West Virginia Legislature, WVU News

Sens. Caputo, Oliverio issue statement on WVU Academic Transformation

MORGANTOWN – Sens. Mike Caputo, D-Marion, and Mike Oliverio, R-Monongalia, issued a joint statetment on Friday regarding WVU’s Academic Transformation process.

Caputo and Oliverio represent the state Senate 13th District, which spans the Mon-Marion I-79 corridor and includes WVU’s Morgantown campus.

They said, “We take our responsibility of representing the university very seriously, and we understand that many of our constituents are employees and students of the university. Politically, we don’t agree on everything, but both of us — just like you — have gold and blue running through our veins.

“First, we would like to acknowledge how difficult the Academic Transformation is for so many. Morgantown and the surrounding area are inextricably intertwined with WVU. We have family and friends who are alumni, faculty, staff, and students of the university.

“We must remember that the university’s decision-making process is not merely a numbers game for profitability,” they said. “This situation impacts real people and their families. It affects the very fibers of our community.”

The two senators expressed their appreciation for constituent comments on the issue and said they will keep listening to everyone, and keep monitoring the process.

“We know some of the decisions the university administration is making are not popular and have real costs associated with them. However, we also understand that the university needs to make some serious changes in order to remain the community stalwart it has been in the past.

“We are mindful that through our seats in the Senate,” they continued, “we have been given a unique opportunity by the state Constitution, tasked with approving the governor’s appointments to all boards and commissions.

“We vow to continue to thoroughly vet every new appointment to the WVU Board of Governors through the Senate’s confirmations process, and are comforted that one of us (Sen. Caputo) serves on the Confirmations Committee. We take this responsibility very seriously.”

The senators go on to list some of the state appropriations made for WVU, with their support and encouragement: $116 million for WVU; $55 million for WVU Medicine; $50 million for WVU Cancer Institute; $210 million for deferred maintenance for higher education buildings, funded for the first time since 2009.

They believe WVU will receive the lion’s share of the deferred maintenance money, based on enrollment, they said.

“We will continue to convey the perspectives and concerns shared with us to our colleagues in the Legislature and to those in senior leadership positions at West Virginia University” they said.

“West Virginia University is the flagship institution of our state. The university is an incredible partner for the state of West Virginia in seeking to help improve our state’s economy, image, and quality of life. We will continue to be strong supporters of both West Virginia University and our constituents who help make the 13th District such a special place to live, work, and raise a family.”