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New academic programs, updates to presidential search and campus carry highlight WVU BOG meeting

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Several new academic programs will help West Virginia University students meet growing demand in areas such as engineering, supply chain management, forensics and health care.

The WVU Board of Governors approved a first-of-its-kind online graduate engineering program Friday (April 12) during its regular meeting. The new Master of Science in Midstream Petroleum Engineering degree will reside in the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. The novel approach will ensure graduates are not only well-versed in their chosen field, but also possess the critical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills needed to succeed in today’s competitive job market.

A new bachelor’s degree in biology in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences aims to prepare students for careers as medical doctors, dentists and physician’s assistants.

The John Chambers College of Business and Economics will launch a second supply chain-focused degree this fall with a heavier STEM focus with more statistics and calculus integrated into the curriculum. The expanded option is designed to attract more students to the supply chain major.

Meanwhile, WVU Institute of Technology is capitalizing on its chemistry facilities to create a new bachelor’s degree in the high-demand field of chemical forensics.

“We are making investments and building on our strengths to help our current and future students leave WVU with the knowledge and skills necessary to be competitive in a fast-changing marketplace,” Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed.

The program review process for WVU Tech and WVU Potomac State College continues and preliminary recommendations for both campuses were announced Friday. Recommendations are open to the formal appeals process, with final recommendations anticipated in early May.

Campus carry

Looking ahead to summer, WVU, like all colleges and universities in the state, is preparing to implement the W.Va. Campus Self-Defense Act.

Passed by the West Virginia Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice in 2023, the Campus Self-Defense Act allows a person to carry a concealed pistol or revolver on the grounds of an institution of higher education, with some exceptions, if that person has a current and valid license to carry a concealed deadly weapon. The University must follow the law.

For several months, the Campus Safety Steering Group and a Campus Carry Sub-group with representatives from every corner of the University have reviewed the law, walked through buildings and facilities, sought feedback from multiple stakeholders, and engaged with vendors on how to best protect our campus and community. 

BOG Rule 5.14, approved Friday, details what the law will look like in practice on WVU Campuses once the law goes into effect on July 1.

The University will host a virtual Campus Conversation next week to supplement scheduled in-person meetings focused on campus with faculty, staff, students and other University stakeholders.

“We have people on our campus who are opposed to the law, and we have folks who are supportive of the changes,” Travis Mollohan, associate vice president for government relations and collaboration, and chair of the Campus Carry Sub-Group, said. “Our job is to implement this law properly, protect our campus and our community, and respect law-abiding citizens who choose to carry starting on July 1.”

website has also been established with campus carry information and resources, including updated FAQs.

Presidential search

The search for the next WVU president is moving forward, according to Ad Hoc Governance Committee Chair Dr. Patrice Harris. She said the Presidential Search Committee will include representatives from a variety of stakeholder groups to be selected through a nomination process. The committee composition will include:

     ·      Board of Governors

     ·      Faculty

     ·      Staff

     ·      Students

     ·      Deans

     ·      WVU Athletics

     ·      WVU Medicine

     ·      WVU Foundation

     ·      WVU Alumni Association

     ·      Regional Campuses

     ·      At-Large Members

Over the next three weeks, the Ad Hoc Governance Committee will work with these groups to develop a slate of nominees and make a recommendation to the full Board for endorsement as noted in the timeline.

A special BOG meeting is planned in early May to finalize BOG Governance Rule 1.3 currently out for public comment. Later that month, the Committee hopes to complete the RFP and announce the selection of a presidential search firm to assist in the process. A robust series of listening sessions is anticipated through the summer.

“A key priority of this Board and a critical part of the process will be soliciting input from stakeholders,” Harris said. “To that end, we are planning on-campus and statewide listening sessions, virtual and in-person, with key stakeholders. In addition to these listening sessions, there will also be an online survey that will further facilitate input from an even broader audience.”

Those sessions will inform the search firm and the Presidential Selection Committee through the fall and winter with a goal of naming a new WVU president in spring 2025.

Other updates from the BOG meeting

The Board also approved Talent and Culture Rule 3.5 updating employee leave policies.

Staff Council Chair and BOG Classified Staff Representative Shirley Robinson shared the annual classified staff report and the annual Student Government Association report was presented by SGA President and BOG Student Representative Madison Santmyer.

“Under the Santmyer-Dozier administration, SGA bridged the gap this year between students, faculty and administrators through various initiatives focused in five main areas: student life, academic affairs, community engagement, sexual assault prevention and strategic initiatives,” Santmyer said. “We are proud of the commitment and hard work of our members to the student body during such a challenging year at WVU.”

View the April 12 BOG regular meeting agenda and meeting materials.

The next regular BOG meeting is scheduled for June 21.

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