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The WVU Stewardship Plan:

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An Alternative to the Transformation Plan

For the review and consideration of the WVU Board of Governors

October 31, 2023

Objective

We, the undersigned stewards of West Virginia University, do hereby offer the following Stewardship Plan as an alternative to the Transformation Plan offered by President Gee, Maryanne Reed, and Rob Alsop in the hope of pursuing “West Virginia University’s commitment to becoming a stronger, better university”. (1)

Goals

Our goals are to:

  • Ensure that West Virginia University remains a financially solvent public institution in the eyes of the state, the nation, and the alumni.

  • Change the negative tide of national and state-wide public opinion being waged in the media in regard to recent announcements about West Virginia University.

  • Help ensure a university that continues to meet the needs of our students, our campus, and our communities now and in the future.

Solution

The Stewardship Proposal

The Stewardship Plan leaves intact West Virginia University while meeting the $45 million expense reduction target established by the University.  Any and all of the perceived benefits of the Transformation Plan can still be accomplished under the Stewardship Plan on a reasonable time-table established by a new senior administration team through a combination of the following actions:

• Specific Results of the Proposal   

  • Immediate halt to the Transformation Plan initiatives relating to program discontinuations, faculty line reductions and non-renewal of contracts.

  • The rescission of all reduction In force notices and notices of non-renewal previously issued by the University to be effective in May 2024.

  • No involuntary faculty line reductions

  • No non-renewal of contracts

  • No disruption in the service to students or employees of West Virginia University.

 

Specific Actions of the Proposal

  • Action: Immediate removal of three General Institutional Support (GIS) employees ($1.9m savings) (2)

    • Replacement cost is estimated at $1.2 million (3)

    • Amount of Savings: $0.7 million

  • Action: 15% reduction for the remainder of GIS operating expenses 

    • Amount of Savings: $21.0 million

  • Action: Voluntary workforce reductions as addressed by the University on 5/12/23

    • Amount of Savings: $9.7 million

  • Action: 2.4% across the board salary reduction for all other WVU employees excluding:

    •    All Athletic employees earning more than $300,000 and

    •    All WVU employees earning less than $75,000(4).

    • Amount of Savings: $13.6 million

 Total operating expense reduction: $45.0 million

 

Additional Financial Considerations

 

•     The Stewardship Plan nullifies all 32 of the program cuts and the resulting reductions in force 169.  Additionally, The Stewardship Plan nullifies all of the contract non-renewals scheduled to become effective in May 2024. The senior administration has not disclosed the number of employees who have been or are anticipated to be non-renewed under the Transformation Plan.  Based on the lack of transparency by the Senior Administration, The Stewards of West Virginia can only estimate this number to be between 50-260 employees. 

 

•     The Stewardship Plan will save between 219 to 429 jobs.

 

•     Accordingly, The Stewardship Plan further saves the University $5.0 million in avoided severance costs under the BOG Rule 4.7.  We can only estimate that a comparable amount can/will be saved by the avoidance of severance for the non-renewals.

 

•     Stewards of West Virginia University is asking all West Virginia University employees who earn more than $300,000 per year to take an additional permanent voluntary 5% reduction in their annual salaries.  This voluntary salary reduction could be used by the University to reduce the 2.4% across-the-board salary reduction

 

•     The total impact to the cash flow of the University as a result of implementation of the Stewardship Plan is estimated to be $55.0 million or more, $45.0 million of which is permanent savings.

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Background of General Institutional Support

 

•     For the fiscal year ended 6/30/2013 (fiscal 2013), expenses for the functional classification General Institutional Support (GIS) totaled $91.9 million including Salaries and Wages of $50.3 million, and Benefits of $12.7 million.  These amounts made up 10.5% of the University’s total Salaries, Wages and Benefits and 9.7% of the University’s total operating expenses in fiscal 2013

 

•     For the fiscal year ended 6/30/2022 (fiscal 2022), expenses for the GIS totaled $140.1 million including Salaries and Wages of $74.2 million, and Benefits of $10.1 million.  These amounts made up 12.5% of the University’s total Salaries, Wages and Benefits and 12.0% of the University’s total operating expenses in fiscal 2022.

