Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
Welcome back from Spring Break! I hope you were able to experience some downtime last week and are rested and ready for the final weeks of the spring semester and school year.
Before the break, on March 10, the Provost’s Office hosted another Campus Conversationfocused on Academic Transformation. This conversation offered a preview of work being done to review and redesign the University’s budget model.
Rob Alsop, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives, and Lisa Sharpe, Finance Program Manager for the WVU Modernization Program, presented on this topic.
Rob Alsop explained how the current “incremental” budget model works, in which academic units, for the most part, receive the same Central allocation they received the previous year. The current model does not include incentives to grow new enrollments or increase student success outcomes, such as retention or graduation rates. The University faces an imperative to deploy our resources strategically since tuition has become a major revenue driver while state funding has decreased over the years.
Lisa Sharpe shared how the budget redesign process will work and the proposed timeline. The University is partnering with the Huron Consulting Group, which has significant experience working with universities on both ERP modernization and higher education budget redesigns.
Sharpe explained this will be a highly iterative process, in which Huron will be seeking and responding to input from leaders and stakeholders across WVU’s campuses. While there are several models of higher education budget models currently in use, Sharpe says that WVU’s model will be unique to the institution, playing to our strengths and organizational culture.
A positive outcome of this process should be greater transparency on how revenues are generated, how monies are expended, and how and why funding decisions are made. This will enable our academic units to better strategize and plan for the future. It will also contribute to Academic Transformationby incentivizing our academic units to implement efficiencies and identify and pursue opportunities for growth and differentiation.
We are in the early stages of the budget redesign process, so we don’t know exactly what the final model will look like. But we felt it was important to inform the campus community that we are engaged in this effort and the reasons why we are doing it. It is likely we will have another Campus Conversation in the future to reveal the model redesign and explain how it will work.
Budget conversations are never easy. And spending time understanding the finances of the institution may not seem relevant to your day-to-day professional life. But it’s important to be aware of the financial challenges and opportunities we face as an institution, which will better equip you to address these issues in your own academic unit.
If you missed attending the Campus Conversation in real-time, I urge you to watch the recording, ask questions of your academic leaders, and participate, wherever possible, in efforts that will help to strengthen our University — now and for the future.
Also, mark your calendars for our next Academic Transformation Campus Conversationon April 14 at 11 a.m., which will focus on efforts to transform graduate education at WVU.
As always, I thank you for your hard work, focus on excellence and dedication to our students’ learning. Good luck in the final push toward May Commencement!