Budget deficit for fiscal year 2024 now projected at $45 million
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — West Virginia University administrators briefed Board of Governors members today on a multitude of converging efforts being undertaken to strategically reposition the WVU System for the future.
President Gordon Gee outlined the plan during his March State of the University address designed to put students first, prioritize WVU’s land-grant mission and focus on differentiation.
The University is navigating a projected structural budget deficit for fiscal year 2024. That deficit, initially estimated at $35 million, is now projected to be an estimated $45 million, driven largely by the recent increase in PEIA employer premiums. Employees will also see premium rate increases.
“The State provided $3 million for salary adjustments, and we are looking at ways to help offset the additional cost of insurance premiums for our employees,” Rob Alsop, vice president for Strategic Initiatives, said. “But we are also trying to balance those needs with the current budget realities the University is facing.”
WVU is working to identify systematic cost-savings initiatives including centralization of ITS units, a hiring freeze, limited travel protocols, a voluntary work-time reduction program and managed print program, among others.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed told the Board the graduate program portfolio review has been completed as part of the Academic Transformation initiative. Preliminary recommendations have been made to the colleges regarding “programs of concern,” meaning programs that were lower performing, based on measures such as enrollment trends. Reed explained that a period for appeals is underway with recommendations to the Board expected this summer.
“Looking forward, we will need to dive even deeper into our portfolio of academic programs to determine additional changes that will allow us to reduce costs while maintaining quality, and we will continue to look at potential mergers and consolidations across academic units,” Reed said. “We’ll dig deeper into instructional practices and our academic support services to ensure we are working efficiently and doing our best to serve the needs of our students.”
The University’s first graduate student ombudsperson has been appointed to start this fall, and a new student success program launching at the same time will focus on providing wrap-around support for the most vulnerable undergraduate students, including Pell eligible, first generation, minority and rural West Virginia students.
“The REACH program – which stands for Respond, Engage And Climb Higher – will support students who have been accepted to WVU but have not yet begun classes,” Reed explained. “Participants will receive success coaching, additional tutoring and financial literacy training. Once REACH students start classes in the fall, they will have a secondary adviser to help them balance the competing demands of academics, work and socialization and help them utilize our existing student support infrastructure.”
The Student Government Association’s annual report outlined for the Board a number of accomplishments, and Paul Ziemkiewicz, project lead and director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, shared a presentation about his groundbreaking research in rare earth elements.
In his remarks, President Gee highlighted numerous examples of student success, including Azeem Khan who recently became the University’s 26th Truman Scholar, the nation’s top graduate fellowship award for aspiring public service leaders.
The Board approved changes to amend several current Rules including the BOG Academics Rules to expand test-optional policies.
Additionally, members approved a new bachelor’s degree in Esports Business and Entertainment.
A planned renovation at the Health Sciences Center will create new opportunities for residents and clinicians in a new Surgical Skills and Fresh Tissue Lab. WVU Medicine has committed to fully funding the $2.2 million project.
Other capital projects underway include:
· ASCEND WV, Morgantown Coworking Space
· Canady Creative Arts Center, Clay Theatre Lighting
· Chitwood Hall Renovation
· HSC School of Dentistry Renovation
· Jackson’s Mill Sewer and Water Replacements
· Café Evansdale Kitchen Renovation
· Coliseum Apron Club
The next regular Board meeting is scheduled for June 23.
MEDIA CONTACT: April Kaull
Executive Director of Communications