Noting that the budget required a previously approved tuition increase to support student initiatives and faculty and staff raises, and to offset reductions in state appropriations, BOG Chairman James W. Dailey II said, “It is important to maintain the momentum WVU has been experiencing in recent years, and this budget reflects that vision.
“While the budget includes increased tuition – which is always unpleasant – it also includes significant new dollars for student financial aid and programming,” Dailey said.
In addition, President Gordon Gee said, “This budget is about repositioning the University. It’s about repositioning us to move forward. It’s easy to think about raising tuition; it’s not easy to think about using those dollars in a very effective way.”
In approving the tuition increase last month, the Board also announced the “Dream First” campaign to raise $50 million in scholarships for both in- and out-of-state students. The University is also increasing its need-based aid by $2.25 million to help students and their families with educational costs.
Recognizing the impact of the increased tuition – which still remains among the lowest of WVU’s peers – the Board took the unusual step of setting tuition earlier and apart from consideration of the entire budget to give as much time as possible for students and families to adjust to the shift. The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission must still approve resident tuition.
Despite an approximate $1 million increase in the pop tax – which goes to support the Health Sciences Center, state appropriations fell $3.4 million to $188.3 million because of other reductions enacted during the most recent legislative session.
In presenting the budget, Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese, said, “We are facing an increasingly challenging financial and operating environment due to: a base reduction in state appropriations of about $4.3 million; an increasingly competitive enrollment environment; an increasingly competitive market for personnel; and reductions in federal appropriations and federally funded research grants.”
On the expense side, Weese said, “The University must also continue to invest in its budget goals: support of new student scholarship initiatives; support of new strategic initiatives focused around student success as part of Project 168; and improving graduation rates, information technology, innovation and entrepreneurship, and improving the overall quality of the academic experience.
“We also need to offset the reduction in state funds; we need to provide a pay raise for faculty and staff; and we need to continue to invest in our facilities; and we need to support ongoing operating cost increases.”
Overall, revenues are $1.14 billion with expenses of $1.04 billion. However the revenues reflect a $129 million bump because of the transfer to the University of University Park, a public-private mixed-use student residential development. Without the property transfer, revenues are $1.01 billion.
The budget also reflects increases in athletic income based on growth in Big 12 conference revenue sharing and two additional football games, higher housing and dining fees, but no growth in grant or contract revenues.
The budget also includes a 3 percent salary pool increase program for employees. Other than a $504 annual increase from the governor and legislature last year, employees have received no base increase in two years. Funding of a shift from a 37.5- to 40-hour workweek is also included.
The raises for 7,000 employees will be implemented in October, Weese said, with specifics to come later. “However, it is important to note the focus of the raise plan will be on merit and market,” he said.
The Board took two actions to continue to improve campus infrastructure.
It approved a 10-year infrastructure master plan for the Health Sciences Center, which opened in 1957 and is still operating in many of the original buildings. Also approved was the issuance of up to $20 million in revenue bonds to finance phase one of the plan. The bonds will be financed through future HSC revenues.
The first phase will consist of improving core heating, ventilation and air conditioning and electrical systems. Future phases include additional HVAC and electrical work plus roof replacements.
The Board also approved the issuance of up to $31 million in revenue bonds, or other financial instruments, to fund phase three of the modernization of the campus’ Personal Rapid Transit system. The proceeds will be used to replace cars and infrastructure repair. The PRT Modernization Plan was approved by the Board in 2014.
Later Friday, the WVU Foundation announced that a $6.7 million gift from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust will transform the equine educational facilities at the 995-acre Reedsville Experiment Farm in Preston County into a new, modern teaching, research and extension center. The center will be named the Hazel Ruby McQuain Equine Education and Resource Center and the farm the J.W. Ruby Research Farm.
In his report, Gee praised Dailey, who is completing his term as chair.
“Jim Dailey is an ethical and quiet leader,” Gee said. “Every term we use to define Mountaineer, that is the definition of Jim Dailey. He has done a remarkable job.”
In an emotional farewell, Dailey said, “These last few years in my life have been the most rewarding that I’ve encountered.” Noting the challenges that faced the university in 2010 when then-President Jim Clements left, Dailey praised both the board and the senior leadership team for coming together “to help us find a president.”
He then turned to Gee and said, “As an only child, I never had any brother and sisters, but I will consider you my brother from this time forward.”
Provost Joyce McConnell lifted up several academic achievements and programs, including an annual grant of about $3.25 million from National Institutes of Health that is jointly administered by WVU and Marshall University to support students and faculty conducting biomedical research at primarily undergraduate institutions throughout the state.
In other business, the Board:
- Approved a new bachelor’s of science degree in public health. The degree would offer two areas of emphasis: community and population health or public health sciences.
- Approved the naming of buildings in the University Park complex. Residence halls will be known as Oakland Hall East and Oakland Hall West. Apartment and retail spaces will be 442 Oakland, 475 Oakland and 480 Oakland.
- Approved spending $4.5 million from current funds to upgrade Percival and Allen halls to comply with fire safety requirements.
- Approved creation of a new BOG committee, the Special Committee for Classified Matters, to enable the University to more actively seek work with the Department of Defense.
The Board also elected new officers: Thomas V. Flaherty, chair; William D. Wilmoth, vice-chair; and Diane Lewis, secretary.
In addition, it passed resolutions thanking departing members Lisa DiBartolomeo and Chris Nyden, who had served by virtue of their positions as chair of the Faculty Senate and Student Government Association respectively. Richard Turton, the current Faculty Senate president, and George Capel, SGA president, will begin their service at the next meeting, scheduled for Sept. 25 in Morgantown.
Also, on Thursday, the Board traveled to nearby Beckley to tour the campus of the former Mountain State University, which WVU completed the purchase of on Monday.
Noting the meeting at Glade Springs, near Beckley, Gee said, “It’s comforting to be here. This has been a journey.”
“The enthusiasm of this community … is just something that we will deeply appreciate and more importantly something that they will benefit from. We are committed to this community and we’re committed to this program and I believe, without overstating it, will make an enormous difference to the quality of life for so many people.”
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