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WVU launches plan to cut costs as funding shrinks

Vicki Smith, Associated Press

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) -- West Virginia University has tabled salary increases for the coming budget year and launched a two-year cost-cutting strategy as state and federal funding shrinks.

The Board of Governors approved a $951 million spending plan Thursday for the budget year starting July 1, along with a plan to absorb a $13.3 million loss in state funding and a nearly $5 million hit from federal budget cutbacks.

Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese said some other cost savings have already been identified, such as the elimination of Printing Services, but more will be needed each quarter starting in September.

Weese said the vice presidents of each division will have the latitude to decide where to make their short-term cuts, which could include reducing travel or holding vacant positions open.

Then, he said, WVU will need to make further cuts. Costs must be slashed not only for fiscal 2014, but also the following year.

Academic units will not have to cut spending as much as non-academic units. But Weese said vice presidents, deans and other senior leaders will all be asked to help identify as much as 10 percent in "long-term structural reallocations" and reductions for fiscal 2015.

A website (http://bit.ly/11khpkc) has been set up to solicit faculty and staff input.

At the board meeting, held at the WVU Institute of Technology campus in Montgomery, President Jim Clements said the leadership team must focus on WVU's core mission to remain financially sound and continue growing. That means investments in academic programs, scholarly research, and faculty recruiting and retention "remain a priority," he said.

As part of the budget planning, the board also approved tuition increases that will begin this fall. The board's student representative voted no.

Tuition for resident undergraduates will rise 6 percent, or $366 per year, while tuition for non-resident undergrads will rise 4 percent, or $764 per year.

Graduate students will see similar percentage increases under the board's plan.

Undergraduate and graduate students in health sciences face fee increases ranging from 1.6 percent to 10 percent.

Resident students at WVU Tech and Potomac State in Keyser will pay about 4.5 percent more. Non-residents at Tech face a 4.5 percent increase.

Non-residents at Potomac State will pay 1.7 percent more.

Housing costs will rise 4.5 percent on all campuses.

WVU has said it would also raise scholarship funding to try to help keep college within financial reach of many families.

Even with the latest increases, WVU says it remains among the nation's least expensive flagship state universities. WVU's in-state tuition remains second-lowest among peers including Virginia Tech, Kentucky and Georgia.

The board also elected new leaders for the coming year. James W. Dailey will replace Drew Payne as chairman, while Thomas Flaherty will serve as vice chairman.

Payne will continue to serve on the board through 2014.

The next meeting is Sept. 27 in Morgantown.