Administrative Feedback on Priority Issues
This page contains Faculty Senate questions asked and answered received from West Virginia University administration relating to the budget deficit, summer Academic Transformation, reduction in force (RIF), and associated decisions.
- Provost’s RIF site (including information on outplacement services and how to handle funding contracts): https://provost.wvu.edu/academic-transformation/departing-separating-resources
- Nathalie Singh-Corcoran, Coordinator of the Eberly Writing Studio, has generously offered to proofread, edit, and/or provide feedback on cover letters and CVs of faculty searching for new positions. You can reach Nathalie at email@example.com
- Emeritus Status: The retirement clause of BOG Rule 4.2 (Section 10.2) on emeritus status is being waived this year. We encourage all those eligible to apply.
- The Provost’s Office confirmed on 10/20/23 that non-returning faculty generally are not required to go through the annual review process, including submitting materials in Digital Measures/Watermark. We do remind faculty that Digital Measures/Watermark will transfer to many other institutions, so some non-returning faculty may still elect to enter information into that system.
Questions Awaiting Response
We have been told that three elements will be used to determine which specific faculty will be RIFd in units that must reduce faculty, three years of performance evaluations, seniority, and expertise. Can you provide detailed explanations of each of these criteria?
- What budget cuts have been given to each college for Academic Year 2023-2024?
- How much is the University spending on Clifton Strengths Training, and what would be the cost of pulling out of that contract?
- Request for organization charts for 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019, and 2023. The most recent one we have is from 2022.
The Faculty Senate leadership has secured commitments from upper administration to execute reviews and deliver individual reports including data, metrics, position/organizational decisions, and implementation timelines for the following areas by October 31, 2023:Office of the President
Office of the Provost, including ASUs and all other personnel
University Relations and Enrollment Management
Office of the General Counsel
The Provost has announced that reviews of Extension, WVU Kaiser, and WVU Beckley will be initiated in January 2024.
Questions with Responses
The links below navigate to each respective category.
What were the savings realized from the CPASS/CEHS merger
that resulted in the new CAHS?
Provost’s Office: The total immediate reductions included a net reduction of 1 dean, 2 associate dean stipends, 1 college recruiter, 1 director of communication, 1 web designer, 3 total in administrative assistant, business office and development office, 3 unfilled faculty positions, and 2 others for a total of $877,153.90.
There were additional retirements, resignations, non-renewals, and RIFs post-merger = $862,595.50.
The total savings is $1,739,749.40.
Which faculty who are notified of being RIFed are eligible
to request a due process hearing?
Only tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty in their critical year, and TAP/SAP faculty with multi-year contracts may request a due process hearing. However, any faculty member may utilize the WV Public Employees Grievance Procedure relative to grievable issues involving non-renewal or RIF (W. Va. Code §6C-2-1, et seq.)
Reduction in Force Slides - Presented by Stephanie Taylor at Faculty Senate on September 11, 2023.
- RIF Plans will be finalized October 1st through the 15th.
- If an individual meeting cannot be scheduled with a faculty member by October 16th, they may receive their RIF decision via e-mail for the purpose of expediency.
Will faculty who are non-renewed or RIFd be eligible to apply for emeritus status if they don’t retire. BOG 4.2, Section 10.2 appears to require retirement to apply.
Melissa Latimer: This year for programs with faculty reductions, we will process emeritus requests, granting exceptions of the retirement clause, on a case-by-case basis. We would be inclined to grant exceptions for fully promoted faculty with excellent performance histories, and for associate professors who have been here longer than 10 years, but not likely for assistant professors. Tracy Morris and Chris Staples are working with relevant unit chairs. We have the remainder of the academic year to process any request.
Will faculty who were notified of non-renewal in spring 2023 be
eligible for severance?
Stephanie Taylor: Severance is not being retroactively provided though limited term contracts were issued to provide at least 60-days’ notice.
It has been stated that cuts have been made in non-academic areas of the University for a few years. Can you provide a summary of those cuts?
Rob Aslop at 8/24/23 Campus Conversation:Since FY2016 we have made targeted reductions of spending in excess of $160 million.
