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WVU Board of Governors moves forward with more opportunities of self-governance

By VICTORIA L. CANN

The Exponent Telegram

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — With the adoption of new state laws permitting more independence from the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia University Board of Governors started the process of enacting new policies and procedures.

During a special meeting Monday, the board unanimously approved the issuance of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, as well as changing the West Virginia University Board of Governors operating procedures and reconsitituting them as the West Virginia University Board of Governors bylaws.

“We are trying to make the institution more nimble, simple, so we can move quickly and transparently forward as an institution. What we have started to do with the first session on bylaws and rule-making rules, we have to have rules so we can start making rules,” said Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for legal, government and entrepreneurial engagement.

“Within the next several months, however long it takes, we will begin to look at each of the areas that govern our university and look at those rules to see where we need to start from scratch — where we need to update —so we can move forward in a proper manner with engagement of the board as we look at those policies.”

The revisions will be posted for 30 days for public comment starting on July 18 and ending Aug. 17. A summary of all comments and the university’s responses will be posted on the policy website 10 days prior to the Board taking final action Sept. 8, said Stephanie Taylor, general counsel.

“There are some that haven’t been touched for 10 or 25 years. With the new set of rules, we are putting in there proposed dates by which they have to be reviewed one way or another, just to confirm that they’re still up-to-date and accurate in terms of our current practices,” she said.

Cris DeBord, vice president for talent and culture, said this allows members to work directly with faculty and staff to develop policies and practices that align with the university’s needs. Hundreds of faculty and staff provided input when developing the rules through workshops and campus conversations.

Some of the changes to the rules include:

— Guiding principles for establishing a university classification and compensation program for classified and non-classified employees, as well as performance management.

— Outlining compensation elements to be considered for individual employee pay.

— Eliminating the point factor method for job change adjustments.

— Establishing new factors to evaluate when a job change adjustment is appropriate. This shifts focus on growing individual compensation on performance and away from re-evaluation of job descriptions of individuals.

— Requiring written performance evaluations, as well as training supervisors on how to prepare the evaluations.

— Setting detailed procedures on how the university should proceed should it need to go through a reduction in force.

“This has been a long time coming. We called it our Freedom Agenda, and it really is,” President Gordon Gee said. “I recognize that we have a lot of responsibility and a lot of opportunity. I appreciate that and the support of the board.”

This is something the board has been seeking for the last few years and now they have it, Gee said.

“We are moving forward. I appreciate that the faculty and staff were involved, that the staff is making certain that we’re following rules that make sense to everyone,” he said.

William Wilmoth, the new chairman of the board, spoke about the importance of a clear mission for the university and the board moving forward.

“Here at West Virginia University the mission is clearly understood on all of our campuses, classrooms, laboratories, offices and dormitories, that being to provide a world- class teaching experience and scholarship in writing for a student body that so richly deserves it,” he said.

“In this group, our mission is to do everything that we can to legally and any other way support the faculty and staff — world-class faculty and staff — at WVU who do so much for so little.”

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