Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Aug. 6 letters to the editor – WVU Academic Transformation

EDITOR’S NOTE: LTTEs regarding WVU Academic Transformation

From now until Aug. 31, we will open letters to the editor to WVU alumni and current and former staff and faculty, including those who live out of state, for any who would like to comment on WVU’s Academic Transformation.  EMAIL submissions to opinion@dominionpost.com. MAIL submissions to:  The Dominion Post, 1251 Earl L. Core Road, Morgantown, WV 26505. INCLUDE your name, hometown and phone number for confirmation. Letters should not exceed 300 words. Out-of-state alumni should include their graduation year and degree. Staff/faculty should include their position and years of service. 

How will WVU changes impact future educators?

I began my teaching career with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies in 2013 as a graduate assistant. Throughout my three years teaching Intro to Women’s & Gender Studies, assisting with Women in Film and advising our undergraduate TAs, I found a home and a passion without which I would not be where I am now.

My supervisor, Brian Jara, created an atmosphere for GAs that allowed each of us to flourish as future educators. My fellow GAs were all deeply committed to their students and to one another. We ensured that not only our students, but the university as a whole grew to a fuller understanding of the world around them. We worked tirelessly to create an open, progressive and accepting university that took social justice issues seriously.

When I became a teacher at University High School upon graduating, I took with me the years of pedagogy I had honed while at WVU. I was better equipped to step into my first classroom post-graduation because of the direct experience I had as a GA.

Most importantly, I was able to create an open and accepting environment for my high school students during a rather divisive period in our country’s history, specifically because of what I had learned with the center.

Seeing WVU’s academic transformation plan, I cannot help but wonder what will happen to this state’s passionate educators. Will they stay in the state after graduating? Will their experiences mold them to become the next generation of teachers we need? Or will the university inhibit their growth through these cost-cutting measures?

I fear that these cuts will have dire consequences to the thousands of future leaders this state deserves. West Virginia deserves better. Our students deserve better.

Brendan Muckian-Bates
B.A.s in history and religious studies (2012)
M.A. in history (2014)
M.A. in secondary education (2016)

WVU BOG seems to have made up its mind

West Virginians can rest assured that they needn’t worry that their flagship university has an “activist” Board of Governors. After a lengthy presentation of critical comments received from faculty, staff and the public about program reductions and reductions in force during the period of public comment, there was not a single comment or opinion offered by any members of the BOG.

Minds already made up? Uninterested? Bored? The single exchange about adjustments in the severance packages came from the faculty representative to the board, Stan Hileman.

Jim Rentch (retired)
Research assistant professor
Division of Forestry and Natural Resources (18 years)

‘Country roads’ lead me to dead ends  

In March 2023, E. Gordon Gee was pressured by the WVU Board of Governors to make steadfast financial changes to the university in the face of a $45 million dollar budget deficit.

What WVU eNews calls a “… repositioning of the entire WVU System …” any higher education professional can tell you is quite the opposite: The fat gets cut, and the meat remains. What is “fat” and what is “meat” is up to the powers that be, which is where the future of WVU seems to reach its critical tipping point.

What kind of student will be invited to come through WVU’s doors if there are no artists, no actors, no chemists, no mathematicians, no world travelers? What kind of school can WVU be with 47% of its academic programs put under a formal review process that overwhelmingly sees a loss of personnel?

Gee evokes the history of WVU in order to pave the way for a smooth transition, where he calls upon WVU’s community to effectively band together. How can a community band together when executive administrators’ salaries remain the same while quintessential programs are at risk of discontinuation?

There is no one answer that can reveal the fate of WVU; no Magic 8 ball, no third-party firm, no academic transformation process that can accurately paint a picture of what WVU will look like 10, 20 and 30 years down the road.

If WVU continues to come for its bottom line, it will continue to erode the morale of the university community, which is just as detrimental as a budget deficit. Will WVU “Go First” for its bottom line, or will it continue to uproot its working-class faculty and staff and disrupt the very fabric of the core values that WVU holds central to its mission and vision?

Shan Cawley
Masters of Education
Ph.D. student, higher education
Higher Education Student Association president