FY2017 - $29 Million
FY2018: $20 Million
FY2019: $5 Million
FY2020: $15 Million
FY2021: $35 Million
FY2022: Maintained FY2021 Reductions
FY2023: Mid-Year in Excess of $15 Million
FY2024: $21 Million
There is a concern that
additional TAPs/SAPs/CAPs might be non-renewed in May 9, 2024 outside of the
formal program review process. The concern stems from a fear that all those who
need to be RIFd to reach financial goals won’t be but will instead not be
renewed creating a “hidden RIF”. It would be very helpful if you could respond
to the following questions: 1) Under what conditions other than cause (poor
performance) could a TAP/SAP/CAP be non-renewed in May 2024 who were not
informed of their position being eliminated in Oct. 2023? And 2) Are there
cases of non-renewal of these position types for reasons other than cause
happening in the past?
Stephanie Taylor: Employment of many teaching-track, service-track, research-track, clinical-track, instructor, and lecturer faculty positions is through a year-to-year contract. In simple terms, that contract only guarantees employment for one year at a time (subject to early termination for cause). If a TAP or SAP has a multiple year contract, that contract only guarantees employment until its end year (subject to early termination for cause or a RIF). At any time prior to the end of these contracts, the Dean or Chair could make the decision to not renew the contract for another year or period of time. That decision can be based upon any non-discriminatory reason. For example, such a decision could be based upon budgetary reductions, decreased enrollment in the program, or performance. That is not an exhaustive list. These types of faculty have had their contracts non-renewed for reasons other than cause in the past. In prior years, there are usually a handful of these types of faculty whose contracts are not renewed. Having said that, the intention is for as much notice as possible, hopefully in the October 2023 time-frame, to be given for anyone who will be identified for non-renewal at the end of this academic year.
What are the typical number of contract non-renewals are each year?
Stephanie Taylor replied with the following data:
Classified Staff: 2 (4%)
Non-Classified Staff / Research Corp: 36 (78%)
FE/AP – 0 (0%)
Faculty: 8 (17%)
Clinical – 4
Research – 1
Instructor – 0
TAP/SAP – 0
Lecturer – 1
Visiting – 2
Classified Staff – 19 (14%)
Non-Classified Staff / Research Corp – 77 (57%)
FE/AP – 1 (1%)
Faculty – 38 (28%)
Clinical – 11
Research – 7
Instructor – 1
TAP/SAP – 8
Lecturer – 9
Visiting – 2
Many faculty have commented on President Gee’s salary.
For more information, see this link
for the Chronicle of Higher Education’s just released 2022 survey
Faculty Senate requested that the Provost’s Office disseminate an Excel version of the unit/program data to ease working with the data. The Provost’s Office has declined to provide the data in this format.
Sharon Martin, George Zimmerman, and Joy Carr attended Faculty Senate on 7/10/23 to present on Recruitment and Retention initiatives. That presentation is available for review.
Faculty are concerned that “non-R1” research dollars are not
part of the data consideration for programs under review.
Provost Reed: Unit leaders were permitted to include this additional data in the self-studies if they thought it was pertinent to their units. Faculty can also submit information to this affect via this portal.
The list of programs for further review excluded all State Priority Programs. How are those programs determined?
Mark Gavin: State priority programs were identified in conjunction with the development of the recently implemented funding formula. Performance within these programs (e.g., degrees conferred) are differentially incentivized/rewarded. Institutions had the opportunity to influence the list, however the composition of the list was ultimately determined by the legislature. It is meant to incentivize degree production in areas that represent current or anticipated needs of the state by way of workforce development. It is our understanding that the list will be reviewed and revised where needed on a regular basis.
Note: More information can be found here. We have compiled a list of WVU-Identified State Priority Programs.
How many double majors are there at WVU?
Lou Slimak: In fall 2022 there were 19,187 primary degree and primary major students (this number should always be the same for obvious reasons). 250 students were in a double major. That's 1.3% of our undergraduate students.
Why was Reed College of Media not identified for review?
Maryanne Reed: The Reed College of Media was not identified for further review for a variety of reasons. Though the College has two majors with declining enrollment, it has a high retention rate, new program innovation (a new intercollegiate major in Game Design and Interactive Media which is growing quickly and a new major in Sport and Adventure Media), and it operates at positive net revenue. Overall, the data indicate that the College of Media is an overall healthy unit.
Lou Slimak: The Provost’s Office will provide a link to a Qualtrics form in which faculty can enter concerns or attach a document and submit to the Provost's Office.
