West Virginia University’s Board of Governors on Friday (Sept. 25) approved a new master’s degree program in the emerging field of business data analysis. The new degree, which crosses many disciplines, is a one-year, full-time online program with two three-day residencies aimed at filling a void in the emerging new field of “big data,” according to Provost Joyce McConnell.

The Board also formally named a new building on the Evansdale Campus—a public-private partnership that will house food vendors, an innovation lab, classrooms, a book store and student services offices—as Evansdale Crossing. The facility will open later this fall near the Engineering PRT station, and is designed to connect the lower and upper parts of campus through bridges and stairs.

In his report to the Board, President Gordon Gee recapped his summer tour, especially the integration of students into the experience. He plans to add an internship component next year.

“It is essential that University involvement include more than me. Students need to be out there among our hills and valleys experiencing West Virginia firsthand,” Gee said.

“They need to be informed of the challenges, as well as the strengths, of our state’s citizens. Having this firsthand view enables them to think about the potential impact they could have on those communities. Establishing meaningful relationships with those communities is vital to the growth of the University and the state as a whole.”

Several students, including student representative on the Board George Capel, spoke about the impact of those trips, saying, “it’s important to get to know the state outside of Morgantown and to appreciate it as the place we call home.”

The Board also heard from Dan Carder, interim director of WVU’s Center for Alternative Fuels, Engines and Emissions, about the Center’s research that raised questions about emissions levels in certain Volkswagen models during a 2014 real-world study.

The Environmental Protection Agency cited WVU’s independent analysis in their recent announcement to investigate Volkswagen’s use of defeat device software.

The story has received international, national, state and local media attention, but researchers contend they did not intend to make news. They simply set out to discover.

In her report, Provost McConnell updated the Board on the “transformation” occurring in the academic arena, citing progress at the new Energy Institute, the Rockefeller School and Entrepreneurship and Innovation Center as examples.

She said the Higher Learning Commission representative was on campus recently to review the plans for WVU Beckley and the move of WVU Tech to that campus in 2017. “She (the HLC representative) referred to that purchase and decision as `transformative,’ ” McConnell said, “and was supportive of such a bold and innovative move.”

WVU’s undergraduate students will now have a “dean of completion” she added, with the hiring of Joe Seiaman in academic advising.

WVU Foundation President and CEO Cindi Roth reported that “A State of Minds, the comprehensive campaign being conducted on behalf of the University, has brought in nearly $900 million through June 30. That’s over 90 percent of the $1 billion goal with more than two years remaining in the campaign, and creating 632 new endowed student scholarships, 24 endowed faculty chairs, 21 endowed professorships and 199 new funds to assist research efforts.

Roth said the campaign’s success was bolstered by $125 million in new gifts and pledges in fiscal year 2015, the second highest fiscal year of giving ever in the Foundation’s history.

“It’s not a matter of if we’ll meet our billion dollar goal, but how far past that billion we will go,” Roth said. “The key word is momentum.”

Rick Kraich, vice president for investments at the WVU Foundation, reported that Foundation-managed investment assets totaled $1.3 billion as of June 30, including the long-term investment pool which had a return of 3.1 percent for fiscal year 2015. The value of the long-term investment pool stood at $534 million as of June 30, he added. The Foundation acts as an investment agent for WVU, WVU Hospitals and the WVU Research Corp.

Also approved by the BOG on consent agenda:

• Upgrades to the Engineering Sciences Building, floors G, 3, 4, 5 and 6 for a cost of $2.5 million, with completion by August 2016
• University apartment rates for 2016-2017
• The termination of two undergraduate degrees at the WVU Institute of Technology for low enrollment—industrial relations and human resources and management information systems
• Policy 56, drug and alcohol testing for federal transit administration- and federal motor carrier safety administration-covered positions
• Appointments on BOG committees and county Extension committees

New BOG member Kim Weaver was in attendance at the meeting; Gregory Babe, also a recent appointee, was unable to attend.

The next regular meeting of the BOG is Nov. 6 in Morgantown.



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