West Virginia University’s Board of Governors, meeting on the campus of Potomac State College of WVU, approved a resolution Friday (April 8) authorizing the $11 million purchase of a two building, five-story Morgantown apartment complex, currently in bankruptcy.

The Augusta on the Square – a 158-unit, fully-furnished apartment complex adjacent to the Downtown Campus and valued at approximately $26 million – will serve the needs of WVU’s growing graduate and international student populations as well as undergraduates and some faculty, said Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese. It will be available for occupancy in Fall 2011, and meet many of the goals of the new strategic plan, especially as it relates to growing graduate enrollment and a more diverse campus community. In addition, all current leases, mostly involving WVU students, will continue those through 2012.

The purchase price, to be financed through bonds over 20 years, will include the apartment complex on one-acre of land of Falling Run Road (with limited garage parking) and approximately 2 additional acres, Weese said. The payment on the bonds will be funded through rental income and other revenues generated by the property. The transaction still awaits approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

The Augusta, to be renamed at the Board’s June meeting, was constructed in 2007 and totals approximately 151,000 square feet. The University anticipates leasing the units as 20 one-bedroom, 69 two-bedroom and 69 three-bedroom units, or 365 beds.

The apartments are fully furnished and include a kitchen with full-size, stainless steel refrigerator, stove and dishwasher and large private bathrooms. The complex offers controlled access, laundry facilities, informal gathering places and wireless access.

WVU Housing will operate the facility.

Strategic Budget Parameters
Weese also presented a framework for developing WVU’s budget for fiscal 2012, including $4.2 million in new state funds – $1 million of which is earmarked for the new School of Public Health and $3 million to support salary increases critical to retention and recruitment of high quality faculty and staff.

In coordination with WVU’s 2020 strategic plan, the budget will include salary increases, strategic investments, tuition increases and additional academic, research and student health and wellness space, he said. It will be finalized and presented to the Board for approval at the June meeting in Charleston.

An increase in annual tuition of approximately 4.9 percent – or $268 for residents and $844 for non-residents – are being considered, he noted, still keeping WVU “among the lowest tuition rates at flagship universities in the country.”

In comparison to regional competitors, WVU is still considered a great value, Weese noted, citing Penn State’s undergraduate in-state tuition at $15,250 and Pitt’s at $14,936, compared to WVU’s $5,406.

It’s important to note that student scholarships will also increase at the same pace as tuition increases, Weese said, and that base salary increases for employees will remain a priority.

“Faculty and non-classified staff increases are needed to compete for talent and expertise on the national level and to reward employees who continue to demonstrate outstanding performance,” Weese said. “In addition, staff increases will be focused on fully funding the classified staff schedule and providing increases for those employees whose salaries are currently capped because of their placement on that schedule.”

The budget will also include funding for new faculty lines which directly support academics and research as well as capital projects which support expansion of research space and student services projects – all part of the 2020 strategic plan.

Revised Policy Request
Board Chair Carolyn Long announced a request from the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics to amend BOG Policy 18 (Section 4.1) to permit controlled beer sales at certain athletic events. Details of the proposed policy will be available on the Board’s web site (bog.wvu.edu) sometime next week for a 30-day comment period.

The proposal is one of several changes the athletic department is considering for game day operations centered around improving security, fan behavior and public safety at Milan Puskar Stadium this fall. These include revisions to practices around exiting and re-entering the stadium and moving smoking areas outside the concourse, athletic officials say.

President’s Report
WVU President Jim Clements thanked Potomac State Campus Provost Kerry O’Dell and his team for hosting the Board, and praised the efforts of the school’s faculty, staff and students for the work they’ve done to increase enrollment on the campus by 24 percent over the past five years. Fall enrollment, he said, also broke records with an all-time high of 1,836 students.

At WVU, enrollment trends look strong as well, he said, with freshmen applications up more than 8 percent and graduate student applications ahead of last year’s by more than 7 percent.

A significant recent investment in graduate education of nearly $10 million will boost those numbers even more, Clements added.

Other notable achievements on the main campus include a Top 10 finish by the debate team in a national competition, and a first place award by a faculty-led student chemistry group in a research abstract competition.

Work continues to progress on getting a new student health center built on campus along with new outdoor recreation space and a club sport complex, he said. Groundbreakings are planned for spring.

Searches for a vice president for research and dean of agriculture and natural resources are also under way, he said, and a new dean of creative arts, Paul Kreider, has been named and will join the team this summer.

At Potomac State, he cited two students who were recently named to the Phi Theta Kappa All-West Virginia Academic Team and another who was the youngest student to ever make to the final round of the West Virginia Statewide Business Plan Competition for his Going Greener Lawn Care and Landscaping business.

Clements also acknowledged Potomac State math professor Gary Seldomridge for his recent Teacher of the Year honors from the West Virginia Council on Teachers of Mathematics, and cited one of WVU’s children’s doctors, Dr. Robert Gustafson, a native of Keyser, for receiving the Children’s Miracle Network’s prestigious Achievement Award.

He praised the governor and state lawmakers for the increased investment in WVU’s base budget, when many states are facing huge deficits. Other bills passed this session will allow WVU to invest more funds with their Foundations and remove the sunset provision on investments; another will extend Research Trust Fund contributions and matches for two more years.

Other Business
In other action, the board approved $641,906 in new Research Trust Fund contributions for submission to the state for matching funds, bringing the total approved by the Board to just over $16.7 million.

The new funding, certified by the WVU Foundation, comes from 12 sources, said WVU Board Vice Chair Drew Payne, who presented the following gifts and pledges for approval:

  • Alpha Natural Resources Endowment for Energy Research – $225,000
  • Preservati Cancer Research Endowment – $150,000
  • Morton Scholarship – $98,498
  • Branson-Maddrell Endowed Professorship in Orthodontics – $91,942
  • James Bergen and Randy Montieth Anderson Endowed Scholarship in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering – $25,000
  • William “Bill” Closser Memorial Electrical Engineering Scholarship – $25,000
  • Grace C. Clements Speech Pathology and Audiology Research Endowment – $15,957
  • Schoepp Neuroscience Research Student Support Fund – $5,000
  • Norma Mae Huggins Cancer Research Endowment – $3,000
  • James A. Kent Endowment for Biomedical Engineering – $1,000
  • Badzek Family Endowment for Nursing Research – $885
  • James P. Boland MD Dept of Surgery Endowed Research Fund – $624

With this request, private and state dollars combined will bring WVU’s total to more than $33 million in investments in key research areas.

Also, Board member William D. Wilmoth, an attorney from Wheeling, attended his first meeting. He was briefly sworn in via phone at the February meeting to replace Ted Mattern, who resigned to assume the state superintendent’s position on a temporary basis. Leslie Cottrell, faculty representative, was also introduced. She will take a position on the Board in July, replacing Nigel Clark.

A committee to nominate a new slate of officers to be presented at the June meeting was named. Chairing the committee is Diane Lewis; members include Ed Robinson, Tom Flaherty and Bill Nutting.

The Board’s next meeting will be June 3 in Charleston.

-WVU-

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