How much is the University spending on RPK consultants? [Contracted to assist with Academic Transformation]
Maryanne Reed: We will be posting that contract and any associated invoices at transformation.wvu.edu.
Update: Contract has been posted.
For programs identified for reduction or discontinuation, is the program and associated faculty subject to the reduction in force considered a major or department?
Lou Slimak: Board of Governors Rule 2.2 defines a program as constituted by the degree designation, all it's constituent majors, a single major, a minor, a certificate program, or any other curricula.
So it could be particular degrees within a department, minors in a department, or an entire department?
Lou Slimak: Correct.
We would like to get more details about the budget shortfall in light of: FY22 Budget and April 10 Budget Q&A.
Rob Alsop: With respect to our debt portfolio,
*Senate Note: A more detailed summary of the debt portfolio is now available.
There is the belief that the Public-Private
Partnership projects that WVU is involved in have not been profitable and that
the occupancy rates of those dorms and apartments is low. Please provide
information about the financial status and occupancy rates of those properties.
Rob Alsop provided this document in response.
Some faculty have pointed to WVU’s debt as one
cause of our current budget situation. What is WVU’s current debt and what
projects have been funded via the issuance of debt? What is the leadership’s
approach to debt and how is the debt managed? Do any individuals hold any WVU
Rob Alsop: No individual people hold WVU debt. Rob provided this document in response.
WVU refinanced some debts in 2019-2020, reducing costs to the institution. Much of those savings went toward financing COVID expenses, especially those related to IT investments. West Virginia University is similar in amount of debt compared to peers. Looking forward regarding debt portfolio-related decisions, there is a need to transition to a new steam plant.
Are WVUIT and WVU Potomac State being evaluated since they appear expensive to operate?
Rob Alsop: WVU satellite campuses at Beckley and Kaiser have been running at a deficit. A review is underway to seek opportunities for greater efficiency.
Rob Alsop: The state only funds pay raises for employees who are funded by the state's general revenue fund. For WVU, that means we will get around $3 million from the state for salary adjustments. This $3 million figure is well short of the amount it would take to provide an across the board $2,300 pay raise for all of our employees.The money from the state will not provide moneys for a pay raise for everyone. We are working on the FY2024 budget, including the most appropriate strategies to assist in limiting the impact of the potential PEIA premium increases.
Can you clarify the amount of our budget shortfalls? We have seen different numbers published externally.
Rob Alsop: The numbers mentioned at the Campus Conversation are accurate. If we do not increase our market share, and given the enrollment cliff, that number will go from $45 million next year [FY2024] to $75 million by FY2028.
Regarding an information request on Auxiliary and Business Services budget and personnel.
Details received from Rob Alsop on June 9, 2023.
What were the cost effectiveness estimates leading to the decision of the withdrawal from the Academic Common Market? Did these projections turn out to be accurate? We are interested in the entire decision process to withdraw.
Rob Alsop: With respect to the academic common market (“ACM”), we note the following:
- The academic profile of the majority of ACM students was below average. We generally received students who were not accepted into the state’s flagship institution.
- The retention and graduation rates for ACM students was significantly lower across all majors. As an example - the retention of all ACM FTF students to the major for the Fall17 cohort was 72%. For many majors, 7 of 19, retention rates were below 50%. Across the colleges, persistence was low as the six-year graduation rate for the 2009 ACM cohort was 31%.
- WVU chose to eliminate ACM participation and in its place increase the level of university discounting for the highest achieving FTF students in all majors. Colleges could continue to stack other awards as well. The decision was an increase in the central merit awards to offset any enrollment loss. That did occur when we increased the levels for the Scholarship of Distinction in the year following the elimination of ACM. As for the expectations in terms of enrollment, it was focused on net tuition revenue at the time and not headcount.
- At the end of the day, like many schools which are eligible to participate in ACM, we chose not do so as we were working to establish scholarship leveraging strategy that strategically aligns college preparedness with discounting to enhance net tuition revenue and improve retention and graduation rates.
Are there plans to eliminate or sell some of the properties acquired or developed as public-private partnerships?
Has the administration of WVU considered taking a pay cut, or implementing a pay cut for those making above a certain threshold? [10% cut on those making $200,000 suggested]
E. Gordon Gee: We don't want a divide between faculty and staff. I think everyone earns the salaries that are appropriate for them. ...We do not have bloated salaries here compared to most places. We have one of the lowest administrator cadres in the country and we will keep it that way.
