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WVU’s Academic Transformation to focus on student success initiatives in 2022

girl in mask writes at curved desk with laptop in front of her, other students in the background

Julia Lopez, a history major in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, draws a map of her past, current and future self on the first day of her geography 303 class in Brooks Hall, Aug. 18, 2021. (WVU Photo/Brian Persinger)

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Student success, the cornerstone of West Virginia University’s academic mission, will become an even greater priority in 2022.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed shared plans for the upcoming year during the Friday (Dec. 17) Board of Governors meeting.

“I am very pleased to report that our recent efforts have paid off with significant gains in retention, persistence and graduation rates,” Reed said.

Noting the near completion of the academic transformation initiative’s first year, Reed told the Board that the next year will include a heightened focus on student success, which has taken on new significance in the face of changing demographics and challenging finances. 

Recent surveys have already assisted in making some changes such as providing more flexibility in scheduling to accommodate student work responsibilities.

Associate Provost Evan Widders, who followed Reed with specifics on the plans, also discussed the need to address a lack of consistency in academic advising which will become a primary focus of transformation in 2022.

“Student Success is not just the right thing to do,” Widders said. “Increasing the freshman retention rate has an immediate and substantial effect on the University budget. Most retained freshman remain at the institution through graduation, benefiting their lives, the state and the University as a whole.”

As the fall 2021 semester ends and the University prepares for spring 2022, President Gordon Gee told the Board he’s grateful to faculty, staff and students for recognizing the importance of COVID-19 vaccination and enabling the University to reach a better than 82% vaccination verification rate among students and nearly 92% among employees.

“I am also grateful for the patience and flexibility in coping with an ever-changing public health landscape,” Gee said. “While students enjoy their holiday break, our health sciences experts will be helping us prepare for the omicron variant and plan for a safe spring semester.”

Acknowledging more work is necessary to advance diversity and inclusion, Gee reflected on recent accomplishments, including a system-wide Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, which helped WVU earn the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for a sixth consecutive year.

“I am also thankful to our teams who are responding to the mental health challenges that students here and nationwide are facing in these turbulent times. And I am grateful to our students for continuing to advocate for mental health services ensuring that it remains a very high priority.”

The Board also approved:

The Board also approved property transfers from the University to the City of Morgantown or State necessary to re-align and reconfigure the intersection of Campus Drive and Beechurst Avenue as part of the larger Beechurst Avenue widening project by the West Virginia Department of Transportation.

The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for Feb. 18, 2022.



CONTACT: April Kaull

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