WVU News

WVU Faculty Senate gets Academic Transformation update, view of new university budget model

MORGANTOWN – WVU’s Faculty Senate got an update on the Academic Transformation process and an overview of the university’s new budget model that will take effect for Fiscal Year 2025, which starts July 1, 2024

Provost Maryanne Reed told the senators at their Monday meeting that they plan to roll out a more robust annual review process in late spring, to be implemented in fall 2024.

The process, she said, will integrate data about student demand and success at the program level with unit level costs and productivity. They will make that data available to everyone, and train deans and chairs how to use it to help make such decisions as reducing offerings and when to invest for growth.

“The goal, frankly, is that if we have a more assertive annual review process, that we can make changes in real time in response to trends, and so that we don’t have to make wholesale changes the way that we did this year.”

In January, Reed said, they will begin the program portfolio reviews for the Beckley and Keyser campuses, and they are already working with the campus leaders and faculty to plan for it. Because they have a small number of offerings and personnel, the plan is to make program improvements that increase student success and strengthen academic rigor and quality.

The program review of WVU Extension will be delayed until after the merger with Davis College, she said. Regarding that merger and the merger of the College of Creative Arts with the College of Media, in January they plan to roll out the new names of the units, how they will be structured and plans for their leadership.

Her office, she said, will be finishing up the review process for the academic support units within the next two weeks, with recommendations for Libraries and teaching and Learning Common.

Reed fielded a question about the revision of an answer on the Academic Transformation FAQ page. The faculty senator noted that the answer to a question about additional position cuts has been altered – where before it said no further cuts were planned it now says, “This process has taught us that we need to be continually improving and evolving. As I said, we are moving toward closing the gap, but it’s important to have a balanced budget, and we need to continue to plan for Fiscal Year 2025.”

Reed wasn’t aware of the alteration, but said they are still reviewing the FY25 budget. “We are getting close to be able to share that. … We have no intentions of doing a wholesale program review like we did this year. There may be some additional cuts, but they will be happening in a more targeted way,” not through the program review process.

New budget model

Associate Provost Mark Gavin provided an initial, broad overview of the new budget model, and said more details will unfold in the coming months.

The original plan was to have the new model go active for FY24 but they chose to delay it given what they’ve been going through, he said. The new model has been in the works for several years.

The current model, he explained, is called an incremental model. That means with the exception of some revenue sources, such as college tuition that goes to the colleges, and where the colleges pay their own expenses, everything else is collected and allocated centrally each year.

It can often be confusing about how the budget unfolds each year, he said. “It leaves us all with a little bit of uncertainty about what the true cost of operations are.”

The new model is called an incentive-based budget model. At its core are five elements:

One and two, direct revenues and expenses of the primary units (mostly the colleges) that generate WVU’s revenue;

Three, revenue allocation – with a move from collecting revenue centrally by the administration to moving the allocation out to the primary units;

Four, the primary units will then be responsible for paying the costs of the support units;

Five, the units will contribute to a central funding pool, called a subvention pool, to support colleges that don’t operate in the black and to provide an investment fund – a seed fund, not long term – to help leaders direct and fund university priorities.

In the area of revenue, Gavin said, all forms of tuition – undergraduate, graduate/professional and online – will be treated as one, and pushed out to the colleges on an 80/20 basis: 80% follows where the student is taking classes, 20% goes to the student’s college of major.

Revenue from scholarships, financial aid and student fees (other than course specific) will be allocated under the same formula.

For the various support units – academic, facilities, IT, research and so on – the budget model creates metrics for how the colleges will contribute to their operations. How much each college contributes depends on how much they need and use the support units.

Gavin fielded a question about cost containment. The budget model will incentivize the colleges to control their costs and operate in the black, but – the senator asked – what incentive is there for administration to keep its cost under control?

Gavin agreed that’s a good question and said the new model will contain a governance structure. There are details to work out and share later, but the governance structure will feature academic oversight and participation.

“It would be unfair to allow those administrative costs to develop without being checked by the larger university system,” he said. “Our governance model addresses that.” The budgets for support units will be vetted and scrutinized.

Email: dbeard@dominionpost.com