 

•     Salaries, wages and benefits of GIS increased by 33.8% from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2022 and total expenses increased by 52.5% during the same time period.  Salaries, wages and benefits for the University as a whole increased by 12.1% from 2013 to 2022 and total expenses increased by 23.9% during the same time period.

 

•     In fiscal 2021 GIS absorbed benefits at a rate of 16.5% of salaries and wages.  The University as a whole absorbed benefits at a rate of 21.9% of salaries and wages.  Had GIS absorbed benefits at the same rate as the University as a whole, an additional $3.9 million would have been added to the GIS total spending.

 

•      In fiscal 2022 GIS absorbed benefits at a rate of 13.6% of salaries and wages.  The University as a whole absorbed benefits at a rate of 19.0% of salaries and wages.  Had GIS absorbed benefits at the same rate as the University as a whole, an additional $4.0 million would have been added to the GIS total spending.

 

•     GIS includes the Leadership Team of the University(9) which is comprised of 21 individuals and 18 Deans.  Total Salaries and Wages of the Leadership Team for fiscal 2022 amounted to $11.5 million.  Accordingly, salaries and wages of the staff supporting the Leadership team amounted to $62.7 million in fiscal 2022.

 

•     The Stewardship Plan calls for $1.9 million in salary, wage and benefit reductions (before replacement costs of $1.2 million), and other spending reductions of $21.0 million most of which are expected to be reductions in work force, salary adjustments or any combination of the two.  These reductions represent only 15.9% of total GIS spending in 2022.  The adjusted GIS spending ($118.4 million) represents a 28.8% increase in spending from fiscal 2013 to fiscal 2022 well above the 20.8% increase recognized by the rest of the University during the same time period.  Additional cost savings could very likely be found in the GIS functional classification.

Questions Posed to Senior Administration that have not been Answered as of 10/28/2023

  1. 10/12/23 Why did General Institutional Support (GIS) payroll and related expenses increase by 34% from $63.0 million in 2013 to $84.3 million in 2022?

 

  1. 10/23/23 What is the status of voluntary work force reduction plan

 

  1. 10/24/23 Where did the $45 million target come from.  According to the University’s budget, the estimated operating deficit for 2023 is $59.6 million and the budgeted deficit for 2024 is $16.8 million.

 

  1. 10/24/23 The operating cash flow budget reports an estimated actual deficit of $29.3 million in 2023 and a deficit of $3.0 million in 2024 before capital expenditures.  CAPEX for the last two years (fiscal 2022 and fiscal 2021) totaled $215.8 million.  Are we about to fall off a cliff?

 

  1. 10/27/23 Are the Deans salaries, wages and benefits included in GIS?

 

  1. 10/27/23 Please explain the disproportionate allocation of benefits compared to salaries and wages for a) the auxiliary functional classification and b) GIS for fiscal 2022.

 

  1. 10/28/23 Please provide headcounts for each of the functional classifications identified in footnote 26 to the University’s financial statements for every year from 2013 thru 2023.

 

 

  1. Please provide the number of employees and corresponding budget reduction for each of the following:

    1. 169 Reduction in Workforce $__________________

    2. _____Contract non-renewals $​​​​​______________________

    3. _____voluntary work-force reductions $​​​​​_________________

These three should add up to $45.0 million.

 

The lack of transparency on the part of senior administration has caused the Stewards of West Virginia University to use educated estimates in preparing the Plan although the administration has or should have all of this data.

Notes and References

(1) https://transformation.wvu.edu/ (viewed 10/22/23)

(2) Savings are based on salaries, wages and benefits for the year ended 6/30/22.  Actual savings will likely increase based on 2023 data.

(3) $750K estimate provides for the replacement of the President of the University and salary increases for internal successors of the other three individuals.

4) Estimated savings resulting from 169 faculty line reductions = 169 x $100,000 est. salaries X 1.19 for benefits times 2/12 for severance.

(5) Individual Salaries and Wages were obtained from the State’s report for 2022 and includes salaries and wages for Huggins, Brown and Lyons.  Huggins and Lyons have since left the University.  The difference between their 2022 actual salaries compared to the future salaries for their replacement will likely provide additional savings for the University.

(6) West Virginia University Financial Statements – Note 26

(7) Leadership team was retrieved on 9/28/23 from https://www.wvu.edu/about-wvu/university-leaders.

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