Gordon Gee stated that enrollment had decreased steadily since the pandemic, and graduation rates have improved simultaneously. Together, these factors have resulted in a one-two punch that projects a deficit of $35 million for the fiscal year 2024. This deficit could grow to $75 million over the next five years if the budget is not reduced.
Gee stated that the issue could be managed in the short term because $35 million is approximately 3% of the annual budget of $1.3 billion. Gee asserts that, regardless of whether other leaders are aware of it, the entire higher education system in the country is on shaky ground.
“We will select a financial strategy to eliminate our system’s structural budget deficit and then have resources available for investment. Inform everyone in detail of our actions. Make a lot of notes. Move quickly. Gee stated, “Data and speed are our friends.”
According to Gee, WVU will implement the “First Principals” to prioritize students, embrace the land grant mission and its beneficiaries, and invest in initiatives that distinguish WVU from the more than 4,000 other national institutions.
He later admitted on “Talkline” that WVU has lost focus on its students. We have, like any large university, and we are a large institution, created too many things over time that we do not always do well.
Gee stated, “We will need to consider personnel and programs, but more importantly, we will need to consider ways to expand our institution.”