Members of the West Virginia University Board of Governors met in person at the Erickson Alumni Center for the first time since the pandemic began more than a year ago.
A virtual meeting option was available for those unable to be in Morgantown.
President Gordon Gee took the opportunity to talk about the challenges the pandemic created and amplified, most critically, mental health.
“I take this issue very seriously – especially in light of the tragic death of one of our students one week ago today,” Gee said. “Ben, and I did not know Ben, was young man full of promise and possibility, and it breaks my heart to know that he is no longer part of our University family.”
Gee noted that while every experience is different, the pandemic has underscored the concerns of some WVU students about mental health support.
“We are committed to improving and expanding services for our campus community,” Gee said.
He also recognized long-standing racial and social justice break downs laid bare by COVID-19 calling attention to the University’s work to address policing, development of Black student leaders, the campus environment and campus and community partnerships to ensure Black students, faculty, staff, alumni and community members feel safe, valued and appreciated. A website, wvu.edu/inclusive-campus, launched in late March with resources and ways to engage feedback and suggestions for this ongoing initiative.
As the spring semester near its end, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop was joined by Erin Newmeyer, executive director of projects, to outline the latest on COVID-19-related efforts on the Morgantown campus including the number of vaccinations through the University’s clinics for students and employees across the WVU system.
- To date, 2,338 (out of ~6,000) employees have been vaccinated.
- To date, 5,442 (out of ~16,000) students have been vaccinated.
- To date, 204 (out of ~300) employees have been vaccinated.
- To date, 131 (out of 1,167) students have been vaccinated.
- To date, 95 (out of 202) employees have been vaccinated.
- To date, 189 (out of 966) students have been vaccinated.
In addition to a legislative session recap, Alsop also looked ahead to the University’s fall planning and the development of a new ten-year campus plan. The last plan launched in 2012 with an update in 2017; a new plan is required every ten years.
“As we begin to move through the COVID-19 pandemic and with the changing landscape in higher education, now is a perfect time to start this effort,” Alsop said. “It’s going to be about our core, and how we support our academic efforts an our students.”
While in Morgantown, Board members had the opportunity to tour several projects including construction of Reynolds Hall, renovation of the Athletics Performance Center and Milan Puskar Center and Hodges Hall.
Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed provided the Board with an update on the academic transformation initiative underway across the WVU System noting an accelerated timeline.
“Before the end of spring semester, we will be notifying academic units whose programs have been identified for a deeper level of review,” Reed said. “By letting these units know now, this will give them time over the summer and early fall to respond to our findings and to ensure we are taking their feedback into account before we make our preliminary recommendations.”
Reed also praised several faculty award winners and student successes. And she detailed information related to the upcoming commencement ceremonies planned at Milan Puskar Stadium May 15-16.
The Board took action to approve a number of new degree programs and academic expansions, including:
- New Mental Health and Addiction Studies Bachelor of Arts degree program.
- Additional Bridgeport location for WVU School of Nursing.
- Master of Arts in Game Design degree program within the College of Creative Arts.
- New graduate certificate in Sustainable Trails Development in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
Board members also approved:
- The sale of 1.4 acres of land in Star City.
- Creating the Communication Sciences & Disorders clinic at the Health & Education Building and Health Sciences Center.
- Authorizing the leasing of oil and gas beneath approximately 84 acres of land located in Lewis County.
- Renaming three University Farms to better reflect their current farm function related to research, education and outreach.
- Amending the existing lease of farmland to benefit Davis College and J.W. Ruby Research Farm in Reedsville.
The next regular board meeting is scheduled for June 25.
CONTACT: April Kaull, Executive Director of Communications
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