In his annual State of the Campus address today (Sept. 9), West Virginia University President David C. Hardesty Jr. touted the Universitys three record achievements during the past year. Hardesty noted that WVU celebrated major records in freshman enrollment, research and sponsored program funding and private support and disbursements.
Despite the declining number of graduates from West Virginia high schools, WVU has posted a record high freshman enrollment this fall.
“In part because of PROMISE , and in part because of our improving reputation around the state and nation, this years freshmen continue a pattern of increasing academic credentials of our incoming students,”he said.”What is important about the upward trend of the incoming studentsscores and GPA is that we have matriculated the largest freshman class without compromising, and indeed strengthening the academic quality of the institution.”
Early indicators suggest that 2002 fall enrollment may be the highest ever, Hardesty added.
WVU also reached an all-time high in sponsored projects last year.
“We had hoped to top $100 million by 2003, but WVU s principle investigators exceeded that goal by bringing in $134 million this year,”Hardesty said.
Another important trend at the University, according to the president, is the increase in technology transfer. The number of patent applications, license agreements and U.S. patents for faculty research have increased dramatically since the Office of Technology Transfer was established in 1999. To further link faculty research and state economic development efforts, WVU s research and technology park will soon be a reality, he added.
In addition to the Universitys research funding, the WVU Foundation experienced record support from private gifts ($57.4 million) and disbursements ($36.7 million). With 18 months remaining in the Foundations Building Greatness Campaign , $225.8 million of the original $250 million goal has been raised.
President Hardesty also highlighted some of WVU s strategic investments, including $38 million in faculty and staff salaries since 1996, with an additional $4 million for 2002-03; new facilities such as the Downtown Library Complex, Student Recreation Center, Life Sciences Building and One Waterfront, and major renovations of other facilities, like the Creative Arts Center and expansion of the health sciences campus; and technology investments such as new computers for faculty, new labs, integrating administrative systems of the regional campuses and launching an internal student-faculty web platform.
Like many higher education institutions across the country, WVU faces many challenges in the coming year.”These challenges can either constrain us or compel us to focus on our strengths and continue the impressive course of growth we have charted,”Hardesty said.
The extent of the state budget problems is uncertain, he said, and actions during the legislative session could mitigate the $200 million shortfall announced. by Gov. Wise.
The president asked faculty and staff for ideas on ways to operate their units and the University more efficiently. In general, he said WVU will need to consolidate functions and centralize and decentralize processes to improve efficiency. It also will be necessary, Hardesty said, to eliminate some programs, continue to standardize systems, seek policy reforms that can give the University flexibility to reduce administrative costs, make investments in critical areas, look for partnerships and consider tuition increases.
“I am convinced,”Hardesty said,”that people want good degrees, not cheap degrees. If the quality is here, our enrollment will hold its own.”
While weighing the tough decisions ahead, the president stressed the key will be focusing on the Universitys core mission.
“We may have to stop doing some good things, but we will also need to add programs where it makes sense to the core mission,”he said, noting that it was after Senate Bill 547 in 1995 that WVU created the Forensic Identification Program �€a program that is now larger than some long-standing departments. He cited WVU s emerging presence in biometrics as another example.
The University has become a student-centered culture while setting records for research. That was done on the strength of WVU s faculty and staff, he said, closing his remarks with a video of student testimonials on the vital role faculty and staff play in the lives of students.
The full text of the presidents speech is located online athttp://www.wvu.edu/administration/speeches.html.