Anticipating a slightly smaller enrollment and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the West Virginia University Board of Governors on Friday approved a budget for the coming fiscal year more than $23 million less than the previous year.
“As we discuss the budget for fiscal year 2021, we are facing some uncertain times as we plan for a return to campus in the fall under very different conditions,” said Paula Congelio, vice president for finance and chief financial officer. “This year will be one of transition and flexibility as we go through the year and learn how to cope and live and learn with the COVID virus.”
The Board unanimously approved a budget of $1.083 billion for the fiscal year beginning July 1. The previous year’s budget was $1.107 billion. Total revenues are predicted to be $1.08 billion, compared to $1.09 billion the previous year.
Congelio said expenses included a $36.2 million reduction in salaries, benefits, supplies and utilities and $4.9 million in COVID-19 related expenses, even after various reimbursements.
Other underlying factors were:
- No tuition and fee increase.
- A first-time freshmen enrollment of 4,800 on the Morgantown campus, down from 4,960.
- Housing revenue increase of 3 percent in Morgantown and Keyser but a 3 percent decline in occupancy.
- Decrease of 2.75 percent in total student financial aid, reflecting the expected overall lower student enrollment.
- Flat state appropriations.
- A slight increase in revenue from grants and contracts.
- A 5 percent reduction in other revenues.
The Board previously approved holding base tuition and fees flat for the next academic year, with the exception of the WV Invest programs at WVU Keyser, whose tuition is tied to the WV Community and Technical College average tuition. There will be small increases and decreases in other fees, mostly for student supplies and laptops that reflect changing costs.
WVU announced plans earlier this month to return to in-person classes on Aug. 19 with a shortened semester and specific instructions on ways to reduce chances for any possible COVID-19 exposure.
Referring to those plans, President Gordon Gee said, “It is critical that we each take all of the safety precautions seriously if we wish to be on campus this fall.
“That means we must get comfortable with wearing masks, and as I say, we must make masks cool, and physically distancing. We must wash our hands and be considerate of those around us. By any stretch of the imagination, this fall will be very different – there is no doubt. But if we practice the guidelines we have put in place to protect one another, I am very confident we can have a successful semester.”
The Board meeting was rescheduled until mid-afternoon so members could attend the funeral of Betty Puskar, a long-time supporter of the University and its programs, especially to fight cancer.
“Betty was an amazing West Virginian and proud Mountaineer who turned her personal battle into a victory for all West Virginians,” Chair David Alvarez said. “After recovering from breast cancer, she became a fierce ally and helped build WVU’s Cancer Center. She delivered access to life-saving treatments and tirelessly raised money for research.
“While we grieve the loss of a caring and dedicated spirit, her legacy will always be with us in the centers she helped create and in the lives she touched,” Alvarez said. “On behalf of the Board of Governors, we extend our deepest sympathies and gratitude.”
The Board also approved $2.9 million for remediation of a hillside along Monongahela Boulevard where a boulder fell on Feb. 11, striking a vehicle with fragments hitting a Personal Rapid Transit car. The remediation plan involves stabilizing upper sandstone seam over a 400-foot length and an engineered attenuator barrier fence of 1,600-feet at the bottom of the slope along Mon Blvd to catch any rocks that may fall down hillside.
Also approved was $2 million for dining improvements. A Panda Express restaurant will replace the current Burgershop in the Mountainlair and a full-service Starbucks and convenience store will occupy space formerly used by Sheetz in the University Place apartments. The funds will come from funds provided by Sodexo as part of its contract with the University.
In addition, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed briefed the board on academic steps taken or planned in order to resume on-campus instruction this fall.
In other business, the Board approved:
- Extending emergency leave authorization in response to COVID-19.
- Termination of the elementary education/advanced and higher education curriculum and teaching majors within the master of arts in education program of College of Education and Human Services.
- Termination of doctor of philosophy in biostatistics in the School of Public Health.
The Board also re-elected officers for the coming year, beginning July 1. In addition to Alvarez as chair, Tom Jones and Taunja Willis Miller will continue as vice-chair and secretary respectively, contingent upon their reappointment by Gov. Jim Justice.
The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Sept. 18 in Morgantown.
CONTACT: John A. Bolt
WVU Office of Communications
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