CHARLESTON — The sounds of the John Marshall Fife and Drum Corps reverberated off the grand ceilings in the West Virginia Senate and House of Delegates chamber Thursday morning as Marshall University took over for Marshall Day at the Capitol.
University officials, faculty, students and, of course, Marco made the trip to Charleston for the annual lobbying day, which fills the rotunda with kelly green booths showing off the programs and departments that make Marshall Marshall.
Along with the special performance by the corps, John Marshall, portrayed by Marshall theater student Steve Judy, spoke before the House, reading some of the U.S. Supreme Court’s fourth chief justice’s philosophy on centralized government.
The goal of the day is to highlight the important role Marshall plays in the Mountain State, said Marshall President Jerome Gilbert.
“I think that came out in the resolution (passed by the House and Senate),” Gilbert said. “It highlighted our research, how we prepare our graduates, the fact we have nearly half-a-billion-dollar impact on the state economy, and our new programs.”
Gilbert spent the second half of the day at Yeager Airport, looking at sites of the new classroom and hangar space being built for the university’s new School of Aviation, which was also highlighted in the resolution. He said it was exciting just to be present in the moment, knowing what was to come.
“People in Charleston are excited because we are going to bring 100 to 200 new students over here,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert will also meet with officials at Huntington Tri-State Airport on Friday, Jan. 31, to discuss the new aviation maintenance program.
“Both of those programs will have a tremendous impact on the economy of West Virginia,” Gilbert said.
The university, along with the other members of West Virginia Forward, supports several pieces of legislation introduced this session, Gilbert said, including a bill that would create a tax incentive for graduates of the state’s institutes of higher learning who stay in the state and another bill generally looking at tax incentives. They also support a bill creating an innovation fund to be used as startup funding for entrepreneurs and the Promise+ scholarship, which would allow businesses to support education of West Virginia students.
The university is anticipating a flat budget from the state, but is prepared if budget cuts should come, Gilbert said.
Overall, Gilbert said it was a great day. He said he was proud of the impressive fife and drum corps, which really makes the university stand out when the Capitol goes green.