Dear WVU Faculty and Instructors:
I don’t have to remind you that April is both the cruelest and kindest month in the academic calendar. This is certainly a very busy time of final papers and exams, thesis and dissertation defenses, and many celebrations and recognition events leading up to May Commencement.
But this is also a wonderful time of year – one in which we celebrate our outstanding students, faculty and staff. This year, those celebrations are particularly poignant because they are in person, and we can see the smiles of pride and joy on our award recipients’ faces.
The days are getting longer, spring flowers are blooming, and there are beautiful days of blue skies and warmer weather. It feels as if we have turned the page on an incredibly challenging two years.
As we wind down the school year, my office continues to work on key priorities including Academic Transformation. We recently wrapped up our undergraduate and terminal master’s degree program portfolio review process with a review of programs in the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources. The results of the review are available on the Academic Transformation website.
Another major priority this year is transforming graduate education. It was the topic of last Thursday’s Campus Conversation— the fourth in our series focused on Academic Transformation. Presenters included WVU’s Vice President for Research Fred King, who set the stage by emphasizing the importance of the University’s R1 designation and the role that graduate students play in supporting our teaching, research and service missions.
Interim Associate Provost for Graduate Academic Affairs Richard Thomas gave an overview of the portfolio program review process for graduate programs. This review is utilizing a variety of data to help determine the success of all doctoral and non-terminal master’s degree programs at WVU. That data is currently being shared with the academic deans and will serve as the basis of a series of conversations over the spring and summer, continuing into the fall.
Our office is also conducting an analysis of tuition waiver usage across the University. Associate Provost for Academic Budget, Facilities and Strategic Initiatives Mark Gavin explained that the University invests around $45 million a year in tuition waivers, both those attached to graduate assistantships and merit waivers. This is a significant investment that needs to be tied to strategic priorities, including supporting, strengthening and enhancing graduate education at WVU.
Several stakeholder groups, including the Graduate Education Task Force, are providing feedback on this process, which will enable us to develop clear and transparent policies and practices regarding waiver usage, similar to those already adopted at other R1 universities.
If you missed last week’s conversation, we encourage you to watch the video that is accessible on our website.
The next Campus Conversation will be held on May 12 and will focus on efforts to incubate and support the creation of new multi-disciplinary and cross-college academic programs. This conversation will be offered as a virtual option only.
In these final weeks of spring semester, I want to thank you again for your incredible commitment to student learning. We are all weary and ready for some down time after two tough years during the COVID-19 pandemic, but you have been particularly challenged, serving on the front lines of teaching, advising and mentoring our students.
I hope that you are able to see in the end in sight — and to celebrate everything that our students and that you have accomplished these past two years. WVU’s leadership is grateful to — and for — you.