While the academic year is coming to a close, work related to the University’s Academic Transformation efforts continues.
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.
Since President Gordon Gee’s December 2020 charge to the University to transform itself in response to the challenges facing higher education, the Office of the Provost has been working to identify ways to strengthen and evolve WVU’s academic enterprise so that its programs remain competitive and relevant to students, employers and the region.
“This idea of transforming our University is not new,” Reed said. “For the past several years, various non-academic units on campus, such as Dining Services and Talent and Culture, have been transforming the way they do business. President Gee’s charge in December addressed how the academic side of the University can help to position the institution for success – now and in the future.”
With guidance from EAB, a higher education consulting group, the Provost’s Office identified three areas of consideration:
Review the University’s entire academic portfolio to evaluate the “health” of its academic programs and to realign resources to support areas of growth and opportunity
Identify areas of possible academic restructuring or consolidation that may result in cost savings but also lead to new opportunities for multidisciplinary academic programs, research and impactful outreach
Identify instructional efficiencies and develop policies and practices that support student success, ensure consistency across faculty teaching assignments and make the best use of the University’s instructional capacity
In addition, three University-wide committees were created to address other areas of growth and opportunity, including a Student Success Committee, a Faculty Rewards and Recognition Committee and a Graduate Education Taskforce.
To date, the Provost’s team has been gathering and analyzing a significant amount of internal and external data related to each of these areas and has identified multiple areas of growth and opportunity, as well as other potential improvements and efficiencies. 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.
In February, the Provost convened an Academic Advisory Committee, comprised primarily of faculty members as well as some key recruitment and retention staff members, who met regularly with an analyst from EAB to review, respond to and provide feedback on the data-gathering and analysis process. The same information was also shared with the academic deans for their comment, input and guidance. Taking their feedback into account, the Provost’s Office has updated the timelines and processes for each of the three areas under review and developed a series of initial recommendations.
Starting this week, the Provost’s team will begin meeting with academic deans on WVU’s Downtown and Evansdale campuses to discuss initial findings from the program review and restructuring recommendations, ask for additional information and identify next steps. This will allow the academic units time through the summer and early fall to respond to the findings and provide feedback before the Provost’s Office makes final recommendations to the Board of Governors.
“We want to reassure our faculty and staff that no decisions will be made without an opportunity for input,” Reed said. “In fact, we absolutely need as much engagement as possible to ensure a brighter future for WVU. This will likely be a two-year process, so there will be plenty of opportunity to participate in the work moving forward.”
President Gee also acknowledged that there may be anxiety and uncertainty about the process but offered insight to assuage those fears.
“The goal of Academic Transformation is not to eliminate programs or jobs,” Gee said. “It is to transform the University to be highly relevant and positioned for future success. There is urgency around this effort, and I encourage everyone to seize this moment as an opportunity for self-reflection, reinvention and transformation.”
For additional details about WVU’s Academic Transformation efforts, visit the Provost’s Office website.
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