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Academic Transformation at WVU

Rethinking Academics for the Future

Higher education is at a crossroads, which was apparent even before the COVID-19 pandemic upended our traditional ways of providing instruction. With a declining high school population, limited instructional support and growing skepticism in the public about the value of a college degree, higher education is facing an existential crisis. In such an environment, universities like ours must restate our relevance to current and future students and their families, stake our claim as a leader in innovative and purposeful research, and be ready and willing to adapt to an ever-changing landscape.

During this time of disruption and opportunity, West Virginia University must adopt a future-focused approach to succeed now and into the future. We must anticipate trends in enrollment and be equipped to address evolving work force needs. We must take advantage of our unique position as our state’s leading land-grant institution to drive progress and prosperity in the region and provide a learning lab for our students to solve real-world problems impacting West Virginia and the world.

To meet the future head on, we must align our resources to support and invest in areas of growth and opportunity and identify areas where we can have greater impact and be more effective. While the crisis facing higher education is not as immediate as COVID-19, without an intervention, its impact will be felt for years to come.

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The Charge

In December 2020, President Gordon Gee issued a charge to transform West Virginia University.

“Post-pandemic, our University must come out stronger and smarter than we were when we were heading into the pandemic. The reality is we need to improve quality while we decrease costs. We need to differentiate ourselves in the marketplace and make WVU a destination institution.”

President Gee portrait

President E. Gordon Gee, December 18, 2020

Read the full story on WVU Today

The Response

In response to President Gee’s charge to transform the academic enterprise, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed has highlighted the need to prepare students for both the jobs of today and careers of tomorrow by growing and creating new degree programs that are rigorous and relevant, renewing the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, strengthening WVU’s R1 position and enhancing the University’s national reputation by identifying and investing in key academic areas that set the institution apart.

In partnership with the Education Advisory Board (EAB), the Office of the Provost has outlined several overarching goals and begun to gather and analyze data in three priority areas.

Goals for Academic Transformation

  • Provide a rigorous and relevant education
  • Create a diverse and inclusive learning environment
  • Increase enrollment and improve student success
  • Strengthen and improve our R1 position
  • Enhance our reputation as a modern land-grant institution
  • Identify areas for growth and investment
  • Identify instructional and academic efficiencies

Our Priorities

Priority 1

Determine the viability of academic programs in the current portfolio

WVU must realign its academic portfolio to emphasize undergraduate and graduate programs that are responsive to student and market needs.

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Priority 2

Identify opportunities for academic restructuring

WVU must identify opportunities to merge or consolidate academic units and programs to eliminate redundancies and create dynamic new programming that will attract and retain high-performing students.

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Priority 3

Identify instructional improvements and efficiencies

WVU must develop policies and practices that help support students’ success and degree progress and that make best use of our instructional capacity.

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Additional & Ongoing Work

Student Success Committee

WVU must improve student retention, persistence and graduation rates.

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Faculty Rewards and Recognition Committee

WVU must incentivize faculty to be engaged, productive and collaborative and to contribute to the University’s mission.

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Graduate Education Taskforce

WVU must support graduate programs that are impactful and that strengthen and improve our R1 position.

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our process

December 2020 - present

Gather and Analyze Data

Since December 2020, the Provost’s Office has been gathering and analyzing data related to the three priorities. Such data includes an analysis of enrollment numbers and trends, student success markers, research productivity and career opportunities for our graduates. These efforts are focused initially on WVU’s Downtown and Evansdale campuses and will extend to regional campuses in the future. WVU Health Sciences is leading its own transformation process, although HSC faculty and leadership will participate in helping to identify shared areas of growth and opportunity.

Engage Stakeholders

Based on internal and external data, the Provost’s Office will present a series of reports and recommendations to stakeholders. The following groups have been identified to date. Additional groups, including students, will be engaged as the process unfolds.

Academic Advisory Council

Comprised primarily of faculty members as well as some key recruitment and retention staff members. Members were identified in partnership with Faculty Senate leadership and academic deans. The group will meet with EAB analyst David Attis on a bi-weekly basis to review, respond to and provide feedback on the data and analyses generated by the Provost’s Office.

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Deans Committee

The Provost’s Office will continue to meet regularly with academic deans and campus presidents to share data and analyses. Feedback from this group, in addition to the Advisory Committee, will help shape final recommendations.

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Units and Related Constituents

The Provost’s Office will engage with unit leaders and related constituencies to discuss findings from initial data gathering around the three priorities and will ask for additional data to help determine next steps. Academic Transformation will continue to be an iterative process over the next one to two years.

Prioritize Action Steps

Based on feedback from the stakeholder committees and ongoing discussions with academic unit leadership and constituents, the Provost’s Office will create and revise a prioritized list of action steps to move the Academic Transformation process forward. With input from key leadership at WVU, the Provost’s Office will develop final recommendations for implementation. This will continue to be an iterative process over the next one to two years, with final recommendations being presented as decisions are finalized.

Present Recommendations

The Provost’s Office will provide a first set of recommendations to the Board of Governors at the June 25, 2021, meeting:

  • Academic Transformation Program Review process and timeline update
  • Regular five-year BOG Program Review recommendations
  • Overview of all programs discontinued through past processes
  • Gap analysis and programs identified to grow or create
  • Academic mergers and restructuring recommendations
  • Instructional efficiencies
  • Results of advising audit
  • Faculty rewards and recognition update and implementation timeline
  • Student success initiatives and implementation timeline
  • Non-terminal master’s and PhD program review process update

Interview With The Provost

Provost Reed Outlines Ongoing Process

Watch this Inside WVU Today video as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed talks about the initiative, including work completed thus far, as well as a timeline of next steps in the process.

Watch on YouTube