West Virginia University’s Board of Governors unanimously endorsed the University’s 2020 Plan: A Strategic Framework for the Future Friday, calling it “exciting and innovative.”

“It’s clear that many months of thought, discussion and care went into this plan for WVU’s future. Our land-grant University is now poised to do even greater things moving forward,” said Board Chair Carolyn Long, following presentations by strategic planning co-chairs Provost Michele Wheatly and Chancellor Christopher Colenda and planning council chair Nigel Clark.

“On behalf of the Board, please accept our thanks and appreciation for the fine work that all of you provided to this process.”

At the plan’s core are its goals, and its focus on its mission to the state. The goals are to:

  • Engage undergraduate, graduate and professional students in a challenging academic environment;
  • Excel in research, creativity and innovation in all disciplines;
  • Foster diversity and an inclusive culture;
  • Advance international activity and global engagement; and
  • Enhance the well-being and the quality of life of the people of West Virginia.

In support of those goals, the Council also adopted three aspirations: to attain the highest Carnegie research ranking; to double the number of nationally ranked programs by 2020; and to ensure that WVU graduates are among the nation’s leaders. (Read more about it at: http://strategicplan.wvu.edu/)

Board members Ed Robinson and Tom Clark urged all constituencies to work together to implement the plan, and cited the statement, “WVU: West Virginia’s window to the world,” as a key message to underscore this “living, breathing framework.”

As part of a series of regular updates on various University programs, the Board heard a presentation on career mapping from Provost Wheatly and Director of Career Services David Durham.

Career mapping is a priority for WVU and Career Services, they said.

Facing rapid changes in technology and a dynamic international workforce, WVU has an even greater obligation to help students be successful in a global environment, Wheatly said.

Durham said Career Services has taken several steps to help prepare students for the job market, including helping students identify majors early and build resumes starting in their freshman year; using the University’s online career tracking system; and connecting with high school guidance counselors.

The Board also heard a report from Dave Miller, associate provost for Extension and Public Service and the University’s legislative liaison.

While it is “still early in the legislative session,” there are several issues that are being discussed and worked on, Miller said.

“At this stage in the session, we spend a lot of time monitoring bills and working with senators and delegates to answer questions and watch how new or revised legislation will affect the University, our employees and students,” Miller said.

The University’s budget is a top priority, he said.

“The state budget is in good shape, so we expect to maintain WVU’s budget,” he said.

Pay raises, both one-time and permanent, are being discussed. Senate Bill 330, also known as the personnel bill, is being reviewed by the Senate, and also includes a provision for increased investment options.

Several items pertaining to health care and Health Sciences are being worked on, he added, including the recently announced School of Public Health and the potential for the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center to receive National Cancer Institute designation. Other bills would help with funding for renovations to the health sciences facility and the rural health initiative; another would take the current 24-cycle pay to 26 pay periods, he added.

Miller said the University has a strong working relationship with both houses as well as the Governor’s office.

“We’re all interested in what’s best for West Virginia and helping to improve the education and lives of our citizens,” he said.

Also at the meeting, the Board approved $7.5 million in new Research Trust Fund contributions for submission to the state for matching funds, bringing the total approved by the BOG to just over $16 million.

Provost Wheatly said the new funding comes from 12 sources (see related story), with names of the donors of the three largest gifts and details of these contributions to be announced publicly at a later date.

With this request, private and state dollars combined will bring WVU’s total to more than $32 million in investments in key research areas, she said.

Rick Kraich, vice president for investments at the WVU Foundation, also reported Foundation investment assets totaled $915 million as of Dec. 31. That includes the endowed investment pool which saw a positive return of 9.6 percent for the first six months of FY11 (July-Dec., 2010). The value of the endowed investment pool stood at $365 million as of Dec. 31, Kraich added.

He also reported that unrestricted funds invested by the Foundation on behalf of the University under Senate Bill 603 saw a positive return of 11.6 percent for the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2010.

The Foundation acts as an investment agent for WVU and WVU Hospitals.

In other action, the panel approved a motion authorizing Long to negotiate and execute a personnel action discussed in executive session, including forwarding a Board resolution to the Higher Education Policy Commission.

She noted that the action deals with WVU President James P. Clements’ contract.

Once approved by HEPC and signed by the president and Board chair, the terms of the new contract will be made public immediately. It will become effective June 30, 2011.

Clements came to WVU in June 2009 from Towson University, where he served as provost. State law limits initial presidential contracts to two years; however, governing boards may offer contacts up to five years after the initial contract expires.

Also on the agenda was the election of a secretary to replace Ted Mattern who resigned effective Jan. 4 to accept the state superintendent’s position until a permanent superintendent is named. Charleston attorney Tom Flaharty will fill that post until June when an annual election will be held for a new slate of BOG officers.

In addition, Wheeling attorney William D. Wilmoth, who Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced Wednesday as Mattern’s replacement, was congratulated by the Board and sworn into office by phone. His term will run through June 2013.

As part of the consent agenda, the Board also approved:

  • Amending a textbook affordability policy for the selection, adoption, use and sale of textbooks.
  • A new graduate program, the Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration, in alignment with several goals of the 2020 strategic plan
  • The purchase of the third floor of Marina Tower office building for $3.1 million for administrative offices, subject to approval by the state Attorney General and the Joint Committee on Government and Finance. (WVU previously purchased the second and fourth floors.)

The next meeting of the Board will be April 8 at Potomac State College of WVU.

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