Through a variety of presentations, the West Virginia University Board of Governors learned Friday about new initiatives that will enhance student experiences as well as expand the University’s global footprint.

The Board also heard from some of the latest student athletes and veterans to come out of Carolyn Atkins’ long running “Students Speak Out” program in the College of Education and Human Services.

William Brustein, newly appointed vice president for global strategy and international affairs, outlined for the Board a strengthened push to attract international students as well as equip U.S. students with an international vision.

“What we aspire to is to have West Virginia University become a pre-eminent global university,” he said. “This is a means to strengthen the core mission, to enable faculty to be better teachers, better researchers, better global citizens.”

Brustein said a global university is defined as “one in which international experiences and perspectives are fully integrated into the institution’s teaching and learning, research and discovery, and outreach and engagement mission.”

WVU will begin creating “global portals” in areas of the world aligning with WVU’s strengths, interests and land-grant mission, Brustein said. The portals are, in effect, “academic embassies” in those areas to connect with potential students, international alumni and corporate partnerships.

In addition, he said his office would work with each college to equip the students with global literacy and global competence, to the point of offering a global competence certificate to accompany a diploma. “WVU will be known for its work to equip every student with a global competence certificate,” he said.

As for international students who come to WVU, Brustein said the goal is to make sure they “feel the educational experience has been truly positive and that they leave with a smile on their face… They will become our best ambassadors.”

President Gordon Gee said this initiative is bigger than just the University, but also helps connect the state with the world and can become a conduit for business.

Also Friday, Greg Corio, executive director of campus recreation and outdoor education, briefed the board on the broad range of recreational options available for students.

However, he focused on Adventure WV, the outdoor education program that has been expanded in recent years by adding orientation trips for incoming students with a goal of eventually reaching all new students in some fashion.

Corio said Adventure WV has become a national model for helping students be successful in college.

Research shows that those who participate in Adventure WV have a 5.4 percentage point higher retention rate than those who don’t. Meanwhile, six-year graduation rates increase 6.53 percentage points.

Higher retention and graduation rates are important goals of the University, especially with continuing budget challenges. For example, a one-year increase in retention translates to an additional $3.9 million in revenue for the University, according to the WVU Office of Institutional Research. Every dollar spent on Adventure WV returns $10.60 to the University, he said.

“Our adventure program is the best in the country,” Gee said, “in one of the most beautiful spots on the earth.”

Atkins introduced four students, three athletes and one veteran, from her Effective Public Speaking class which has been the home of “Student Athletes Speak Out” and “Veterans Speak Out.”

Wrestler Logan Wilson, baseball player Michael Grove and football player Khairi Sharif addressed the board. Earlier, Army National Guardsman Jeff Gwynn addressed a joint lunch of the WVU Board of Governors and the Alumni Association board of directors.

In addition, Friday’s meeting included the annual report of the Board’s Classified Staff Representative, Dixie Martinelli.

Martinelli, along with classified staff leaders the main campus in Morgantown and WVU Institute of Technology and Potomac State College of WVU pointed out that WVU has reduced classified staff by 435 positions since 2013, dropping from 3,039 to 2,604. “WVU continues to grow yet classified positions have steadily decreased due to budget cuts and difficulty in filling open positions,” she said.

Several other factors, including a more competitive labor market, higher cost of living in Morgantown than other similar college towns, declining state funding and expectations of more budget cuts argue for a general wage increase every year to keep pace, they suggested.

President’s Report
In his report to the Board, Gee lifted up the just concluded Mountaineer Week and individuals recognized as Most Loyal Mountaineers: Bill and Patty Bright, Most Loyal West Virginians; Dianne Anderson, Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer; Dr. Kristi Wood-Turner, Most Loyal Faculty/Professional Staff Mountaineer; and Jimmy Ford, Most Loyal Classified Staff Mountaineer.

“These people represent the best in West Virginia and our University, and so do many other Mountaineers who are working year-round to make our citizens prosperous, healthy and ready to succeed,” he said.

He also highlighted the response to the State of Minds fundraising campaign, which also broke records.

In other news, the Board:

  • Received the annual report on Textbook Affordability, showing WVU has made “successful efforts to hold down textbook cost.”
  • Received reports from eight campus administrative units.

The Board will meet next on the morning of Friday, Dec. 16, with Winter Commencement following in the WVU Coliseum.



CONTACT: John A. Bolt; WVU Office of Communications

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