virginia is serious about providing academic opportunities for its citizens.

Our leaders claim that education is the key to West Virginia's economic growth. If they truly believe that statement, they should fight to expand the professional school educational opportunities available to our citizens. Law schools are cash cows for universities. Their tuitions produce surpluses that are used to bolster other programs. One must only look to the number of schools adding law programs. The state should seize this growth opportunity.

Unfortunately, many feel that anything good for Marshall is bad for WVU. As a native West Virginian, I want to see our university system grow to be among the country's best. As a state, we should push for expanded programs at Marshall and elsewhere. As the state's flagship school, WVU would benefit from all successive growth. The University of Louisville or Virginia Tech's academic accomplishments have not harmed the University of Kentucky or the University of Virginia. Instead, the successes at those schools have raised the recognition and academic performance of both state's higher education systems.

Sadly, the present protectionist view against a Marshall University Law School shows the lack of vision that has oppressed this state for way too long. Such attitudes are petty and counterproductive.

As a student of the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Va., I see the economic impact a law school has on a community. Grundy is reflective of most of southern West Virginia, because its economy was similarly based on a dying coal industry. However, its leaders had the vision to establish our school and, now, a new pharmacy program. Every day, I encounter native West Virginians that spend their money elsewhere to achieve their academic goals. Both schools provide opportunity and an influx of economic growth. Both are sorely lacking in West Virginia.

ASL was founded with a modest endowment of about $10 million dollars. It now has more than 350 students paying about $20,000 per year in tuition. Seven million dollars of annual tuition could make the Marshall University Law School self sufficient quite quickly. These numbers contain little detail, but serve to illustrate the feasibility of such endeavor.

Finally, despite what others suggest, jealousy is not the impetus for establishment of a Marshall University Law School. The motivation is for expanded educational opportunity, economic development, and prestige. If one truly wants what's best for the entire state of West Virginia, he shouldn't oppose growth and opportunity.

We are Marshall. We are Southern West Virginia. We are for all West Virginia. Now, let's work together to make it greater.

Brent Williams

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