As it celebrates its 150th anniversary, West Virginia University has outlined a mission of leading transformation, through partnership and based on the values of service, curiosity, respect, accountability and appreciation.
The Board of Governors endorsed a mission, vision and values statement at its regular meeting Friday (April 21), culminating a year-long process kicked off by President Gordon Gee's State of the University speech on March 1, 2016.
"We're going to lead in education, and we're going to lead in health care and we're going to lead in developing prosperity," Gee said in introducing the statements.
They are "a way for us to think about ourselves and everyday remind ourselves of who we are and what we are," he said.
"As a land-grant institution," the mission statement says, "the faculty, staff and students at West Virginia University commit to creating a diverse and inclusive culture that advances education, healthcare and prosperity for all by providing access and opportunity; by advancing high-impact research; and by leading transformation in West Virginia and the world through local, state and global engagement."
The vision: "As one West Virginia University, we are purposeful in our studies and our work so that we can partner with our communities – both near and far – to bring needed and valued solutions to real-life problems within the pillars of education, healthcare and prosperity."
That mission and vision are supported by the five values of:
· Service – "We seek opportunities to serve others and are committed to providing the highest quality of service."
· Curiosity – "We ask questions, seek new opportunities and change through innovation."
· Respect – "We are respectful, transparent and inclusive with each other."
· Accountability – We perform at our very best every day to create a University that is responsive, efficient and effective."
· Appreciation – "We support and value each other's contributions as we build a community that is One WVU."
Gee said the statements reflect "the power of our story. We have wonderful facts and figures, but behind every one of those there is a story. There is no institution that has greater stories to tell."
Also at the meeting, Rob Alsop, vice president for legal, governmental affairs and entrepreneurial engagement, updated the board on legislative issues related to the University, especially the status of the state budget discussion and proposed cuts to support for higher education in general and WVU, in particular.
Alsop said in many ways WVU had become a victim of its own success as legislators believed "we can manage."
He said it could be June before the University would know the amount of state support it would receive in the fiscal year beginning July 1.
The meeting, the final one of the academic year, also featured reports from faculty and student representatives.
Richard Turton, the WVU Bolton Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering and a faculty representative to the board, outlined the many responsibilities of faculty members to fulfill the teaching, research and service goals of a land-grant university, illustrating the significant load and responsibilities they carry.
Then, Stan Hileman, a professor in the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology in the School of Medicine and a faculty representative on the Board, presented comparisons of faculty salaries at WVU with other Big 12 conference schools, other land-grants and other top research universities, concluding that:
• Faculty salaries at WVU are lower than peers in almost all cases.
• Particularly worrisome is that this applies to assistant professor salaries, making them ripe for "poaching."
• The high cost of living in Morgantown exacerbates differences in salaries.
• The current process to manage employee benefits with multiple third party vendors is problematic and leads to inefficiencies. WVU needs to be the owner of the information and drive the process.
Noting the pay gap between WVU and its peer institutions, Turton estimated that it would take a 4 percent per year increase over the next decade to eliminate the discrepancies.
Lieving said that even with the significant challenges presented by the coming move to Beckley, e.g., having to find new housing, moving offices etc., the faculty is optimistic and " handling their duties and all the stress with diligence, intelligence and fortitude."
The faculty are very much aware that the move to Beckley "has allowed our institution to avoid the possibility of being closed. Tech now has more than a fighting chance to grow," he said.
In addition to providing an overview of Potomac State, Chisholm said the University's One WVU emphasis is well-received on campus and helps the institution feel part of and appreciated as part of the larger WVU System.
Julie Merow, outgoing president of the WVU Student Government Association, reported on activities for the year, highlighting the organization's relief work in Southern West Virginia following devastating flooding in June, including eight trips to the region, more than 800 volunteer hours buy 147 volunteers. Other highlights included expanded student participation in SGA and hosting other Big 12 student government groups on campus.
Blake N. Humphrey, newly elected SGA president, will take over from Merow on July 1.
Reporting on academic issues, Provost Joyce McConnell, celebrated several recent announcements of WVU students receiving highly competitive national scholarships, including three Critical Language Scholars, two Goldwater scholars and a record seven Boren Scholars. In addition, the 20 incoming Bucklew Scholars have been announced.
She also reported the Campus Read for 2017-2018 will be Hidden Figures: The Story of African-American Women who Helped Win the Space Race.
"Several of the real-life women who are central characters in this important book have close ties to West Virginia, including Katherine Johnson, now 98 years old," and was the first African-American to attend graduate school at WVU, McConnell said. WVU recognized her with a Presidential Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters last spring.
"We hope to make this year’s Campus Read even more exciting and inclusive than last year’s, so we will be soliciting ideas from around campus for events and programming," McConnell said.
She also cited numerous faculty honors.
In his regular report to the Board, Gee noted several areas in which the University is improving the life of West Virginians, including:
· WVU Extension's annual Community Leadership Academy to help emerging and established leaders from around the state develop leadership, good governance and economic strategy skills.
In other business, the Board:
· Ratified a term sheet agreement with KVC Health Systems Inc. regarding the use and potential eventual sale of property in Fayette County being vacated by WVU Tech's move to Beckley.
· Approved several changes to academic programs at both WVU and Potomac State College.
· Appointed a nominating committee comprising J.R. Roberts, chair; Dixie Martinelli, Tom Jones, Turton and Kim Weaver.
The next meeting is set for June 15-16 in Morgantown.
CONTACT: John A. Bolt; University Relations/Communications
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