Here are the WVU academic programs up for elimination this week

The West Virginia University Board of Governors will vote on Friday about the future of dozens of academic programs and faculty jobs. The pending changes, which have fractured the campus, are in an effort to deal with a $45 million budget deficit

By: - September 14, 2023 6:00 am
A red brick building with a clock tower in the center sit behind a gold sign that says "home" with the "o" replaced with West Virginia University's Flying WV logo.

Woodburn Hall on the downtown campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Lexi Browning | West Virginia Watch)

West Virginia University’s Board of Governors will vote on Friday whether to eliminate dozens of majors and jobs as the university is trying to make up for a $45 million budget shortfall. 

The vote is expected to pass. 

The university emphasized this week, in “An Open Letter to the People of West Virginia,” that they are not facing a budget crisis, and WVU President E. Gordon Gee has pushed back on what he called “misrepresentations” about the university’s ongoing Academic Transformation. 

“The University must prioritize resources to those areas that can provide for growth,” he said. Gee will step down in 2025.

The budget deficit was driven by declining student enrollment, the COVID-19 pandemic and a recent rate hike to the state’s insurance program, according to university leaders.

The pending vote has fractured WVU’s campus, as faculty, facing job cuts, have said the decision-making process wasn’t accurate or fully-transparent. Faculty last week passed a symbolic vote of no confidence in Gee. 

University leaders already cut $7 million in staff earlier this year and merged several academic programs. 

Department leaders were permitted to appeal the original recommendations for program eliminations, and the swift process resulted in some changes, including a reversal to do away with the MFA in Creative Writing. 

Below are the programs that are up for elimination following the appeals process:

  • BA Chinese Studies
  • BA French
  • BA German Studies
  • BA Russian Studies
  • BA Spanish
  • MA Linguistics
  • PhD Resource Management
  • MS Mathematics
  • PhD Mathematics
  • MS Energy Environments
  • MLA Landscape Architecture
  • MLS Legal Studies
  • MPA Public Administration
  • BM Music Performance: Jazz Studies
  • MM Collaborative Piano
  • MM Composition
  • MM Jazz Pedagogy
  • DMA Collaborative Piano
  • DMA Composition
  • MA Higher Education Administration
  • EdD Higher Education Administration
  • PhD Higher Education
  • BA in Technical Art History
  • BSR in Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources
  • BSBSE Biometric Systems Engineering
  • PhD Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences
  • BS Agribusiness Management, BS Environmental and Energy Resource Management and BS Environmental and Natural Resource Economics will be discontinued and combined with other programs. 

The university is expected to lose 135 faculty positions. 

Departments that proposed to lose faculty positions include:

  • Department of English
  • College of Creative Arts
  • Department of Communication Studies
  • School of Education
  • Division of Plant and Soil Sciences
  • Department of Chemistry
  • Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering
  • the School of Design and Community Development
  • Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
  • School of Theatre and Dance
  • School of Art and Design
  • Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
  • School of Public Health

The MLS Legal Studies and MPA Public Administration program would be reduced to zero faculty since both programs are up for elimination.

University leaders have said the overall cuts will affect less than 2% of students.

Faculty have argued that the pending changes will have widespread effects beyond those whose majors could be eliminated. 

“The university will continue to offer more than 300 majors, maintain a low tuition that is below the national average … and provide support resources to help students graduate with degrees that are rewarding and prepare them for the world that awaits,” Gee said. 

The Board of Governors, appointed by Gov. Jim Justice, will hear public comments Thursday ahead of its Friday vote.


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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.