West Virginia University Faces Budget Deficit

West Virginia University Faces Budget Deficit

Here in the Mountain State, it’s hard to miss the news that West Virginia University is facing a $45 million budget deficit. Over the coming 5-7 years, the university is projecting a need to reduce their overall budget by at least $75 million due to declining enrollment trends. In response, university leadership announced earlier this month that a large swath of programs throughout the institution have been designated for a formal review as part of the means of addressing this shortfall.

While the expanse of programs under review may seem disconcerting, the formal review does not guarantee any specific action. According to Associate Provost Mark Gavin, outcomes span from “continue as-is without any specific action” to “discontinue” with a spectrum of adjustments in between.

Hand wringing abounds. Some factions opine that the state legislature should appropriate money to fill the gap. Others take umbrage that any program deserves to end up on the chopping block.


It is Good for West Virginia University to Review Programs and Costs

Regular evaluation of programs, operations, staffing, and beyond is part of any healthy institution. No matter whether the organization is private, public, large, or small, no sector is immune from this need.

Fundamental questions drive these evaluations. It is right and proper to ask:

  • Is the benefit of this program or position worth the costs we incur to operate it?
  • Does this program or position meet the needs today that it met when it was initiated?
  • Is this program or position aligned with our organizational mission and vision?
  • Is this program or position advancing the progress of the populations we aim to serve?

Perhaps the most frustrating aspect of undertaking these evaluations is the ambiguity in what needs to be done once the qualitative and quantitative data are gathered. Rarely ever is the answer clear cut. Besides, when the answer is clear, it’s usually bad. Almost always, there are opportunities to trim the proverbial fat and otherwise streamline processes or integrate programs.

It’s easy to point at our state’s flagship university and form strong opinions. Surely, with a $1.2+ billion budget, individuals of every persuasion can find a target for the stones they wish to throw. Some can reasonably conclude that there’s no way every last dollar running through WVU is being used efficiently to serve students. So, obviously, they could stand to make some cuts. Others view that $1.2 billion budget as a flashing neon sign advertising the importance of the university to the overall economic well-being of the state. So, obviously, any cut that is made jeopardizes the economy today and into the future.


Other Universities Face Budget Concerns

Nonetheless, West Virginia University is not the only flagship university to face these budgetary challenges. Rutgers University in New Jersey is staring down a $125 million deficit. The University of Kansas recently faced $75 million shortfall and reform plans included eliminating 42 programs with low enrollment. Penn State University has a deficit in the neighborhood of $150 million, and is currently exercising options to balance that budget by 2025 through a combination of strategic hiring freezes, new budgeting protocols, and layoffs.

These budget challenges are not unique to our friends in Morgantown. They are happening throughout the country, and trends suggest they will continue to spread. Anything less than a straightforward confrontation today is inviting a nasty reckoning in the relatively near future.

Let me be clear: West Virginia University is taking the right path – for its students, for the people of West Virginia, and as a flagship higher education institution.

If everything is sacred, nothing is.



West Virginia University Programs Under Review

The programs under review include:

  • The Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources
  • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
    • BSCE Civil Engineering
  • Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering
    • BSBSE Biometric Systems Engineering
    • BSCPE Computer Engineering
    • BSCS Computer Science
    • BS Cybersecurity
    • BSEE Electrical Engineering
  • Department of Mining Engineering
    • BSMINE Mining Engineering
    • PhD Engineering: Mining Engineering
  • Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering
    • BSPNGE Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering
    • PhD Engineering: Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering
  • College of Applied Human Sciences
  • School of Education
    • BA Elementary Education
    • MA Higher Education Administration
    • MA Literacy Education
    • MA Multi-categorical Special Education
    • PHD Higher Education
    • EDD Higher Education Administration
  • College of Creative Arts
  • School of Art and Design
    • BA Art History
    • BA Technical Art History
    • BFA Art Education
    • MA Art Education
  • School of Music
    • BA Music
    • BA Music Business and Industry
    • BM Music Composition
    • BM Music Education
    • BM Music Performance: Jazz and Commercial Music
    • BM Music Performance
    • BM Music Therapy
    • MA Music Business and Industry
    • MM Collaborative Piano
    • MM Composition
    • MM Conducting
    • MM Jazz Pedagogy
    • MM Music Education
    • MM Performance
    • DMA Collaborative Piano
    • DMA Composition
    • DMA Conducting
    • DMA Performance
  • School of Theatre and Dance
    • BA Dance
    • BFA Acting
    • BFA Musical Theatre
    • BFA Theatre
    • BFA Theatre Design and Technology
    • BFA Puppetry
    • MFA Acting
    • MFA Costume Design and Technology
    • MFA Lighting Design and Technology
    • MFA Scenic Design and Technology
    • MFA Technical Direction
  • College of Law
    • Law
      • JD Law
  • Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design
    • Department of Design and Community Development
      • BS Design Studies
      • BS Environmental and Community Planning
      • BS Fashion Design and Merchandising
      • BS Interior Architecture
      • BSLA Landscape Architecture
      • MLA Landscape Architecture
      • PhD Human and Community Development
    • Department of Forestry and Natural Resources
  • BSF Forest Resource Management
  • BSR Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources
  • BS Wildlife and Fisheries Resources
  • BSF Wood Science and Technology
  • Department of Plant and Soil Sciences
    • BS Environmental, Soil and Water Science
    • BS Environmental Microbiology
    • BS Horticulture
    • BS Sustainable Food and Farming
  • Department of Resource Economics and Management
    • BS Agribusiness Management
    • BS Energy Land Management
    • BS Environmental and Energy Resources Management
    • BS Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
    • MS Energy Environments
    • PhD Natural Resource Economics
  • Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
    • Center for Women’s and Gender Studies
      • BA Women’s and Gender Studies
    • Department of Chemistry
      • BA / BS Chemistry
    • Department of Communication Studies
      • BA Communication Studies
      • MA Communication Studies (online)
      • MA Communication Studies
      • PhD Communication Studies
    • Department of English
      • BA English
      • BA English Secondary Education
      • MFA Creative Writing
      • MA Professional Writing and Editing
      • PhD English
    • Department of Mathematical and Data Sciences
      • BA / BS Mathematics
      • PhD Mathematics
    • Department of Philosophy
      • BA Philosophy
    • Department of Public Administration
      • MLS Legal Studies
      • MPA Public Administration
    • Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
      • BA Chinese Studies
      • BA French
      • BA German Studies
      • BA Russian Studies
      • BA Spanish
      • MA Linguistics
      • MA Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages
    • John Chambers College of Business and Economics
      • Department of Management
        • BSBAD Management
        • MS Human Resource Management
        • PhD Business Administration: Management
      • School of Medicine
        • Department of Human Performance and Communications Sciences and Disorders
          • BS Communication Sciences and Disorders
          • BS Exercise Physiology
          • BS Health Informatics / Information Management
          • BS Human Performance and Health
          • MS Athletic Training
          • MOT Occupational Therapy
          • MS Speech Language Pathology
          • PhD Exercise Physiology
          • AUD Audiology
          • DPT Physical Therapy
        • School of Pharmacy
          • School of Pharmacy
            • PHARMD Pharmacy
          • School of Public Health
            • School of Public Health
              • BS Public Health
              • MHA Health Administration


Jessi Troyan is the Director of Policy & Research for the Cardinal Institute for West Virginia Policy.

Read more about college and university programs in West Virginia that may not be worth the money they cost.