Clements Reflects on WVU’s Journey in Yearly Address - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Clements Reflects on WVU’s Journey in Yearly Address

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To illustrate West Virginia University's journey last year, President James P. Clements used the solar decathlon team's construction of a safe, environmentally friendly log home as a metaphor for the University's progress.

One of 20 college teams selected to take part in the U.S. Department of Energy's competition of making an energy-efficient solar house, the WVU team that had never before built a house fought a stormy summer to create the university's first entry into the competition.

 

As Clements applauded the members of the Decathlon team in the audience, he said although it was only one part of university activity last year, it symbolized the university's role. 

"This project goes to the heart of what WVU is all about," Clements said. "That's taking an interdisciplinary approach to meeting the needs of the state, the nation and the world."
Clements acknowledged the significant budget challenges facing the state and the university system, but he also pointed to other avenues of support and how WVU has managed to use its resources wisely. 

As WVU prepares for the $13 million state budget reduction and other losses in the 2014 Fiscal Year, budget priorities will be guided by several factors, including WVU's core academic mission and 2020 strategic plan, he said. Campus infrastructure improvements, both technology and facilities, and a desire to give raises in Fiscal Year 2015 are other driving factors. 

"The people at WVU are our most important asset that we have, and we want to retain and recruit the best," Clements said. "We simply have to move toward nationally competitive salaries if we are to deliver on our mandate for quality education, innovation and engagement needed to serve 55 counties across the state." 

All in all, WVU receives less funding per student from both tuition and state appropriations than its peer institutions, he added. Clements pointed out that the national education crisis requires that higher education institutions rise to meet the "innovation deficit" that is widening between the U.S. and other developed nations. 

"The budget constraints we are all facing nationally have limited our capacity to meet our responsibilities," he said. "However, and I think all of us in this room will agree, focusing on our land-grant mission, that will make us stronger. 

"For example, by maintaining the quality of our academic research and our public service programs and by providing an overall positive student experience, WVU has continued to meet our enrollment goals while attracting students of higher academic standing." 

He pointed to one recent success. In a preliminary analysis for WVU's main campus, incoming freshmen are showing significant increases in high school GPAs, and ACT and SAT scores.
Clements highlighted the milestones that are bringing the university much closer to its 2020 Strategic Plan for the Future goals.

Goals include:

 

  • Engage undergraduate, graduate and professional students in a challenging academic environment. Within the last year, WVU established both the University College and the Division of Academic Innovation and entered the world of massive, open, online courses, as well as adding new degree programs and faculty positions.
  • Excel in research, creative activity and innovation in all disciplines. Five "Mountains of Excellence" areas WVU is expanding include eliminating health disparities in Appalachia, improving STEM education and scientific literacy, utilizing shale gas responsibility, promoting stewardship of water resources and achieving international leadership in radio astronomy. Among the achievements is a partnership with The Ohio State University surrounding shale energy and a $19.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to address the most common health issues affecting West Virginians.
  • Create an integrated administrative infrastructure to promote diversity, inclusion, equality and intercultural and intercommunity outreach. New initiatives will include encouraging growth in the Hispanic population at WVU, expanding the African-American community in number and participation and exploring the possibility of an office for WVU's lesbian, bisexual, gay, questioning and transgender community.
  • Advance international activity and global engagement. The Global Engagement Roundtable group is working toward the goals of doubling the percentage of international students from 4.8 percent to 10 percent of the student body, doubling the number of inbound international scholars and professionals and doubling the percentage of study-abroad participants from 3.6 percent to 6 percent of the student body.
  • Enhance the well-being and quality of life of the people of West Virginia.
"From dentistry to law to journalism, to mining extension and rural health initiatives, our colleges and divisions serve West Virginia across the entire state," Clements said.
"Since I started at WVU, the university has graduated 25,473 students," he said. "That's 25,473 dreams coming true.
"I can't think of another place as committed to making a real difference as our West Virginia University community, and I am proud to serve along with you in that effort."

 

 

"Consider this troubling fact: The U.S. has fallen to 16th among developed countries in the percentage of young adults who hold a college degree," Clements said. "Also consider this fact: Over the last 10 years, R&D expenditures as a share of economic output have remained nearly constant in the U.S. but have increased by nearly 50 percent in South Korea and nearly 90 percent in China."

Clements said he was one of 200 presidents in the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to send a letter to the White House and Congress urging federal support for research.

The University has continued to support its important land-grant mission based on the Morrill Act signed by Abraham Lincoln, Clements said. This coming year, the University's mission of state outreach will be underscored with the celebration of the Smith-Lever Act, which created the Cooperative Extension Service.

During his address, Clements highlighted many successes.

Donors to the WVU Foundation State of Minds campaign reached the 90 percent mark of the $750 million goal with more than $670 million pledged before the December 2015 end goal.

Both Moody's and Standard and Poor's financial rating services gave the university high bond ratings for private support, diverse revenue streams, strong programs and stable enrollment.

Partnerships with Big 12 schools are growing to include student affairs and marketing efforts, faculty exchanges and research collaborations, as well as the receipt by researchers of seven Big 12 Faculty Fellowships.

In the past three years, 10 students earned Fulbright scholarships for international study compared to one WVU student Fulbright scholarship in the previous 17 years.

The university partnered with the Advanced Internet Regions consortium, to use vacant broadcast TV channels to provide the main campus and nearby areas with wireless broadband Internet service, the first university in the nation to do so.

WVU hosted national dialogues in support of the land-grant mission that included a National Research Council forum, a national panel on innovation and a National Academy of Science shale gas workshop.

WVU continues to invest in infrastructure and capital facilities with a number of new buildings, from academic programming to student health.

After detailing all of the challenges and successes of the past year, Clements brought his speech back around to the students, especially those who built the Solar Decathlon house.