Other programs were told to reduce faculty as the university looks to make up for a $45M budget shortfall.


West Virginia University leaders have recommended discontinuing 32 of its majors at its Morgantown campus as the school is feverishly working to make up for a multi-million budget shortfall. 

The preliminary recommendations, released Friday afternoon, said 12 of those programs are undergraduate majors and 20 are graduate-level majors. Other programs were told to reduce their faculty size — 169 faculty jobs are on the line for cuts. 

Programs marked for discontinuation included: master’s and doctorate in Mathematics; master’s and doctorate in Higher Education Administration; master’s of Public Administration; master’s of fine arts in Creative Writing; and a bachelor’s in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources.

The Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics, which includes Spanish, Russian and Chinese studies, was marked to be completely dissolved.

“My colleagues and I are still in shock; it’s inconceivable that our state flagship, R1, land-grant university, the place where we’ve all built our homes, careers and lives is completely eliminating the teaching of languages,” said Lisa Di Bartolomeo, a teaching professor of Russian Studies. 

The university is also reviewing plans to eliminate the language requirement for all majors. “Eliminating language instruction will close avenues of opportunity, career advancement, and personal fulfillment for current and future WVU students,” she added.

The cuts, if approved, will affect 147 undergraduate and 287 graduate students, which the university noted was less than 2% of total student enrollment. 

The pending program and faculty reductions were driven by a $45 million budget shortfall at WVU, which university leaders have said was largely attributed to student population decline. 

Maryanne Reed, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said the university needed to make mission-based decisions about which programs the university could no longer afford to offer.

“We approached the process holistically considering a variety of factors, including the potential for enrollment growth,” she said in a press release. “We had to be forward thinking and put personal biases aside. These preliminary recommendations will allow the University to invest in those areas that are more relevant to today’s student.”

Programs be discontinued, according to preliminary results:

  • MA Higher Education Administration
  • MA Multicategorical Special Education 
  • PhD Higher Education
  • EdD Higher Education Administration
  • MM Collaborative Piano
  • MM Composition
  • MM Jazz Pedagogy
  • MFA Acting
  • PhD Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences
  • MLS Legal Studies
  • MPA Public Administration
  • MS Mathematics
  • PhD Mathematics
  • MFA Creative Writing
  • MS Energy Environments
  • PhD Resource Management
  • BSR Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources
  • BS Environmental and Community Planning
  • BSLA Landscape Architecture
  • MSLA Landscape Architecture
  • BA Agribusiness Management — This program will be discontinued and merged with the BS in Environmental and Natural Resource Economics resulting in a single new program and major.
  • BS Environmental and Energy Resource Management This program will be discontinued and merge with the BS in Energy Land Management resulting in a single new program and major. 
  • BS Environmental and Natural Resource Economics — This program will  be discontinued and merge with the BS in Agribusiness Management resulting in a single new program and major.

Additionally, several programs were marked for the development of a cooperative program, including:

  • BS Energy Land Management
  • BSF Forest Resource Management
  • BSF Wood Science and Technology

The university announced in July that 128 programs would be reviewed for possible discontinuance or reduction. 

The decisions regarding which programs to discontinue were based on student enrollment trends, enrollment in majors and departments, and department-level metrics including full-time faculty-to-student ratio and programs’ financial status. 

University leaders said they considered its R1 research contributions from graduate students and state priority programs in its decision, as well.

Faculty will have the opportunity to appeal the preliminary recommendations. Those decisions must be made by Aug. 18.

Di Bartolomeo said her department members were “working already on the appeal we’re allowed to bring.”

News of the decisions regarding some programs started circulating Thursday night on social media after faculty members were notified by their respective department leaders.

Del. Joey Garcia, D-Marion, graduated from WVU in 2005 with a major in history and a minor in Spanish.

“My experience with the foreign language faculty and students elevated and expanded my learning at WVU beyond books, tests and grades. I really hope any recommendation to discontinue this program will be reconsidered,” he said.

The university has already cut staff and raised tuition almost 3% in an effort to make up its budget deficit. University leaders have also pointed to a recent price hike in state health insurance premiums as a reason behind the financial crisis. WVU has received less funding from the state legislature, too.  

WVU President E. Gordon Gee announced Tuesday that he will step down from his role in 2025.

A group of faculty and campus employees started a group, West Virginia Campus Workers, in an effort to strongly and cohesively respond to the administration’s plan. Group members have said they had no warning about the funding shortfall and potential program cuts before the news went public in the spring and into the summer. 

More program mergers announced 

On Thursday, the university’s spokesperson announced the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design would join WVU Extension to create a “new WVU unit,” set to launch July 1, 2024. The programs already shared faculty. 

The merger is part of the university’s ongoing “Academic Transformation” to deal with the budget shortfall.

“Decisions about the new unit’s name and leadership will be made in the coming months,” the press release said.

The university has combined other programs over the last few years. The College of Education and Human Services and the College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences merged in 2021 to create the College of Applied Human Sciences. Plans to combine the College of Creative Arts and the Reed College of Media were announced earlier this summer. 

What’s next 

The Provost’s Office will hold two virtual appeal process support sessions in the coming weeks for deans, directors, chairs and faculty who would like to discuss the process.

An information session for students and families regarding the appeals process will be held Aug. 17.

** West Virginia Watch is a nonprofit media source. Articles are shared under creative commons license. Please visit https://westvirginiawatch.com/ for more independent Mountain State news coverage.

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