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WVU Board of Governors votes unanimously to extend Gordon Gee’s contract

President Gee to continue academic transformation at the university

By Autumn Shelton, WV Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – As West Virginia University (WVU) continues its academic transformation due to budget shortfalls, Gordon Gee will remain in his role as president. 

On July 31, the WVU Board of Governors unanimously voted to extend Gee’s contract until June 30, 2025, with no increase in his base salary. 

Gordon Gee

“We considered a variety of factors in our evaluation, which is really an ongoing process that spans his tenure,” said Taunja Willis-Miller, chair of the WVU Board of Governors. 

“We noted that the University also is in a state of transformation,” Willis-Miller continued. “We must continue to act boldly. President Gee has shown time and time again he’s not afraid to do the difficult work that’s required.” 

Following Willis-Miller’s announcement, Gee responded, “I look forward to continuing the important work that we are doing.” 

“The challenges we are facing are not unique to us, but the manner in which we choose to meet the challenge is, I think, very much unique to us. We are doing it in a much different way,” Gee said, adding that he expects both “criticism and acclamation” as the transformation continues.

However, he said, the intent is to make the process as transparent and as data based as possible. 

In other business, the Board voted to approve several amendments that clarify Rules 3.9 and 4.7, both relating to a reduction in force (RIF), and the faculty and classified staff severance package. 

Amendments to Rule 3.9 discussed during the meeting include: 

  • Clarifying legal requirements related to the RIF notice period. 
  • “Eliminating the requirement that severance packages be paid in installments” to allow for more flexibility in developing the plan. 
  • “Clarifying that voluntary reductions in FTE (Full-time equivalent) or appointment length do not trigger the provisions of this Rule.” This includes employees who agreed to voluntarily reduce their FTE earlier this year. 

Amendments to Rule 4.7 discussed during the meeting include: 

  • “Clarifying that faculty should be involved in the academic review process, which could lead to a RIF plan for that program, as opposed to the formulation of the actual RIF plan.” 
  • Elimination of implied obligation that the University will train faculty members to be qualified for other faculty positions. 
  • Clarifying that the RIF determination will be made based upon “performance, knowledge and qualifications and seniority, and will be made by the Dean Office’s and the Office of the Provost. 
  • “Clarifying that program reduction may include reducing tenured, tenured-track, or certain faculty positions with multi-year contracts.” 

Regarding the faculty and classified staff severance package, it was determined that teaching and service-track employees “should receive the same number of weeks in severance pay as tenured and tenure-track faculty members.” 

According to Rob Alsop, WVU’s vice president for strategic initiatives, eligible employees will receive 12 weeks of severance pay beginning on May 9, 2024. Employees will be notified of their pending termination on October 15, 2023.

Alsop added that classified staff could receive from four to 32 weeks of severance pay, “depending on notice period going forward.” 

The Board also agreed to review the possible severance pay inclusion of 12-month faculty members (librarians and clinical faculty) as more data becomes available. 

Mark Gavin, associate provost for strategic initiatives, then provided board members with an update on WVU’s academic transformation. 

Gavin stated that WVU’s goal should be to create an academic portfolio that includes “students demands, career opportunities and market trends that also serves our land-grant and research missions, while retaining our R-1 classification.” 

Doctoral programs and associated non-terminal master’s degree programs that have annual research expenditures of over $1 million are exempt from a formal review, as are new programs with three or fewer years of enrollment data and pathway and completion programs, Gavin explained.  

“Potomac State and WVU Tech programs and WVU Extension are not being reviewed at this time,” according to Gavin. 

Gavin added that numerous departments have already been slated for formal review including Mining Engineering, the School of Education, the School of Law, the School of Art and Design, the School of Music, Pharmacy, Public Health and more. 

Additionally, Gavin explained that 48% of WVU’s full-time faculty are within the departments that have been identified for formal review. 

For a complete list of programs identified for formal review, visit the Academic Transformation website at transformation.wvu.edu

The WVU Board of Governors will hold its next meeting on Aug. 22. 

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