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WVU could face more cuts this week at libraries, LGBTQ+ Center and more

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WVU could face more cuts this week at libraries, LGBTQ+ Center and more

Sep 18, 2023 | 10:05 am ET
By Amelia Ferrell Knisely
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WVU could face more cuts this week at libraries, LGBTQ+ Center and more
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Woodburn Hall on the downtown campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)

More job cuts and campus program changes could be announced at West Virginia University this week. 

The news from university leadership comes just days after the Board of Governors overwhelmingly signed off Sept. 15 on eliminating 28 academic programs and 143 faculty positions from its Morgantown campus — a move that was expected despite fervent pushback from faculty, student and alumni.

Their decision was in an effort to make up for a $45 million shortfall.

University leadership have also been reviewing WVU’s academic support programs for potential cost-saving changes. 

Programs under review include the libraries, Honors College, Office of Global Affairs, LGBTQ+ Center and the Women’s Resource Center. 

WVU Communications Director April Kaull said on Friday, directly after the Board of Governor’s vote, that information about changes to academic support programs could be released “in the coming days or weeks.”

University President E. Gordon Gee didn’t provide details when asked if more cuts were expected. 

“We were looking very carefully at every program at the institution in every office to make sure you’re getting the best result with the best people,” he said.

Gee continued, “We don’t know what’s going to happen. We do know that we need to be effective and efficient in every aspect of the institution, including the President’s Office, including vice president’s office.”

The WVU Library is operating on a 30% reduced budget this year. They’ve reduced staffing and suspended purchases of new educational materials, including books.

In August, the Board of Governors approved severance packages for certain clinical and library-track faculty as the Board prepared for the pending faculty and staff cuts. Those library positions were previously excluded from severance plans. 

Here is a full list of academic support programs under review:

  • ADVANCE Center
  • Career Services
  • Center for Veterans, Military and Family Programs
  • CLASS
  • Community-based Testing Center
  • Honors College
  • Institutional Research
  • Libraries
  • LGBTQ+ Center
  • Office of Accessibility Services
  • Office of Global Affairs
  • Office of Graduate Education and Life
  • Registrar
  • Smith Outdoor Economic Development Collaborative
  • STEM Center
  • Teaching and Learning Commons
  • University Testing Center
  • Women’s Resource Center
  • WVU Online
  • WVU Press

WVU Extension and the Keyser and Beckley campuses will also undergo a program and financial review beginning in January. 

The university already lost around 130 employees earlier this year as administrators tried to save $7 million.

Work to implement program changes gets underway 

The Board of Governors has acknowledged that the waves of changes at WVU have happened on an “accelerated” timeline. 

Following the Board’s vote to cut academic majors and jobs, Gee said the university planned on “squeezing the $45 million [deficit] out almost immediately.” Work will begin today to begin implementing the changes. 

The university will phase out its foreign language majors and minors, mathematics graduate programs and more. Some changes will go into effect next year. 

The cuts are expected to affect less than 2% students overall, administrators said, and the majority of students in majors impacted will be able to finish their degrees at WVU.

Faculty and staff who are in positions eliminated due to program reduction or discontinuation are expected to be notified by mid-October. 

University leaders have largely blamed declining student enrollment for the financial issues.

WVU’s enrollment has declined 10 percent since 2015, far worse than the national average.

Faculty and students have pushed back on the university’s narrative regarding the cause of the deficit. 

Earlier this month, full-time faculty members overwhelmingly passed a “vote of no confidence” in Gee, saying he and administrators’ “poor planning, faulty decision making and financial mismanagement” contributed to the shortfall. 

Gee has faced criticism for lavish spending while leading WVU and past institutions, like the Ohio State University and Vanderbilt University.

He plans to step down in 2025 and said he’d like to teach at the WVU College of Law.