West Virginia University’s governing board voted Friday to slash 12 graduate and doctorate programs, including $7 million in personnel cuts. About 132 positions—38 of them faculty—will be eliminated, according to the Associated Press.
The vote is the result of a master’s and Ph.D. program evaluation process that began in 2021, for which the university said it used data on enrollments, graduation rates and employment to determine “programs of concern.” The affected programs include graduate studies tracks in finance, instructional design, technology and education and a doctoral accounting program.
The cuts are the first of many anticipated to take place over the next two years, which are expected to include undergraduate academic offerings; in March, President E. Gordon Gee announced a reduction in force to deal with precipitous enrollment declines and diminished state support. Last week, faculty released an open letter expressing anxiety about the cuts and distrust in the university’s process of determining program value.
“This process is obviously challenging and at times painful for the university community. It is, however, necessary,” Gee said at a meeting announcing the cuts Friday.
WVU’s enrollment has fallen by 10 percent since 2015, far more than the national average, while state funding for higher ed has dropped by 25 percent in the last decade. The university is currently facing a $45 million budget shortfall, which is projected to balloon to $75 million by 2028 without more cost-cutting measures.
The board also approved a tuition increase of roughly 3 percent.