Rob Alsop: Taking a 10% pay cut would devastate morale across the institution, and we are not going to be requiring individuals to reduce the amount of their take home pay.
Rob Alsop: [Our buildings and properties are subject to leases and terms that prevent us from selling or offloading them.] Paraphrased from statement at Faculty Senate on May 8, 2023
If a faculty member decides to leave the
university midway through the academic year (at end of fall semester), are they
legally breaking the contract? Would WVU sue them? I image that
there are a lot of faculty who are applying for other jobs now, just as a back-up
in case they are laid off. Our new contract does not address this
Stephanie Taylor: If someone decides to find a new job, that is fine. WVU would definitely not sue them.
The language in the Board of Governors Reduction in Force rule is that the University MAY offer severance pay to faculty. Does this mean that some faculty may not receive severance pay?
Stephanie Taylor: We are planning to offer severance packages based on the detailed schedule presented to the Board of Governors.
Will faculty be provided access to startup funds that they are obligated to, particularly in the years moving forward?
Rob Alsop: It is our intent to do everything we can, and it is a priority as it relates to startup funds. ...while the present is going to be hard, we are working to get to a place where we are able to live up to our commitments.
Based on that, would you be willing to work with faculty on extending the time in which we may use our startup funds?
Maryanne Reed: We will look into it and do something about that.
Regarding a request for more detail on the review of Academic Support Units.
Mark Gavin provided a presentation with more detail at the June 5, 2023 meeting of Faculty Senate. Dr. Gavin noted that this review this process only includes those academic support units that report to the Office of the Provost. Final recommendations will be presented to the Board of Governors in late July, with academic support units being notified of decisions on August 1, 2023.
Update: Review currently on hold. Feedback presented to the Board of Governors delayed until September 15.
Regarding public comments on Board of Governors rule changes and potential retaliation.
Stephanie Taylor: I, nor anyone in my office, has ever retaliated against anyone for comment they have made or in any regard. . . .The comments are gathered in a chart and presented to the Board unedited. We do not edit anyone’s comments. Ten days before the Board will vote on the severance package or new rules . . . all the comments received will be publicly posted and we do have a determination-made column that responds to the comment. Those responses are in varying degrees of detail depending on the comment. We do redact the person’s name and email address from what is publicly posted.
Do the president, provost, and other senior administrators still use a helicopter and/or private jet? If so, what are the yearly costs and is this being considered as one of the line items for budget cuts?
Rob Alsop: The University does not own a plane. There is a chartering service that the University takes advantage of. The proposed line item for that budget in FY24 has been reduced over expected expenditures, and there won't be as much expense to the institution. Exact numbers can be provided if requested.
We have heard several times about reductions in administrative FTEs (full-time equivalents). The HEPC website has a personnel count on their human resources data portal which shows a drop in classified employees averaging $28,000 a year, and an addition of 1,000 non-classified employees averaging $85,000 per year. Why is that inconsistent with what we are being told?
Rob Alsop: Prior to 2014 there was a requirement in West Virginia that only 25% of our employees could be non-classified. Everybody else had to be classified. Usually, classified employees are designated as hourly employees, and non-classified as salaried. We had a number of individualsthat had to be designated as classified at the institution going forward for that. It caused a huge amount of problems, particularly in the IT space in terms of job families, in terms of job ladders, in terms of recruiting, moving forward with the institution. In 2014 or 2015, the legislature changed that. They said that moving forward, the difference for WVU is that classified employees have progressive discipline and they're not at-will. Non-classified are at-will. So we said that everybody who's currently a classified employee will continue to be a classified employee but, going forward under legislative policy, if you are an hourly employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act you'll be considered classified. If you are a salaried employee for the Fair Labor Standards Act, you will be considered to be non-classified. Because the mix of hourly and salaried employees was artificially skewed by this limit on the number of non-classified individuals that the legislature had declared, over time, a number of positions that had been classified were reposted as non-classified positions as people retired, not with a salary change or anything like that. There was an artificial distinction that prohibited us from labeling a salaried employee as a non-classified individual. That mix that you see at the Policy Commission in that report is purely a function of classification and had nothing to do with rate of pay.
If you have comments or concerns about this page, please contact the Faculty Senate Office at FacultySenateOffice@mail.wvu.edu