West Virginia University’s Board of Governors on Friday (Sept. 10) approved an average salary increase package of 3 percent for faculty, staff and non-classified employees on the Morgantown campus and authorized seven capital improvement projects totaling $103 million, contingent on funding availability from the issuance of revenue bonds.
The average 3 percent salary improvement package will go into effect Oct. 1 for the main campus; a 2 percent increase will go into effect at WVU Parkersburg and Potomac State College of WVU, according to Provost Gerald Lang. WVU Institute of Technology employees will not receive raises this year as the campus works to grow enrollment.
WVU’s last salary increase was in October 2002.
“Salary increases are essential to retaining high-quality faculty and staff and maintaining and growing academic excellence and innovation,” Lang stressed.
Faculty and non-classified staff increases on all campuses will be based on employee performance assessments, while the distribution formula for classified staff increases will be dependent on further direction from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Lang noted.
The board’s approval of the capital projects paves the way for the following improvements, consisting primarily of renovations and maintenance projects:
Construction is scheduled to start next spring and summer on the Ag-Sciences, Allen Hall, downtown infrastructure and student housing projects, with work on the remaining projects commencing in 2006.
Primary funding for these projects will come from revenue bonds to be issued, grants, central funds and auxiliary funds, plus a share of the recent bond sale by the Higher Education Policy Commission. Repayment of the bond debt will be possible through enrollment growth and excess lottery proceeds.
“The recruitment and retention of quality students and faculty depends, to a great extent, on the quality of the facilities here,” said Vice President for Administration, Finance and Human Resources Gary Rogers in presenting the plan to the board.
“So even in a time of severe cuts to our state budget, WVU believes that finding a way to expand and improve our facilities is both fiscally responsible and academically crucial,” he added.
Other Capital Projects
Also at the meeting, the panel approved the purchase of Summit Hall and adjacent land for $5.5 million to help ease the University-owned housing shortage and address increasing enrollment trends.
The board also authorized completing the transaction with the WVU Foundation to purchase the St. Francis property for $11 million. The Foundation purchased the property in July 2003 with the intention of selling it to WVU when financing became available. Acquisition of that property will allow the possible relocation of the intramural recreation fields from the Medical Center Hill to the playing fields of the St. Francis property and will pave the way for potential occupant planning for the school building and parking spaces once the new St. Francis is completed in fall 2005.
Regarding the Health Sciences campus, a boundary adjustment near the WVU Hospitals to an existing lease was approved by the board to allow for expanding clinical operations, and the panel awarded a $4.79 million contract to W. Harley Miller Contractors Inc. of Martinsburg to construct a new, two-story Eastern Division Clinical Campus. The federal funding for the Eastern Panhandle project was secured by Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va.
Strategic Planning Takes Shape
The first phase of a strategic plan for the institution through 2010 was approved by the board. This phase, an environmental assessment and fiscal analysis of the budget of the institution, has been under development for six months. WVU President David C. Hardesty will appoint a Planning and Assessment Committee to articulate a strategic academic direction for the University to be presented to the board in spring 2005. The committee will be co-chaired by Dr. Lang and Dr. Lawrence Hornak, Faculty Senate chair. Similar committees will be appointed on each regional campus.
“In the end, the hope is that we have a much stronger university, committed to excellence in teaching and learning, research and discovery, and service through engagement,” Hardesty said of the planning process.
Bracing for More Cuts
Rogers informed the board that colleges and universities have again been told to brace themselves for more budget cuts – this time in the range of 5-6 percent, or roughly $8.4 million for the main campus alone. Over the past three years, cuts to the base budget have totaled $30.8 million, not including mandated increases in Public Employees Insurance Agency and Board of Risk and Insurance Management premiums, he noted.
Economic Development Grants Move Forward
The board also approved a resolution granting disbursement authority to WVU for the $10 million West Virginia Economic Development Authority grant awarded to the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute and the $2 million award for the State Fire Academy at Jackson’s Mill.
Research Park on the Move
The board approved the formal transfer of approximately 100 acres of land off Route 705 from the University to the WVU Research Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of WVU, for the development of the WVU Research Park. Certain parcels are being held in reserve, however, for expansion of the WVU Book Depository and future fire station for the City of Morgantown.
Vice President for Research and Economic Development John Weete said the Research Park will serve as a magnet for high-technology businesses interested in locating near a major research university.
Funding from external sources for all sponsored programs in fiscal year 2004 also hit the highest level in the University’s history – $140.3 million, Dr. Weete noted. That total represents the sixth consecutive year WVU has seen an increase in external source funding.
In the past two years, 84 invention disclosures have been filed by faculty in the WVU Office of Technology Transfer and during that time WVU has had 29 provisional and 17 full U.S. patents, 12 license agreements and formed two start-up companies, he added.
WVU’s new Business Incubator, established last December in the Chestnut Ridge Research Building, currently has three resident tenants and four “virtual” tenants, Weete reported. The incubator nurtures very early stage start-up companies by providing business services such as business plan development and marketing assistance.
Weete also laid out the 2004-2010 Strategic Plan for WVU Research and Economic Development. Among the objectives: establish new and support existing high quality and innovative interdisciplinary research and other scholarly programs that generate new knowledge and offer technology development opportunities; attract high- quality students and increase the proportion of undergraduate students involved in research; enhance local, state and regional economic development; and improve and sustain WVU’s recognition as a major research institution.
Other Board Matters
New officers for the WVU Board of Governors this year are: Douglas J. Leech, chairman; T. Joseph Lopez, vice president; and Elizabeth Chilton, secretary.
New board members sworn in at Friday’s meeting include Robert Wells, Baltimore; Stephen Farmer, Charleston; and Jordan Workman, Madison, student representative.
Two new committees – Community and Technical Colleges/Regional Campuses and Health Sciences – were formed, bringing the board’s committee structure from six to eight.
Those respective chairs are: Academic Affairs, Steve Goodwin; Business Affairs, Parry Petroplus; Health Sciences, Joe Lopez; University Relations, Leech; Student Affairs, Vaughn Kiger; CTC/Regionals, Betty Chilton; Executive, Leech; and Audit, Hank Barnette.
The next regularly scheduled meeting of the 17-member board is set for Nov. 5 in Morgantown.