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WVU proposes cutting 7% of flagship campus faculty, all languages

West Virginia University released a proposal that would eliminate academic programs and eliminate faculty jobs.

West Virginia University

Financially beleaguered West Virginia University is proposing to eliminate 9 percent of its majors and 7 percent of its faculty members at the flagship Morgantown campus, including the entirety of the department of world languages, literatures and linguistics, the university announced Friday afternoon.

“The university is reviewing plans to eliminate the language requirement for all majors [and] the university is exploring alternative methods of delivery such as a partnership with an online language app or online partnership with a fellow Big 12 university,” WVU said in its news release.

“It’s hard to imagine any university, anywhere in the world, not teaching world languages, let alone the state flagship, land-grant, R1 university in a state like West Virginia,” said Lisa Di Bartolomeo, a teaching professor of Russian studies at West Virginia, noting that the state has faced a brain drain for generations and has low “intercultural competencies.”

Di Bartolomeo, who’s also a former Faculty Senate chair, former member of the university’s Board of Governors, and a former adviser to WVU President Gordon Gee, said “I think institutions everywhere are facing cuts, particularly in humanities disciplines, but these cuts go beyond what’s reasonable and straight into territory of absurdity.”

The proposed cuts also affect multiple non-humanities units, such as the School of Pharmacy and the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. You can see the full list of proposed changes, by college and school, here.

The afternoon announcement came after X, formally known as Twitter, lit up throughout the day with tweets from faculty members and others as news of the cuts trickled out.  

“Within the preliminary recommendations, 32 of the 338 majors offered on the Morgantown campus have been recommended for discontinuation; 12 of those are undergraduate majors and 20 are graduate-level majors,” WVU said in its news release. “According to Fall 2023 enrollment numbers, this will affect 147 undergraduate students and 287 graduate students, representing approximately less than 2 percent of total student enrollment. The preliminary recommendations also included 169 potential faculty line reductions.”

In the release, Gee said that “While we view these preliminary recommendations for reductions and discontinuations as necessary, we are keenly aware of the people they will affect. We do not take that lightly. These faculty are our colleagues, our neighbors and our friends. These decisions are difficult to make.”

Faculty members must appeal the proposals by Aug. 18.

This is a developing story.

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