(EDITOR’S NOTE: At the Dec. 10, 2010, BOG meeting, Foundation officials revised the requested amount of the RTF request for November by $534, due to an error recording proceeds from a stock gift. The corrected amount of the request is $406,317.)
1st Lt. Jared Jones was all set to attend law school at West Virginia University in the fall of 2008 when he learned that his Army National Guard unit was being deployed to Afghanistan. In fact, the news of his law school acceptance came from President Emeritus-turned-Law Professor David Hardesty.
“I’m excited, but I’ve just learned I’ve been called to deploy,” Jones said he told him.
Without hesitation, Jones said Hardesty gave him his e-mail address and cell phone number and arranged to meet him and walk him through what he needed to do to compete in the following year’s applicant pool and retain his scholarship and financial aid.
That’s just one example of the “caring, supportive attitude” the University shows veterans, Jones told WVU’s Board of Governors on a day that followed the nation’s observance of Veterans Day.
Before addressing a full business agenda Friday, the Board devoted much of its meeting to learning about the University’s “Veteran Friendly” atmosphere.
The University also has an active Veterans Advocate whose office helps solve financial aid and VA education benefit issues, class absences due to military responsibilities, deployment issues and other matters, and WVU’s Human Resources division encourages talented veteran applicants to apply for employment opportunities and offers a summit each year to further make outreach to veterans a priority.
“There is no doubt WVU is a veteran-friendly school,” Jones said. To tell you the truth, I haven’t the foggiest idea what the University’s official policy is on students missing class to perform military duty – because I’ve never had a professor with whom it was an issue. They just work with you.”
Today, Jones, at age 25, is the commanding officer of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ unit out of Parkersburg and is in his second year of a working on a dual JD/MBA degree. He is also vice president of the Veterans Law Caucus.
Vice President Ken Gray, Employment Director Trisha Gyurke and Veterans Advocate Terry Miller also addressed the Board on other ways WVU reaches out to its nearly 1,000 veteran students and employees, including:
- Attending veteran job fairs;
- Training employment staff, recruiters, admissions counselors and financial aid representatives to interpret military resumes (classifications, certifications, skills, responsibilities, etc.);
- Advertising employment opportunities through the Army Reserve and National Guard Employee Partnership Initiative;
- Offering a military leave policy, scholarships and payment plans;
- Offering job search assistance to veterans and disabled student veterans to help them find part-time or summer jobs
- Welcoming home deployed University staff by presenting them with certificates of appreciation on their return;
- Offering a special military transition employment website: http://employment.hr.wvu.edu/wvu_and_gi_jobs
- Offering a special student veterans office website and advocate: http://wvuveterans.wvu.edu/;
- Offering special transition classes for veterans and a Veterans Adventure West Virginia program;
- Sponsoring a military breakfast on Veterans Day and designating it a “Day of Concern;”
- Designation as a Yellow Ribbon school.
These efforts led to WVU being designated a “Military Friendly School” the past two years by GI Jobs magazine, and prompted a select visit by Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to Morgantown and WVU in the spring for a “Conversation with the Country” tour to promote veteran integration, Gyurke told the Board.
“Veterans are highly suited to work in a university setting,” Gyurke said. “Almost 81 percent of the jobs performed in the military have an equivalent position at a university, including finance, information technology, security, engineering, facilities and medical specialties.”
Gyurke added that President James P. Clements has lifted up the importance of hiring of women and minorities. She noted that women make up from 15-25 percent of the membership of each branch of the service and more than 41 percent of military members are minorities.
“WVU takes its commitment to military personnel seriously,” she said, “and believes it is the right thing to do – for our state, our university and for the returning soldiers that put their lives on the front line for our freedom.”
Miller said veterans are motivated, eager to succeed, goal setters and leaders, but more importantly, they bring a different perspective to campus.
“They are not the typical 18-year-old student coming out of mom and dad’s house for the first time,” he said. “They have life experiences that most of us will not have. These discussions can change the conversation in classrooms, adding depth and real world understanding.”
