For Immediate Release
September 15th, 2023



Morgantown, WV – Today the West Virginia Board of Governors voted to approve the majority of the draconian cuts to academics proposed by administrators. While the agenda items focused on cuts to specific academic programs, the vote more broadly dismantles tenure protections, shared governance, and the integrity of the institution.

Large numbers of concerned students and faculty arrived at the meeting this morning to find that it had been scheduled in an extremely small room, and that administrators had arrived earlier in order to fill as many seats as possible before faculty, students, and staff could arrive. Quickly both the main meeting room and the overflow room next door were filled past capacity, even with WVU students opting to sit on the floor in front of the Board.

Those who attended the meeting were treated to a lengthy presentation from Associate Provost Mark Gavin, who listed in detail all of the proposed cuts, along with administrators’ constantly evolving post-hoc rationales for why the cuts needed to happen, their flawed data analysis carried out with nearly $1 million in external consulting services, and their dishonest insinuations about the financial and organizational value of the affected units. After this, Deans of various colleges and schools gave a series of wholly irrelevant and often lengthy speeches completely free of any specific details, plans, or rationales for the cuts being voted on.

In the end, attendees had to sit through about 2 hours of administrative propaganda before the actual vote took place. The votes split along clear lines: the 3 members of the Board who voted against the proposals were actually part of the university community (two faculty representatives and a student representative). The remaining members, largely an assortment of business executives and corporate lawyers appointed by Jim Justice, voted for all cuts (with one exception on one specific item). We thank the student and faculty representatives, who no doubt faced immense pressure to vote with the majority, for their courage.

While we are not surprised by the outcome of today’s vote, we are nonetheless shocked by the disregard for the overwhelming opposition demonstrated at every stage of this process. At every possible opportunity for input, the WVU faculty and student body have rejected both the administration’s explanation of how this financial situation arose and their proposals for how to fix it. This vote confirms, publicly and indelibly, the complete capture of West Virginia University by highly-paid administrators who neither teach nor do research, as well as their political overlords. Those administrators and political appointees have created an atmosphere of fear and retaliation, have shown their outright contempt for students and faculty, and have made it abundantly clear that the administration does not consider the voices of our Mountaineer community to be relevant to their decisions.

While most members of the university community were expecting this outcome, many of us nonetheless feel dismayed and helpless to see Gordon Gee’s academic vandalism become a reality. The fight does not end here, however. In the few months since President Gee first announced the coming cuts, a coalition of faculty, staff, students, and alumni came together to ensure that they did not go uncontested. While we will not call the events of today anything other than a travesty, we are certain the outcomes would have been far worse had these dedicated Mountaineers not come together and fought back. Of the original 32 programs and 169 positions recommended to be cut, 4 programs and 26 faculty positions have been saved. These concessions were won by dedicated organizing and hard work over a very short period of time, and demonstrate clearly that the only path available to those who want to continue to fight for the future of WVU is coming together and building an even more organized campus community.

This is not the last round of drastic cuts to our institution. The meeting concluded with Vice President Alsop noting that an additional cut to the tune of $24 million will be implemented for the next fiscal year. Left unchecked, politicians’ and administrators’ plans will continue to disregard the voices of those who truly speak in the name of WVU: the students, faculty, and staff. We implore all of our fellow Mountaineers to continue building the strength needed to save our institution from the forces who have led it to this moment. We are stronger, better organized, and more prepared today than we were when this began, and we will not stop until the WVU we fell in love with is back in our hands.



WVU Faculty Assembly Formally Votes No Confidence in President Gee, Calls for a Freeze on Transformation Process

September 06, 2023

Morgantown, West Virginia —More than 900 faculty members at West Virginia University have formally voted by an overwhelming majority of 89% to pass a resolution expressing as a body their loss of confidence in the administration of President Gordon Gee. This highest of censures possible in the shared governance structure of a university is the result of the failure of the President and his handpicked senior administrators to serve in the best interests of WVU. The current administration, through a series of catastrophic decisions, both administrative and financial, have pushed WVU in the wrong direction as a flagship R1 university in the great Mountain State of West Virginia.

In the same meeting, faculty voted for a resolution calling for an immediate freeze to the Academic Transformation process, passing it as well with an overwhelming majority. This comes after multiple efforts by various faculty, academic programs, departments, students, and communities of interest who have expressed grave concerns regarding the process of “Academic Transformation” adopted by the administration and approved by the Board of Governors. This process has totally upended concepts of shared governance, academic freedom, tenure, and long held principles of how and when financial exigency is declared by a university and how it is collaboratively addressed.

This vote was not taken lightly, and was the result of an accelerated and one-sided process defined by senior administration to blame the financial shortfall on entirely extraneous circumstances beyond their control. Some of these are real; however, the scope of these external pressures have been exaggerated time and again to deflect responsibility from the mistakes and bad judgment calls on the investments and priorities of WVU. Not only was there no introspection, but the solutions offered were ones totally divorced from the inputs of faculty and students on their aspirations, lacked a clear vision of future, and placed nearly all the burden on the backs of faculty and staff. The process has been turned into a totally top down one with no clear reasons on why academically thriving programs are being cut. Any minor changes that have been made to the original proposed cuts are the result of tremendous push back and public outcry. The changes proposed by President Gee and his administration will forever diminish the identity of WVU and seriously harm its mandate and mission as a land-grant university.

This vote was taken under an atmosphere of intimidation and fear that the current leadership has contributed to since this process began. In addition, steps taken to reduce faculty participation through deliberate and unnecessary restrictions on hybrid attendance, scheduling the vote at noon, and inviting leadership to attend, further undermined the free and honest expression of faculty opinion. These actions by the administration to curb dissent are deeply worrying. We demand an immediate cessation of any threats, direct or indirect, against any individuals or programs for any criticism of the university’s actions. This runs contrary to the campus being a bastion of free speech and has been a major contributor to the loss of confidence in the current leadership.

Any effort to dismiss this vote as being unrepresentative would be misguided and would continue to erode the confidence of faculty who have invested significant parts of their professional and personal lives to give the best possible education to every proud Mountaineer. We urge the Board of Governors to listen to this collective voice of faculty and take immediate steps to halt this process and restore the confidence of faculty, staff, and students in the institution they all share. The past year has broken the trust of a lot of people in West Virginia University. It is time to pause, relook, and rebuild. We urge the board to remove President Gee and heal our Mountaineer community by going back to the drawing board on the next steps for our beloved university.

We as a union representing workers of all categories employed by the university are committed to building the collective voices of impacted workers and community members and will continue to advocate for a grass roots reimagining of higher education and WVU’s role in it.


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