Lawmakers will be seeing more gold and blue than usual on Thursday (Feb. 12) from 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. when students and alumni of the states flagship university descend on Charleston for West Virginia University Day at the state Capitol.

Representatives from WVU s 13 schools and colleges, regional campuses and other research and academic units will be on hand for the event.

This is an excellent opportunity for WVU to showcase to lawmakers and state citizens the economic impact this institution has on our state and to tell the story of how our enrollment, research, alumni support and private giving has grown,said Steve Douglas, direct of the WVU Alumni Association, the group organizing WVU Day activities.At the same time, well be reminding delegates, senators and others in state government of the major budget challenges we face.

WVU leaders have been vocal in their unified effort to avoid further reallocations of state appropriations away from higher education. Last year alone, WVU shouldered a $33 million budget shortfall, and in mid-year was hit with a 1.4 percent rescission. This follows several years of budget reallocations for mandated salary increases that total some $38 million.

In his State of the State address Jan. 14, Gov. Bob Wise proposed cutting higher educations budget by 2.5 percent for fiscal year 2005 rather than the announced 9 percent for most other state agencies. While officials appreciate the governors increased attention to higher education, a 2.5 percent cut still amounts to about $5 million on the main Morgantown campus.

To help manage the impact of both the mid-year rescission and the proposed budget cut, WVU officials recently announced the implementation of a hiring restriction on classified and non-classified state-funded staff positions until further notice. Exceptions would have to be made at the vice presidential level.

In his address, the governor also proposed giving colleges and universities more flexibility in their business and human resources practices. Another administration proposal would establish a permanent fund for research and development with a $10 million investment.

We are pleased Gov. Wise has made higher education a priority this session,Douglas said.Were confident the Legislature will do the same. Our message has been and will continue to be that the University is at a point where it cannot sustain another major cut without it having a devastating impact on the high quality of education and service people have come to expect from WVU .

As part of WVU Day, resolutions are expected to be introduced in both the House and Senate recognizing the many contributions WVU has made to the state.

WVU s student leaders will also be on hand to promote higher education and the states future leadership. They organized a statewide group, Students for Higher Education, last October and have been an active voice for a favorable higher education budget.