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West Virginia University reviews academic programs amid budget shortfall

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia University announced Monday nearly half of its academic programs are under evaluation as it looks for ways to trim amid a $45 million budget shortfall.

Among the departments being reviewed are law, engineering and mineral resources, education, art, music, agriculture, English, math, communications, chemistry, pharmacy and public health. The departments were identified in part through enrollment trends since 2018. The university said in a statement the goal of the review is to align its academic programs with student demand, career opportunity and market trends while ensuring an efficient delivery of its offerings.

Some programs are exempt from the review along with its Potomac State and WVU Tech campuses and the WVU Extension Service, the university said.

Preliminary recommendations will be made to individual colleges and departments by Aug. 11 and appeals will be heard starting later that month. The WVU Board of Governors is scheduled to make final recommendations Sept. 15. Staff and faculty reduction letters will be sent in mid-October, according to the university.

Last month, the Board of Governors approved an estimated $1.2 billion budget for fiscal year 2024 that includes $7 million in staff cuts, or around 132 positions, including 38 faculty members. The board moved forward with slashing 12 graduate and doctorate programs and approved a tuition increase of just under 3%.

President E. Gordon Gee and other top university officials have said the shortfall, which officials say could rise to $75 million in five years, is largely a result of enrollment declines. The student population at West Virginia University has declined 10% since 2015.

Gee also has cited the factors of inflation stress and increases to premiums the school is required to pay for the state’s government employees’ health insurance program, PEIA, passed by the state Legislature earlier this year.

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