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WVU officials approve tuition hike, budget that bridges a financial gap and a college merger

West Virginia University’s Board of Governors today approved a tuition increase of about 3 percent, signed off on a $1.2 billion budget plan that includes cuts and the use of reserves and endorsed a merger of the Reed College of Media with the College of Creative Arts.

All of the actions are taking place as WVU reacts to major financial strain, aiming to fill a budget gap that has been estimated at $45 million.

Still ahead, the university will continue identifying academic programs to cut while also going through a reduction in force for employees.

Marty Becker

“WVU is quite committed to strengthening financial performance of the university and developing a strong fiscal budgeting process,” said Marty Becker, chairman of the finance board.

“In order to achieve this goal, the university plans to reduce expenses and employ one-time WVU Foundation funds to offset salary and supply expenses during the year.

A substantial portion of bridging the budget gap comes from an estimated $33 million in increased revenues, including one-time-use resources from the WVU Foundation

The university’s proposed budget includes about $10 million less an expenses than the prior year.

Most of that, a little more than $7 million, comes from a reduction in salaries and wages.

University leaders said next year’s budget anticipates 130 fewer staffing positions.

Maryanne Reed

“I want to acknowledge that this has been a very stressful time for our campus, and we are doing everything we can to support our faculty and staff who may be struggling with the uncertainty of how these changes will impact them,” Provost Maryanne Reed said during the board meeting.

Reed has described a timeline of sharing programs of concern and data with the campus the week of July 10, making preliminary recommendations for program reduction or discontinuation on August 11, appeals hearings from late August to early September, and a board of governors vote on final recommendations on Sept. 15.

Reed said the goal is “creating a smaller and more focused program portfolio aligned with student demand, career opportunities and market trends.”

Today, Reed said that a review of graduate programs that launched in January, 2021, identified about a dozen programs to be discontinued.

The Board of Governors today endorsed a merger of the Reed College of Media — named for journalism school founder Perley Isaac Reed, not for the provost — with the College of Creative Arts.

Gordon Gee

That move has received criticism from alumni, but President Gordon Gee praised it today as “a great example of change that puts our students first by aiding their retention, their persistence in graduation. This new college will serve as as a hub of creative activity, hands-on learning and creative storytelling.

“In fact, I love to call it the new College of Creativity. That probably won’t stick, but I like it anyway.”

Board of Governors members approved tuition increases of a little less than 3 percent.

The increases would take effect for this coming fall.

They’re a $132 increase for undergraduate state residents, who would pay $4,824 next fiscal year. Or they’re $396 increases for undergraduate out-of-state students, bumping up to $13,680.

State residents in graduate school would take a $153 increase to $5,454. Out-of-state students in graduate school would pay $405 more, going to $14,130.

“This process is obviously challenging and at times painful for the University community. It is, however, necessary that we reposition ourselves today to be a responsive, relevant university system of the future,” Gee said.

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