Gray said other veteran-related projects at WVU include: the West Virginia Veterans History Project to collect state veterans’ stories for the Library of Congress; a documentary film on the untold stories of African-American veterans; participation in the Take a Veteran to School Day program; a new exhibit and interactive website, launched this week, that examines the story of African American soldiers who migrated to McDowell County; research on post-traumatic stress disorder; and Extension “care packages” for veterans and their families.
Facility Acquisitions, Land Sale
In the business portion of the meeting, the Board approved, with one abstention, the sale of 8.85 acres of land located on the WVU Animal Science Farm near the Mileground and U.S. 705 to the Monongalia Board of Education for $2.8 million, or $325,000 per acre.
The land was once used as part of the University’s dairy operations, but in more recent years was used to grow silage corn. Officials say the proceeds will be allocated to a future building for the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
The West Virginia Network for Education Technology, which currently houses one of WVU’s data centers at its location on Chestnut Ridge Road, will be relocated to this facility. WVNET will be responsible for paying rent to WVU as well as funding certain capital improvements. Target date for the move is Summer 2011.
With financing through SBS Properties over 10 years at 5 percent, the total cost of the acquisition will be approximately $3.7 million, with ownership of the property belonging to WVU at the satisfaction of the balance.
This project also needs the approval of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.
Also approved at Friday’s meeting was construction of a $2.1 million practice facility for women’s soccer next to the current practice field on Jerry West Boulevard. Private funds have been secured by or pledged to the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics for more than 90 percent of the 3,500-square-foot facility.
Additionally, the first two phases of the Recreation Strategic Plan were approved by the Board Friday.
The first phase calls for construction by Fall 2011 of a turf and grass soccer field, five hard surface lighted tennis courts and a walking trail on the St. Francis field property as well as renovation of four tennis courts adjacent to the Evansdale Residential Complex.
Phase two involves re-grading the intramural fields at health sciences and relocating the lights. This phase should be completed by June 2012.
The Board also approved construction of the Student Health and Wellness facility on Patteson Drive, estimated to be completed by summer 2013 at a cost of $18.8 million. The project will be funded through the issuance of revenue bonds, with the debt paid through the student health fee and revenues generated by the facility. A financing and reimbursement resolution was also adopted in connection with the financing.
Also on Friday, WVU’s Board approved $405,783 in new Research Trust Fund contributions for submission to the state for matching funds, bringing the total approved by the Board to $8.436 million. The new funding comes from seven sources:
- James P. Boland MD Department of Surgery Endowed Research Fund – $98,808;
- Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment – $97,965;
- Branson-Maddrell Endowed Professorship in Orthodontics – $75,505;
- Virginia Oil and Gas Research Endowment in the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering – $50,000;
- Darrell and Diane Williams Research Endowment in the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering – $50,000;
- Raymond Brooks Vanscoy Cancer Research Endowment – $8,505
With this request, private and state dollars combined will bring WVU’s RTF total to $16.873 million in investments in key research areas.
In 2008, the state created the Research Trust Fund with an initial appropriation of $50 million to leverage public and private investments that will transform West Virginia’s economy. WVU is able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support expansions to research faculty and infrastructure in key areas linked to economic development, health care and job growth. Those areas include energy, nanotechnology, biosciences and biometrics.
WVU’s combined financial statements for 2010 were also accepted by the Board. They continue to be stable and balanced, with positive trends in revenues generated from tuition, grants and contracts and auxiliary enterprises to cover increasing expenses such as salaries and benefits, student support services, research support and facilities, said Dan Durbin, associate vice president for administration and finance.
A long-term statewide solution is needed, however, to offset the increasing costs of employee health insurance benefits, he said, and WVU needs to be less dependent on student tuition and fees in future years.
A new graduate program – the master of science in clinical and translational science – was also approved at Friday’s meeting. The degree program is expected to grow clinician scientists and clinical research activities at the Health Sciences Center and affiliated health care institutions.
The BOG will meet by conference call Dec. 10 for its final meeting of the calendar year.
CONTACT: University Relations – News
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