The West Virginia University Board of Governors on Thursday (June 5) approved a $980 million budget for the next fiscal year, including tuition increases for the main campus of $252 per semester for resident students and $396 for non-residents.

At the same time, the Board approved increasing financial aid at a higher percentage rate than tuition and fees, including adding an additional $1.5 million in need-based scholarship aid.

The budget reflects nearly $20 million in state funding reductions over the last two fiscal years. With the new budget, WVU’s dependence on state funding drops to 19.6 percent, meaning changes in state funding have a more significant impact on the University.

“While we recognize that increasing the tuition even one dollar is a concern for our current and prospective students, a West Virginia University education remains one of the best investments you can make,” President Gordon Gee said. “Even with the rising cost of higher education, the return over a lifetime remains substantial – even into the millions of dollars.”

The budget also includes a state-mandated $507 across-the-board salary increase for state employees, effective July 1, as well as a $2 million pool for additional faculty and staff raises.

WVU’s tuition remains among the lowest of its peer institutions, both regionally and nationally. For the fiscal year beginning July 1, resident tuition and base fees for undergraduates will be $3,480 per semester, and $10,212 for non-residents.

Divisional campus tuition and fees will increase to $3,024, up $120, per semester for resident students at West Virginia University Institute of Technology and $1,740, up $72, for two-year programs at Potomac State College of West Virginia University. Non-residents will pay $7,596 and $4,729 respectively.

On-campus housing and meal costs will also increase slightly, depending on location and configuration. Fees associated with specific programs could add to the total cost.

Ryan Campione, immediate past president of the WVU Student Government Association attending his last meeting as student representative on the board, said, “This is an issue that has kept me up the last several nights. I sympathize with the situation WVU is currently in, while trying to maintain a quality education.”

Campione, who cast the only negative vote, said, “I’d really like to encourage the state of West Virginia to come together as a whole and invest in higher education.”

The building of the fiscal 2015 budget was based on several guiding principles, said Liz Reynolds, associate vice president for planning and treasury operations:

  • Protect the core academic mission.
  • Invest in the institution’s Strategic Plan.
  • Attend to infrastructure, including technology and facilities.
  • Strive to give raises in FY15.

Many steps were taken to reduce costs, including merging or eliminating several offices and operations, reduce services, change or update procedures to make them more efficient and reduce personnel, either by not filling positions, through retirements and attrition or reduction in workforce.

The budget “has a positive bottom line after our normal adjustments and continues our commitment to financial stability, positive cash balance and continued investments in our strategic plan, our infrastructure and our employees and students,” Reynolds said.

In briefing the Board’s finance committee last week, Dan Durbin, senior associate vice president for finance, acknowledged that while the process had been difficult, “it was also enriching because it allowed us to relook at our traditional practices and re-engineer” where possible.

“It also allowed us to be entrepreneurial and look at alternative revenue streams.”

However, he told the committee, “Additional reductions are going to stress the system even more.”

Board member Diane Lewis, chair of the Board’s Facilities and Revitalization Committee, told the Board that even though the University has about $661 million in projects under way on campus, only about a third of the cost is being funded by general fees.

“It is not tied directly to the capital projects,” she said.

The meeting was held at Jackson’s Mill, operated by the WVU Extension Service. Board members were given an overview of the Extension Service, which is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the federal Smith-Lever Act establishing the service.

“We see ourselves as the front door to the university in every county,” Interim Extension Director Steve Bonanno said. “We are sometimes the first and only connection to higher education.”

“We take the people’s university, that is WVU, to the people. That’s our mission,” he said.

Bonanno said the Extension Service is the University’s third largest academic unit behind the Health Sciences Center and the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Noting that Extension agents are faculty members, Bonanno also said, “We do research. Our faculty are actively engaged in research activities,” including more than $8 million in direct research and involved in millions more.

Jackson’s Mill, the first 4-H camp in the nation, is also home to the University’s Fire Service Extension, providing a one-of-a-kind training facility for volunteer and professional firefighters from around the state and the nation.

“We are the land-grant university in action across the state,” he said.

Gee also praised Ken Gray, who is retiring June 30 after more than 16 years as vice president of student affairs.

“Ken has been a valued soldier of this University,” Gee said. “We have such deep appreciation for you and what you’ve done.”

He also praised Fred Butcher, retiring as vice president for planning and operations at the Health Sciences Center. He has held multiple positions since coming to the University 1978.

“Fred has been a singular individual of great distinction working in our academic medical center,” Gee said. “Your grace under pressure has been so vital for this University.”

Also Board Chair James W. Dailey II called retiring student member Campione “an outstanding leader” who has contributed a lot to the board during his tenure.

Campione introduced Chris Nyden, the incoming SGA president and student representative to the board.

Other highlights from the meeting:

  • Applications from high-achieving students are up, from 2,891 to 2,967.
  • The Board approved an updated and expanded policy governing discrimination, harassment, sexual and domestic misconduct, stalking and retaliation.
  • The Board re-elected its current officers to one-year terms, beginning July 1: Dailey, chairman; Thomas V. Flaherty, vice-chairman; and Ellen S. Cappellanti, secretary.



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