This year has been busy for area colleges and universities, as all higher-education institutions have expanded academic programs and debuted new facilities.

Davis & Elkins College recently dedicated a new Astro-turf soccer and lacrosse field and a completely renovated natatorium. In addition, the college completed several other renovations, including a new lobby and sitting area in the Hermanson Center.

Recently, West Virginia Wesleyan College announced a new Welcome Center, a result of a generous gift by Bruce and Jeannie O’Rourke Nordstrom.

Construction on the million-dollar facility, which will be located near the Virginia Thomas Law Center for the Performing Arts, is scheduled to begin this spring.

In Philippi, Alderson Broaddus gained university status, expanded several academic programs and added a football team this year.

The university also recently announced its first online degree offering.

The true beneficiaries of these improvements are the thousands of young students seeking higher-learning degrees that will better their career prospects.

These institutions are going above and beyond to better serve their respective student bodies.

With the importance of a quality education increasing, it is nice to see our local institutions improving their offerings and facilities.

Ultimately, we all benefit from these improvements as they not only make our communities better places to live, but serve as training grounds for our future leaders.