More graduate programs at WVU face closure as faculty appeals wrap up

The Board of Governors will vote on the final program recommendations Sept. 15

By: - September 5, 2023 1:20 pm

Students walk across a pedestrian bridge above Beechurst Avenue in Morgantown on West Virginia University’s downtown campus. (Aidan Cornue | West Virginia University)

A handful of West Virginia University graduate programs, including a master’s in public administration, still face closure at the end of a swift faculty appeals process.

The university’s Office of the Provost announced its final recommendations on Tuesday following three appeals hearings.

After WVU leaders announced in early August that they recommended discontinuing 32 of its majors at its Morgantown campus, department leaders and faculty members were offered an appeal process, which they used to argue for their programs and jobs.

University leaders also recommended more than 150 faculty reductions, and they said the pending cuts were driven by a $45 million budget shortfall.

According to the university, programs that still face closure following this round of appeals include: PhD Resource Management; MLS Legal Studies and MPA Public Administration.

“Additional considerations included that there is no dedicated faculty leadership for MLS Legal Studies and, while the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences unit presented a plan to develop the MPA Public Administration as an online degree, the online market is already dominated by large, national online institutions,” a university press release said. 

Additionally, three other majors will be discontinued and merged to create new cooperative programs by early 2024 in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design: BS Agribusiness Management; BS Environmental and Energy Resource Management; and BS Environmental and Natural Resource Economics will be discontinued and merged with the BS Agribusiness Management.

Other program appeals over the last few weeks were met with mixed results, with some programs, like the MFA in Creative Writing, successfully reversing a prior decision that would have cut the highly-touted program. The World Languages Department, which had been recommended to be completely discontinued, is now recommended to move forward with just Spanish and Chinese courses. 

The Department of Mathematics is still recommended to lose its masters and doctorate programs following an unsuccessful appeal. 

University President E. Gordon Gee, who said he will step down in 2025, said the financial deficit was largely driven by declining student enrollment. 

For the second time in his tenure, Gee is facing a possible vote of no confidence from faculty on Wednesday. They argued Gee has not clearly communicated how the proposed programs and jobs cuts would address the overall financial problems.

The Board of Governors will vote on the final program recommendations Sept. 15.


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Amelia Ferrell Knisely
Amelia Ferrell Knisely

Amelia is an investigative reporter for West Virginia Watch. Her coverage regularly focuses on poverty, child welfare, social services and government.