At the first Faculty Senate meeting of the academic year, West Virginia University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michele Wheatly stressed the administration’s focus on an “intentional partnership” between the administration and Senate.

She pointed to the “tremendous involvement” of faculty and stakeholders across the University who are moving the strategic planning process along, and noted some new ideas on the academic side.

Wheatly summarized the progress of the strategic planning process, saying it was on track and on time.

“We’re looking for game-changing actionable items because just in the same way if you want to get on an exercise program or go on a diet you’ve really got to change your behaviors,” Wheatly said. “So we’re trying to look at what kind of changes in how we do things will take us to the kind of actions we need in order to be a different institution in 2020. “

While the previous 10-year plan focused on increasing enrollment, the goal now is to focus on encouraging students’ success within their first year at WVU to increase retention.

As part of that goal, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Academic Affairs Elizabeth Dooley and her staff are piloting an early alert system that would give students their grades earlier than the middle of the semester and provide support as they work to bring up their grades, Wheatly said.

The pilot system is being tested this semester in six large classes _ geology, chemistry, history, statistics, biology and math _ that have higher rates of students withdrawing or receiving below average or failing grades. Residence hall staff will be prepared to assist students in successfully completing the courses in which they receive initially poor grades.

Also, Dooley and a task force are examining the multidisciplinary studies major to find groupings of three minors that naturally go together and would prepare students for the workplace. Wheatly said this should enable more effective marketing of the major.

WVU Foundation President and CEO Wayne King detailed a $22 million increase in fundraising from fiscal year 2009 to 2010 and credited faculty for making students fondly remember their time at WVU.

“I would be remiss if I did not thank each of you for the role that you play in generating private support,” King said. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that my colleagues and I over the course of any fiscal year have many, many conversations with donors and potential donors where during the conversation the donor will say what really has motivated me to make this gift is the experience I had with Dr. So and So or this or that professor.

“The role that you play with alumni and the students of today who will be the donors of tomorrow is significant and extremely important.”

The Faculty Senate began the year by encouraging student input where appropriate in its discussions following the Student Government Association’s appointment of a faculty liaison, A.J. Warn. Faculty Senate Chairman Alan Stolzenberg, said the effort to improve communications between the two groups is an excellent idea. He encouraged student participation in certain committees and asked faculty to help the students be effective participants and allow them to speak on student issues.

In other business, the Senate:

  • Adopted a resolution asking that the University delay the implementation of the MyTime performance management system until Jan. 1 to study the impact the system will have on University employees and to consider alternatives.
  • Endorsed the West Virginia Advisory Council of Faculty list of issues for 2011 that include lobbying the state Legislature for a law change that would allow higher education employees to serve in the legislature; increasing the number of tenured faculty; and creating a systematic funding mechanism for capital projects and initiatives mandated by the legislature.

Faculty were encouraged to attend the upcoming Board of Governors meeting with the Faculty Senate on Thursday (Sept. 16) in the National Research Center for Coal and Energy room 101B at 4 p.m.



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