Challenged by reductions in statewide funding, increasing costs and fewer students, WVU Institute of Technology should move quickly to hire a strong college president and refocus the resources and activities of the Montgomery campus, according to a strategic plan released today (Aug. 18).

The WVU Institute of Technology Strategic Planning Task Force Reportcalls for the new leader of the four-year institution to implement the recommendations outlined in the report and work closely with the president of the Community and Technical College at WVU Tech.

At the same time, the task force recommends the interim president conduct a review of the current administrative structure to streamline assignments and titles to be more consistent with the institutions size and focus.

Calling the plancrucial to the economic and academic vitality of WVU Tech,Interim President GalanLannyJaneksela outlined the key recommendations during a meeting with Techs faculty and staff.

What the task force tried to do was to envision a future WVU Tech as a place where students come and find a caring environment where they can achieve success and reach their fullest potential through the support of faculty and staff,Dr. Janeksela said.This blueprint for the future essentially calls for us to focus our degree programs on engineering, science, health and technologycritical needs for West Virginiawhile providing Tech students with a nurturing and supportive living and learning environment. All of this is possible, but it will take an extraordinary effort from all of us.

He added,Based on the analysis of the task force, it is clear that we have to refocus some of our financial and human resources on recruitment and retention. I am confident that we will be successful in meeting this challenge.

The task force recommendations primarily focus on the baccalaureate institution and not on the recently accredited, administratively linked community college that offers two-year programs on the Montgomery campus, Janeksela added.

Some of the key recommendations in the report are:

  • Establish recognition of the mission of Tech asa uniquesource of engineering and science education in the state and better inform policy makers of the level of state funding required to uphold the mission of the campus and its invaluable contributions to the economic development of southern West Virginia.
  • Develop a business plan that makes critical investments in infrastructure, in particular residence halls and a student recreation center to meet the living-learning needs of todays students, complement the schools academic mission and provide a sense of community. In addition, take care of years of deferred maintenance to existing facilities, build reserves for annual maintenance, and create an information technology plan.
  • Focus the resources and activities of the entire Tech campus on building full-time equivalent enrollment, with a freshman class approaching 800 students, and increase the freshman to sophomore retention rate to 70 percent from its current rate of 60 percent. The increased student enrollment and retention would result in more resources to improve the campus environment and provide students with the support and services they need to be successful.
  • Refocus the intercollegiate athletic experience to allow every student to benefit from the life skills associated with athletic competition. In so doing, examine the task forces recommendation to discontinue the football program and consider redirecting those resources to build the mens and womens basketball programs; support a strong campus intramural program; increase opportunities for women athletes; focus on niche sports where WVU Tech can be successful in recruiting students from West Virginia and the region; and improve student-athlete graduation rates.
  • Remain a regional campus and build a highly supportive and effective relationship with WVU , having the essential functions of the WVU Tech Alumni Association, the Tech Foundation and the Research and Development Corporation managed by WVU s affiliated organizations.

Citing the environment Tech is facing, Janeksela said it is imperative that the campus move forward swiftly with many of the task force recommendations.

Annual reductions in statewide funding have given us a financial base that is comparable to what Tech had in the early 1990s, while our costs continue to increase,he said.In addition, Techs traditional recruiting base has fewer students. It is clear to me that we have to strategically recruit in other states and do a better job of recruiting in West Virginia, especially in the 22 counties in the southern part of the state.

Janeksela also urged faculty and staff to work together to provide the support and guidance Tech students need to be successful and graduate in a timely manner.

Its important that we do this with a sense of urgency,he added.We have already begun discussions about how faculty can be involved in recruitment and retention as part of their workload expectations.

Other key recommendations Janeksela cited in the report include:

  • developing an alumni leadership team to support the new Tech administration and its renewed efforts with policy makers
  • strengthening the role of the WVU Tech Board of Advisors
  • focusing on degree programs that clearly fit Techs mission, but can be supported by sufficient enrollment to be cost effective
  • examining four-year program enrollments
  • consider merging some programs and eliminating others
  • establishing baccalaureate enrollment level beginning in 2006 of 1,830 students and steadily increasing that goal
  • raising faculty salaries, based on merit, if enrollment goals are met

At the request of WVU s Provost Gerald Lang, a task forcecomprised of WVU Tech faculty, staff, students, alumni and administration, as well as representatives from the WVU campus and local communityhas been meeting and gathering information for the report for the past two months. An implementation team is in place to begin work on the highest priority action items. To obtain a copy of the plan and task force membership, go to:http://www.wvutech.edu.