PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Enrollment has increased at West Virginia University at Parkersburg going into the fall semester, a first in a number of years, college officials said Wednesday.
“As the fall semester is about to begin, we are experiencing our first uptick in enrollments in many years,” WVU-P President Fletcher Lamkin told the university Board of Governors Wednesday at its monthly meeting. “We’ve seen steady growth in new students, especially freshmen. Compared to last year’s results at this date, new student enrollments are up 26 percent and overall enrollments are ahead by about two percent. We have more new students arriving on campus this fall than at any time in the last three years.”
The university is also seeing more student retention with more students continuing on with their studies, Lamkin said.
“While encouraging news for the start of our 55th year at WVU-P, these results are by no means something on which to rest our laurels, but they do deserve some celebration as we begin to reverse a negative trend that dates back to 2010,” he said.
The board approved a 5 percent increase in tuition Wednesday after the Community and Technical College System of West Virginia last month denied its request for a 15 percent increase.
Lamkin said they already planned for is occurrence.
“Our budget will be balanced and supportive of our mission this coming year,” he said.
The school already made tough decisions in funding cuts ordered by the state, Lamkin said.
Because of that, it is not expecting to have to make any additional reductions in programs and personnel beyond those made at the end of the last fiscal year, Lamkin said.
“Our programs will be fully up and running, and we anticipate only better service to the community this year and in the years to come,” he said. “However, the reduced revenue does mean that we will make only modest gains in our deferred maintenance.”
The board also approved a number of major capital projects for Fiscal Year 2017, including the roof replacement at a wing which covers the library, bookstore and the business office. Alice Harris, vice president of finance and administration, said the estimated $440,000 cost would be paid from the sale last year of the Downtown Center.
The board approved to replace the sewer line to their main building.
Harris said the estimated $130,000 cost would also come from money from the sale of the Downtown Center.
The board approved to repave the upper portion of the West Parking Lot.
Harris said the estimated $200,000 cost would come from accumulated parking fees collected from students for such expenses. The work would not occur until the sewer line work is completed because it will be necessary to dig up part of the parking lot to do the sewer line project. Work is estimated to start sometime in the Spring.
The board approved the replacement of one of the school’s 48-year-old heating and air conditioning units on the fourth floor of the main building. This is one of four units that will eventually need to be replaced.
The board approved paying for the $475,000 project with a no-interest loan from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission or from college reserves. If the university gets the loan, they can maintain their reserves in the event one of the other HVAC units will need to be replaced sooner than later.
The university paid off in July the loan they took out to repair the roof for the Downtown Center and are use to making that payment. The university can continue to pay that amount on a new loan without any difficulty, officials said.
“I think it is important to replace that unit first,” Harris said. “It is the first domino in a number of dominos that will allow us to do other changes throughout the campus that we need to do.”
This replacement will allow the college to make the third floor of the building a more functional space for students and faculty, she said adding once the air handling system is in place they will be able to know where they can make other improvements and start on that work.
“(The maintenance crew) can start to build out some of the walls and drywall and paint and the kinds of things we need to do to restore that space to an area we can use,” Harris said.
Once that happens, they can move on to the second floor and move some programs to the third floor and allow them to move forward with plans to expand the Nursing Skills Lab.
“It really is a domino effect,” Harris said.