By the fall semester of 2019, West Virginia University expects to have almost 1,100 students residing in Living-Learning Communities, a re-envisioned approach to bridging the gap between academic and non-academic life on campus to help build retention.
In a report to the Board of Governors Friday (Feb. 16), Dean of Students Corey Farris and Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education Paul Kreider reported on the history of the initiative as well as plans for its growth during the next few years.
There are currently seven LLCs, ranging from first generation students to engineering to creative arts to forensic sciences. Some of the communities require an assignment, others are self-selecting. Four more are planned by the fall of 2019, including business and health professionals.
“Broadly speaking, Living Learning Communities are retention tools or recruitment tools that engage students more fully by connect students with what’s going on inside the classroom and outside the classroom,” Farris said.
At WVU, the LLCs trace their history to the former Residence Faculty Leader program in which faculty lived with or nearby select residence halls. The RFL program was discontinued in spring of 2016 because of decreasing effectiveness and cost. By comparison, the LLC programs are projected to cost $250,000 a year, while the RFL program at its peak was more than $1 million.
“The LLCs create opportunities for students to engage with faculty and staff, and explore their academic interests outside the classroom,” Farris said.
Early signs show increased retention among the students living in the communities, especially in forensic sciences which experienced a 5 percent increase in students remaining in the major after the fall semester.
In other academic news, Executive Senior Associate Athletic Director Steve Uryasz reported on the classroom achievements of athletes, 57 percent of whom made the Honor Roll in fall 2017. For 11 consecutive semesters, student-athletes have maintained an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher; 13 of the 17 teams have a GPA of 3.0 or higher.
Provost Joyce McConnell updated the Board on the inaugural winter Intersession, noting that enrollment was greater than anticipated at 282 students and the 13 courses provided a gross revenue of $279, 200.
“We expect to grow the program and service our students and expand our online offering,” she said
Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives, updated the Board on legislative issues, noting that, unlike previous years, state budget does not include any cuts in higher education funding.
“Also of interest to the University,” Alsop said, “we have been closely watching campus carry, and we continue to maintain that no legislation is necessary and that the best position for the state is to continue to allow local Boards of Governors to make decisions about allowing guns on campus.
“We also continue to monitor legislation relating to the First Amendment and believe that as a University we are leaders in facilitating robust debate and dialogue on campus.”
He also predicted that items relating to teacher pay and PEIA have and are expected to continue to dominate the legislative session until a deal is reached.
The board also approved a notice of rulemaking for new rules pertaining to academic freedom, faculty makeup and performance and related issues.
The action primarily responds to a legislative action last year permitting the University to create its own rules instead of being bound by policies from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.
General Counsel Stephanie Taylor noted there was little change in substance in the change from policies to rules, and it primarily consisted of amending, approving, renaming/renumbering, and, in some cases, repealing current policies.
A 30-day comment period will run through March 20 and can be summited at http://policies.wvu.edu, where the proposed rules are posted. Subsequently, the comments will be published and the proposed may be amended as a result of the comments. The Board will take up final approval at a subsequent meeting.
In other action, the board:
• Approved a new adventure recreation management major at WVU Tech’s College of Business, Humanities and Social Sciences in Beckley.
• Approved a new organizational leadership major in the College of Business and Economics in Morgantown.
• Approved the termination of several certificate programs, including in digital marketing communication, interactive technologies and serious gaming, post-master of nursing certificates in women’s health nursing practice and leadership, integrated mental and behavioral health and non-profit management.
The next meeting is scheduled for April 20 in Morgantown.
CONTACT: John A. Bolt; University Relations/Communications