Mountain State residents are reacting and coming up with solutions and ideas to deal with recent budget cuts announced by West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee. The state’s flagship institution plans to slash more than 30 majors – including languages and creative writing – and eliminate 169 faculty positions.
Rebecca Kimmons, founding member of the nonprofit Create Virginia, said the voices of the communities most affected by the budget cuts have not been included in the discussions about a path forward. Kimmons said input from the sessions, along with an online survery that can be found at ‘createwv.org,’ offers a space for recommendations that will be presented to university officials.
“There’s a lot of anger, and that anger we feel is is justified,” she said. “But what Create West Virginia wants to do is provide an opportunity for positive, helpful input.”
A final listening session is being held starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at First Presbyterian Church in Morgantown.
Kimmons said most of the feedback so far has focused on accountability and fiscal mismanagement.
“Several people mentioned that an independent audit needs to be undertaken. We need facts,” she explained. “You cannot proceed without good information.”
The university is facing a $45 million deficit that Gee says is due to declining state funding and decreased enrollment. Other universities are facing similar financial challenges, including Rutgers University in New Jersey as well as Penn State.