West Virginia University Cuts 28 Majors and 140 Faculty Positions Due to Budget Shortfall

(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete, File)

Public universities are under rising pressure due to cuts in state funding and rising costs, and at West Virginia University (WVU), a spending spree designed to attract more students ended in catastrophe.


In 2014, Gordon Gee, the president of WVU, introduced a plan to spend tens of millions of dollars to attract more students and increase enrollment from 33,000 to 40,000. The plan backfired spectacularly.

Enrollment fell to 27,454 in the 2022 term and fell further to 27,022 this year.

Now there’s a $45 million budget shortfall with no easy way to bridge the gap. So Gee and the board decided to cut the number of majors being offered as well as firing some faculty members.

At a meeting yesterday, the board voted to cut 28 majors and 140 faculty members.

Wall Street Journal:

The public flagship university will eliminate a Ph.D. in mathematics, master’s in public administration, most foreign-language instruction, graduate degrees in higher-education administration, and ceramics and sculpture degrees. Faculty cuts will include positions in its schools of law, mathematical and data science and public health, and in its chemistry and plant and soil-sciences programs.

At a packed meeting interrupted repeatedly by protesters’ shouts and chants Friday, the board agreed to adopt the cuts with minimal discussion and just a few minor adjustments. No change was approved unanimously.

WVU has completely eliminated its world languages majors and public administration majors. The language majors are superfluous, but the elimination of the public administration major is totally unnecessary. There are 338 majors, and the idea that they couldn’t find something more irrelevant — perhaps some diversity nonsense — to eliminate is absurd.


“The board did not take this process lightly. We know there are people and families affected by these changes,” Board Chair Taunja Willis Miller said after the votes. She said it was part of the board’s responsibility to prioritize resources, “including assessing and implementing cost efficiencies as well as ensuring we have the resources available to make investments in areas of potential growth.”

West Virginia is among a growing number of public universities facing financial stress brought on by a combination of a decadeslong spending spree, state funding cuts and enrollment pressures.

In the spring, West Virginia University administrators said the school faced a $45 million budget deficit for the 2024 fiscal year, which would grow to $75 million by 2028 without significant changes. They said they had already made administrative cuts in recent years, but that they now needed to dip into the academic operation.

“We can’t keep every program. We can’t do everything that we’ve been doing, because we’ve lived beyond our means,” Gee said at a faculty senate meeting earlier this week.

Isn’t it ironic that Gee is one of the primary architects of “living beyond our means”? He’s acting as if he wasn’t at least part of the problem.


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