Letters, Letters to the Editor, Opinion

Aug. 26 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. 

WVU needs to look at partnerships

In light of what is happening at West Virginia University, we may be seeing the end of higher education as we know it. Students are decreasing while the debt is increasing.

Recently, the university has chosen to eliminate programs and cut faculty, specifically in areas such as education, world languages, theater and the arts. The local economy will be tremendously affected by the reduction and downsizing of the university.

The crisis at WVU didn’t happen overnight. It began years ago, when enrollment in classes began to fall. In fact, one of the co-writers of this article was told to not teach classes with fewer than 10 students, and WVU said everything was going to be OK. But it wasn’t. A few years later, the pandemic hit and everything changed. Classes were taught on Zoom or they weren’t taught at all.

The new thinking now at WVU is to eliminate so-called non-relevant courses and majors. We need to meet the interests of the students.

But why? Couldn’t we look at expanding programs at WVU by partnering or cooperating with other universities? We could offer our mobile courses throughout the U.S. and other countries. Higher education partnerships and acquisitions have doubled in the past 10 years. Partnerships are based on growth, not decline.

Lucie Lapovsky, writing in Forbes magazine, suggested higher education institutions need to widen their missions and “stray far outside their initial lanes. Institutions need to partner with third-party providers, usually using revenue-sharing agreements. Among the cost-saving initiatives,” Lapovsky also stated, “with the greatest potential will be collaborative activities among institutions with new partners, public and private, even including mergers, in some cases, as well as the de-siloing of institutions.”

More so, WVU should think about expanding nationally and internationally in courses and programs.

Finally, we need to look for ways to maintain a holistic mindset in our debates on what belongs and does not belong in West Virginia University’s curriculum.

Ron Iannnone
Professor Emeritus, College of Applied Human Sciences (1965-2005)
Patrick Iannone
B.S. in journalism (1987)

WVU admin should undergo third-party audit

I believe that a third party should do an audit and oversight committee at WVU. Everybody would be held accountable, especially the WVU Board of Governors and the university president.

I firmly believe making all of these cuts that impact the education, faculty, staff and students will make minimal differences. I’m sure all the money that ends up getting saved will go towards the BOG for “saving the school” — but I digress. We need an audit and overhaul committee that may cost more now, but would lead to excellent planning in the future.

I am upset because Gordon Gee not only received an extension, but no decrease in salary! There have been no BOG members impacted financially.

Meanwhile, every single faculty member I’ve talked to either is afraid of getting fired or has to fire somebody. If they aren’t afraid of being fired, they are afraid of teaching additional classes, losing resources (such as free printing, which has already been taken), faculty changes, what will happen next and if this will happen again.

Several of the undergraduates seem oblivious and rightfully so. However, a good bit of students have focused on these issues more than partying. If you’ve lived in Morgantown, you know that’s a huge deal.

Honestly, campus morale is miserable. I’m watching two professors who have mentored me begin looking for other jobs; another three professors have had issues accessing their funds; and most conversations revolve around the challenges WVU is facing.

Then on top of these challenges, eCampus/BlackBoard has taken a massive dump. Professors can’t get a bunch of their material to upload. So on top of managing new students, school-is-back meetings, the BOG and WVU challenges, professors now have to basically upload their entire class to the internet again.

Andrew MacKenzie
B.S. wildlife and fisheries resources (2021)
M.S. wildlife and fisheries (2024)

Unheard of VP retiring not same as faculty RIFs

I served West Virginia University for 34 years. I held department and college administrative positions for 14 years. If there was a department or administrative unit of “Talent and Culture,” I never heard of it.

So now the person who has served as head of that unit is retiring and the news goes out repeatedly about how the administration at WVU — the same administration that is planning to make the obscenest set of cuts to the university curriculum that anyone has heard of or can imagine — is participating in the agony dumped on everyone else there by not rehiring for this one vacancy expected in a unit most people did not know existed heretofore.

But I am fairly certain there will continue to be talent and culture on the university campus even if there is not a czar in charge of it, and even if the attempt to curtail it in languages, in creative writing, in music and in math, to name but a few, should fail.

However, I am not so sure our university will maintain accreditation as a university of significance without any kind of language department and no higher degrees in math, among other things. Perhaps we could discuss these things forthrightly and stop pretending to be biting bullets in Stewart Hall.

Patrick Conner
Professor Emeritus, English