The West Virginia University Board of Governors approved more than $24 million in construction and renovation projects at its regular meeting Friday (April 9), including a $14.5 million animal facility annex at Health Sciences.
The Board also heard a report from Narvel Weese, vice president of administration and finance, on the 2011-2012 budget, including how to balance access and keep college affordable for students while adding new faculty positions and fully funding the classified staff salary schedule.
University officials hope to recommend a budget—that will take effect July 1—to the Board at its June meeting in Charleston.
“Our goal is to make sure that we can provide a quality education to our students and provide those services students need and want and, at the same time, do it at a cost that doesn’t create an insurmountable barrier for families,” Weese said.
Tuition and fees account for about 35 percent of WVU’s overall budget, Weese explained, with state support making up about 25 percent and the rest coming from grants and contracts, private support and auxiliary sources.
Approximately $9.7 million in stimulus funds helped backfill a reduction in state appropriations this year, he added.
He warned that the next two fiscal years will be critical in identifying additional streams of revenue to support strategic initiatives beyond current levels.
Weese said the University is already looking for new sources of revenue as well as implementing aggressive cost containment measures. Current savings of about $5.8 million have been realized through outsourcing car rental operations, entering into energy performance contracts and other contracts with Barnes and Noble and Coca-Cola.
Additional revenues can also be generated in the future through more aggressive student retention efforts, an increase in online courses and other measures, Weese said.
Expected completion of the animal facility annex, funded by a National Institutes of Health award and supported by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is winter 2012, officials say. Other projects approved by the Board at Friday’s meeting:
- Replacement of the Percival Hall chiller and cooling tower; expected completion spring 2010 at a cost of $1.4 million
- Exterior restoration of Woodburn Hall; expected completion spring 2011 at a cost of $3.9 million
- Replacement of the exhaust system and air handling units for the Chemistry Annex; expected completion fall 2010 at a cost of $2.6 million
- Replacement of the Health Sciences Center primary cooling tower; expected completion spring 2011 at a cost of $2 million
In his report to the Board, President James P. Clements highlighted some achievements, addressed challenges and discussed strategic planning.
His senior leadership team is in place, he noted, and searches for permanent deans for medicine, arts and sciences, business and dentistry are under way as well as a search for an athletic director.
Among the highlights of the past 9-10 months, Clements cited the opening of a new cardiac care center, honors residence hall, child care center, mine training facility and intermodal station. Ground was also broken on a new home for physics and a practice facility for the nationally ranked men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“Many of these projects started way before I arrived and are very significant for our University,” he said.
On the national stage, Clements accepted an invitation to speak at a National Academy of Sciences symposium and will participate in an Association of Public Land-Grant Universities panel later this month and will serve as one of APLU’s regional liaisons.
Strategic planning is also getting under way, with Chancellor Christopher Colenda and Provost Michele Wheatly leading that campus-wide effort. A Planning Council will be announced next week, Clements said.
WVU’s 21st Truman Scholar and 33rd Goldwater Scholar were announced in recent weeks, he added, and WVU earned three competitive awards for the management of the NETL project totaling $465 million.
With Friday’s Board approval of a $14.5 million award for an animal facility project at Health Sciences, total grants and contract funding through March 2010 exceeds $142.5 million compared to $114.3 million for the same time period last year, he said.
With men’s and women’s basketball fresh on everyone’s mind, Clements said he could not be prouder of these nationally ranked teams and coaches. “They played for West Virginia and it showed,” he said, while lauding the accomplishments of all WVU athletic teams operating under a financially self-sufficient department.
He applauded Da’Sean Butler for receiving the Lowe’s Senior Class Award based on character, community service, outstanding classroom work and competitiveness on the court.
He also cited the 12th place ranking in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup for total athletic performance of all WVU teams on the national level, putting WVU first among the Big East schools.
Citing future challenges, he said funding remains a priority.
“We must continue to make investments in quality and find new sources of revenue, he said.
Other challenges Clements cited: creating a university-wide information technology plan, standardizing systems and structures, dealing with a retiring work force, meeting enrollment goals and developing the next phase of the master plan, including addressing technology upgrades to the Personal Rapid Transit system.
Reflecting on the past 10 months, Clements said his roots are “firmly planted” in Morgantown and at WVU.
“This is home now,” he said, and while there has been discussion of an inauguration ceremony, Clements said there never seemed to be a “right time.”
“It’s a difficult economic time- this is clear from our budget discussions,” he said. “So as we turn the corner to a second year, I am focused on inaugurating a strategic planning process and setting a course for the University’s longer term goals.
“It is my recommendation that we keep the momentum going and save celebrations for our collective successes in the times to come and forego the ceremonial step of inaugurating this presidency.”
Looking ahead to his second year in office, Clements said he will continue to focus on improving systems and structures, moving full speed ahead on strategic planning and reallocating resources and finding new sources of revenue.
Many Board members took time to thank Dr. Clements for his service this past year. Jo Morrow noted his support for fully funding the staff salary schedule and faculty representative Nigel Clark thanked him for his enthusiastic leadership style and his commitment of additional faculty positions and bringing down the student to faculty ratio.
BOG Chair Carolyn Long said Clements’ dedication to his position is evident night and day and she appreciates his ability to put a “human face” on the University presidency.
In his report to the Board, Student Government Association President Jason Zuccari announced a student-led effort to launch a scholarship fund for children of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster in Raleigh County.
“Whatever amount people can give – large or small – will be much appreciated,” he said. More details on the fund will be announced in the coming days.
The meeting began with a moment of silence for the West Virginians killed in that explosion and their families.
The Board also appointed a committee to be chaired by Ed Robinson to nominate a slate of officers to be presented at the June meeting. Serving on the panel will be Charles Vest, Diane Lewis and Nigel Clark.
In other action, they approved:
- An interim financial reporting plan from the external auditors as of Dec. 31, 2009
- A new graduate certificate program in University Teaching
- A program name change of the master of fine arts in visual art to master of fine arts in art and design
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