WHEELING, W.Va. — The Wheeling-Charleston Diocese is showing its support for Wheeling University in the form of a $2 million gift.
The Diocese announced the gift Friday less than a day after the university’s board of trustees voted to place President Michael Mihalyo and Senior Vice President Joseph Petrella on paid administrative leave.
In a statement released Friday the Diocese said, “The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is proud to support Wheeling University and its efforts to provide Catholic higher education in the state of West Virginia. We are confident that board leadership, in collaboration with the accreditation body, can determine a way forward in order to serve current and future students and the needs of residents of the greater region.”
Wheeling University officials also announced Friday the school is going through a reorganization. All of this coming while the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Higher Learning Commission are conducting reviews.
The HEPC was set to vote on the school’s annual reauthorization Friday morning but pulled back after hearing about the personnel decisions concerning Mihalyo and Petrella.
“This morning (Friday) at approximately 9:50 a.m., about ten minutes before this meeting we learned that the President and Senior Vice President have been placed on administrative leave,” Corley Dennison, Vice-Chancellor of Academic Affairs of HEPC told MetroNews. “Nothing was discussed about that with the new board chair. Clearly, we need to review all of this information and the commissioners have voted to postpone reauthorization.”
The HEPC will visit the university Aug. 12 with a reauthorization vote set for Aug. 16.
The Higher Learning Commission, which is the accrediting body for schools in more than a dozen states, is currently considering a formal complaint against Wheeling University, Dennison said.
The board changed the school’s name to Wheeling University from Wheeling Jesuit University on July 18. It removed Jesuit from the name after the Maryland Province for the Society of Jesus announced in April it was ending its affiliation with the school because Jesuit teaching was being eliminated on the Wheeling campus.
The board of trustees voted in March to eliminate 19 of 30 programs at the school including the theology program. The school has been struggling financially for several years.