West Virginia Universitys Board of Governors on Friday (Nov. 5) approvedcompacts,or progress reports required by the state, for WVU and its regional campuses.

The board also reaffirmed its Sept. 28 approval of the issuance of up to $230 million in revenue bonds to finance specified capital projects, modifying its resolution to conform with the Higher Education Policy Commissions resolution adopted Oct. 15.

* COMPACTS :

WVU has met or exceeded the goals of our compact,Associate Provost Cheryl Torsney said in going over the Universitys progress report,and Im particularly pleased with our freshman-to-sophomore retention rate. Certainly as we retain more and more students, that will have a positive impact on our graduation rate.

Torsney said WVU s retention rate climbed from 79 percent in 2002-2003 to 81 percent in 2003-2004. Graduation rates of first-time, full-time freshmen is 56 percent, the Universitys compact goal and the national average for like institutions.

Growth in retention, she said, can be traced to the high number of PROMISE scholars coming to the University this year, some 1,242, and the higher academic credentials required of out-of-state students.

Plus, the whole campus is just working extremely hard and cooperatively to not only attract quality students but to keep them here and see that they succeed,she said.

The growth in the student body is also exceeding compact goals, she saidup 4 percent from last year for an all-time high of 25,255 students. Sponsored programs and research funding is also peaking at more than $140 millionanother area where WVU has exceeded its compact goal and is making a significant impact on the states research and economic activities.

WVU s research enterprise has spawned four start-up companies over the past several years, she added, and externally funded research supports approximately 600-800 jobs annually.

Graduation rates at the professional levels are strong, Torsney said, with students graduating from law, health sciences, social work and other programs in strong numbers and passing associated licensing exams. Dentistry tops the charts at a 100 percent pass rate, with pharmacy and medicine close behind.

* BOND MEASURE * :

Vice President for Administration, Finance and Human Resources Gary Rogers reminded the board that the recently passed bond measure will help pay for some 20 capital projects at WVU and its regional campuses over the next three years and refinance a portion of outstanding debt.

This comprehensive bond plan will enable the University to sustain WVU s

academic quality, enrollment growth, research activity and service mission well into the

future,Rogers said.It will also have a major economic impact, resulting in an estimated 6,000 construction jobs, 1,700 research jobs and $3.2 million in additional

tax revenues.

The individual projects involve upgrade, renovation, construction, acquisition and equipping of facilities included in WVU s 10-year master plan, the athletic strategic plan and the 10-year master plan for housing. (more)

Among the WVU campus projects included in the bond:

  • A two-story, 40,000-square-foot addition to the Agricultural Sciences Building for plant pathology, now housed in Brooks Hall
  • Replacement of deteriorated heating pipes and abatement of asbestos in Allen Hall
  • Renovation of Brooks Hall for the Department of Geology and Geography, now housed in White Hall
  • Renovation of Oglebay Hall to house offices and classrooms for the Forensic Science program and other general classrooms
  • Downtown infrastructure improvements
  • Renovation of Colson Hall for the English Department, now housed in Stansbury Hall, and academic technology support functions
  • Construction of a four-story, 400-bed housing facility on the Evansdale campus
  • The purchase of Summit Hall and adjacent land for to help ease the University-owned housing shortage
  • Completion of WVU s transaction with the WVU Foundation to purchase the St. Francis property

Repayment of the bond debt will be possible through enrollment growth and

auxiliary proceeds, Rogers said.

He also told the board that the credit ratings for the University have been reaffirmed by Moodys at A-1 stable and Standard&Poors at A-plus stable, and that the Universitys audited financial statements recently received a clean opinion from the independent auditors, Deloitte&Touche LLP . This paves the way for the bonding plan to get under way, he added,under a well managed operation.

* POTOMAC * *STATE TRANSITION * :

Also at the meeting, Kerry Odell, interim president at Potomac State College of WVU , updated the board on the schools plans to become a fully integrated division of the University by July 1, 2005.

Under legislation passed last year, all administrative and academic units are being consolidated with oversight responsibility assigned to WVU . Many areas have already completed the transition process, he noted, such as business affairs, human resources, dining services and student affairs with most others in the development stage.

“We have already experienced both operational and financial efficiencies in the areas where transitions have been completed,Odell said.The integration with WVU will allow us to better serve our students and to enhance our faculty, staff and facilities.

The future plan for the school calls for enrollment to increase from about 1,300 to 1,500 students by 2010. The College also will experience new construction beginning with a culinary kitchen that is already in progress and groundbreaking to begin in spring 2005 for a livestock education center. Other future projects include a new residence hall and library expansion.

* ACADEMIC AFFAIRS :

The board also heard from Provost Gerald Lang and members of Student

Government about a proposed new course of study focusing on leadership. Lang also briefed the board on the need to continue to preserve and reward WVU s outstanding faculty.

He also shared a letter from the Higher Learning Commission officially extending WVU s accreditation through 2014, the maximum possible extension.

Searches are also set to begin, Lang said, for the president of the WVU Institute of Technology in Montgomery, the provost position at Potomac State in Keyser and the dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. A search for a new dean of the College of Business and Economics will also commence soon.

WVU President David Hardestys report to the board focused on WVU s recent enrollment gains, with total headcount at WVU and its regional campuses increasing by 13 percent since 1995 to 32,639 students, and full time equivalent (FTE) enrollment up some 17 percent. Strong enrollment isincreasingly importantto WVU s budget, he said.

In other matters, the board:

  • Adopted a policy on the financing of intercollegiate athletics at WVU and its regional campuses. The policy, developed pursuant to a directive to all public colleges and universities from HEPC , identifies permissible funding sources for athletics programs, such as intercollegiate athletic revenues, student fees, tuition waivers and appropriated funds. The policy is not intended to result in any change in practice, however. Thus, while regional campuses may use tuition waivers and state appropriations, the main WVU campus will continue to refrain from using such funding sources as non-earmarked state appropriations and tuition waivers.
  • Approved a $2.7 million project to rehabilitate the main classroom building at WVU Parkersburg
  • OKd a 3 percent salary increase for the faculty and staff at the Community and Technical College at the WVU Institute of Technology effective January 2005

The board meeting coincided with WVU s annual visiting committee weekend, where college, school and various unit advisory groups gather for meetings and a joint luncheon.