WVU reports to BOG on finances in face of state budget cuts - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

WVU reports to BOG on finances in face of state budget cuts

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West Virginia University is financially sound.

Its investments have performed well despite a difficult economy. In addition, lower interest rates have enabled the university to refinance several notes, freeing up money for other improvements and operations, the Board of Governors learned Friday at its first meeting of 2013.

Despite the performance, Vice President for Administration and Finance Narvel Weese said the university is still evaluating how it will absorb a $13.3 million cut in state expenditures for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

"Certainly the university is very concerned about this pending budget reduction and recognizes that a budget cut at this level would impact the university's delivery of quality services to our students and the residents of West Virginia," Weese said.

"With this in mind, the university is actively seeking ways to navigate through these problems and continues to engage legislative leaders and state officials in meaningful dialogue to mitigate the financial budget loss and to explore ways the state might help the university operate more flexibly and efficiently in these challenging financial times.

The university is working with legislative leaders and state officials to find ways to mitigate and manage the loss, he said.

"While the university is mindful that the state's economy is not performing at a level needed to support the current level of budget expenditures, we are very optimistic that state leadership will work with the university to find creative solutions, which allow the University to grow and succeed into the next decade," he said.

The board had previously approved the issuance of $210.5 million in bonds, with the proceeds to pay off an earlier bond sale, and generate new funds. Weese reported that the new bond issue on Jan. 29 enabled the University to save $17.5 million in interest payments. Additionally, the sale netted $15 million for improvements in the PRT transit system and $14.5 million for the previous acquisition of property for the University Place development in Sunnyside and financed a part of the construction of the Animal Facility Annex.

A separate refinancing of Health Sciences Center notes from 2005 also freed up $1.4 million annually for HSC operations.

Additionally, Weese noted that bids received for the previously announced construction of new buildings for the College of Physical Activity and Sports Sciences and Student Health are $4.9 million lower than anticipated.

Separately, Rick Kraich, vice president for investments at the WVU Foundation, reported foundation investment assets totaled nearly $1.1 billion as of Dec. 31, 2012. That includes the long-term investment pool which saw a return of 10.5 percent for the calendar year 2012. The value of the endowment investment pool stood at $444 million as of December, Kraich added. The foundation acts as an investment agent for WVU and WVU Hospitals.