West Virginia University Health Sciences Chancellor Christopher Colenda asked the Board of Governors Friday to consider a policy to ban tobacco use on all of the Health Sciences Campus.

“Tobacco products cause and contribute to significant disease and disability in our country. As an academic health sciences center, we need to be leaders in establishing a tobacco-free, healthy environment,” Colenda said, noting that most academic health centers across the country are smoke free. “One of the important elements for establishing that healthy environment is to have consistent policies across all institutions that occupy the Health Sciences campus.”

Colenda told the BOG that since Nov. 19 and the American Cancer’s Society’s Great American Smokeout, WVU Hospitals and University Health Associates – along with Monongalia Health System and HealthSouth MountainView Regional Rehabilitation Hospital – have banned tobacco use on their properties, including parking lots and sidewalks.

Tobacco use was already prohibited inside each facility, but it was permitted in designated outdoor areas until the November ban took effect, he said.

As part of that decision, classes, workshops and nicotine replacement therapy have been offered to employees to help them quit and/or get through the workday without tobacco.

Colenda said that tobacco use continues on the Health Sciences property, since only parts of the campus are off-limits.

“This sends a fundamentally inconsistent message of what a health science campus should be,” he said. “However, we are ready to move forward now with a tobacco ban; we have been preparing for this for several years.”

Colenda said he will bring the proposal before the Board at its next meeting, with the appropriate posting of the policy for public comment to follow.

Earlier this month, President James P. Clements appointed an 11-member task force to examine WVU’s existing campus wide smoking policy. Its report is expected by the end of the academic year.

Colenda said the policy he will be proposing, if adopted, would allow Health Sciences to be tobacco free prior to the president’s task force completing its work.

In other business, the Board approved the purchase of two floors of the new eight-story Marina Tower office building in Morgantown’s Wharf District for approximately $7.3 million—$5 million for the floors and $2.3 million for a build-out of the space and furniture, subject to the approval of the West Virginia Attorney General and the City of Morgantown.

In comparing long-term leasing, lease purchasing and ownership, acquisition was seen as the most effective investment option, according to Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese.

“Acquiring these floors will help WVU reduce the amount of space currently leased and also address many of our academic and administrative needs,” he said.

In order to enable the University to reimburse costs incurred for this purchase, the Board also approved a financing and reimbursement resolution.

The approximately 24,000-square-feet of space will allow departments such as the Office of the Associate Vice President for Facilities and Services, Internal Audit, Real Estate Services, Planning and Treasury Operations, and Facilities, Planning and Scheduling to move into the new facility and free up space at One Waterfront for other units such as Student Systems Management and Web and Creative Services to occupy.

News & Information Services will also occupy Marina Tower allowing creation of much-needed classroom space in Clark Hall and moving this communications unit closer to other University Relations units.

In other matters, the BOG approved two new policies – one on the West Virginia Freedom of Information Act; the other on drug and alcohol testing for federal transit and motor carrier covered positions. The testing policy was approved with a technical clarification (related to 2.4.2 on controlled substances). Both policies can be found at: http://bog.wvu.edu/

In his report, President Clements congratulated BOG member and current president of U.S. National Academy of Engineering, Charles M. Vest, on his recent induction into the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Dr. Vest, president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is one only 36 foreign members of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

“These are recognized engineers who have made significant achievements in their fields, Clements said.

He also pointed to another WVU graduate, Irene Berger, who was installed Friday as a U.S. federal judge. “She is the first African American judge to serve on the federal bench in West Virginia. She was also appointed by the first African American President of our country. And she will serve with the first African American Attorney General. That is significant,” he said.

One of nine children of parents who did not graduate from high school, Berger’s life has been “a role model” for many young people in our country, of all races and backgrounds, he added.

Also during the meeting, new member Thomas V. Flaherty, founding member of the law firm of Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso, who joined by phone, was publicly sworn in. He replaces Stephen Goodwin, who resigned his Board post in October. Flaherty was officially sworn in the day after his appointment last month, Chairwoman Carolyn Long said, but the panel wanted to also do so at his first meeting.

Honorary degree candidates were approved by the Board as well; those individuals will be announced at a later date.

A special January meeting will be held to approve policy 54, a rule on identity theft detection and prevention. The group’s next regular meeting is Feb. 5, 2010.



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