The state Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) Friday (Aug. 20) signed off on WVU s 10-year housing master plan designed to address growing enrollments, aging facilities and changing housing requirements.

This plan will accommodate continued growth in enrollment by acquiring additional space along with improving existing facilities, WVU Vice President for Finance, Administration and Human Resources Gary Rogers told commissioners.

The $40 million plan calls for building two new residence halls, purchasing a local private facility and extensively renovating University-owned facilities. Once completed, there will be 1,100 more spaces, bringing the housing capacity to over 4,800.

Rent from the new and renovated facilities is projected to cover the price tag, and also generate additional revenue, Rogers said.

Commissioners also gave the nod to an 11-year, $13 million lease for Pierpont Apartments as part of the housing plan. The University currently has a lease for four-and-a-half floors of Pierpont through July 31, 2006. The new lease�€which cancels the final year (2005-2006) of the existing lease�€enables WVU to use all nine floors of the building, and increases the number of beds from 217 to 536.

WVU s Board of Governors approved the plan at its June meeting.

In other business, HEPC :

  • approved the allocation of continued Research Challenge grant funding for four WVU projects: University-Industry Center for Extrusion-Compounding of Additives for Superior Plastics Performance ($289,017); Using GIS and Virtual Reality to Deliver Real-Time, Virtual Information Spatially Embedded in Mission-Critical Environments ($400,000); Proteomics and Cancer: A Partnership Between WVU and the Biotechnology Industry ($310,000); and The Biometrics Knowledge Center at WVU ($450,000 in carry-over money). The projects are designed to support significant research in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields.
  • approved two new programs at the recommendation of the EPSCoR state advisory council. One called STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Fellows) is designed to further research efforts at WVU and Marshall.
  • approved $3.1 million in life safety improvements at the WVU Coliseum. General University revenues will fund 72 percent of the project while 28 percent of the costs will be funded by Athletic Department revenues.
  • approved an FY 2006 state appropriation request of $365.8 million. The proposed operating budget reflects a 5.5 percent reduction in general revenue and lottery revenue per instructions from the state Budget Office.
  • approved a $3 million supplemental appropriation for the PROMISE Scholarship Program into HEPC s FY 2005 operating budget. This increases the current funding level for PROMISE from $27 million to $30 million.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the state Higher Education Policy Commission will be held in October.