Liz McCormick Published

Emotions High As WVU Board Of Governors Approves Cuts To Programs, Positions

A cardboard sign reading "Save World Languages" is held up in a crowd of red shirts. In the background can be seen WVU's Oglebay Hall
Students and community members protest on the downtown Morgantown campus of West Virginia University Aug. 21, 2023.
Chris Schulz/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Updated on Friday, Sept. 15, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. 

After weeks of heated meetings, walkouts and protests, the West Virginia University (WVU) Board of Governors has voted to eliminate 28 majors and more than 140 faculty positions at West Virginia University. 

Following a presentation that outlined the financial challenges and enrollment decline that led to proposed cuts at WVU, students began chanting loudly and emotionally as board members started to vote. After several minutes, students exited the room, continuing to chant, as board chair Taunja Willis Miller called for order.

“No student was asked to leave,” she said. “And I will not let that misinformation be spread.”

This is just a snapshot into the weeks of contention at West Virginia University.

Some of the schools, departments and programs that will be affected by the cuts include Education, Management, Creative Arts, Law, various sciences and mathematics, Communication Studies, Philosophy, among others. 

Notable is the full elimination of the World Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics Department. The only exception for this department are continued elective courses in Spanish and Chinese, and seven faculty positions in this department will be saved. 

Ten of the 28 majors eliminated are undergraduate majors, while the remaining 18 are graduate or professional majors. 

According to school officials, the reduction in undergraduate majors, including double majors, will affect 91 students. At the graduate and professional levels, the reduction will impact 238 students.

It was noted in the meeting that students who will be affected by the eliminations would either be able to complete their majors or be offered alternative majors that “meets their academic goals.” 

Additionally, the Master of Fine Arts in Acting, which was previously a proposed cut, will be retained. 

WVU’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Maryanne Reed was the last person to speak ahead of the vote. She acknowledged the difficult decision to eliminate so many academic programs but argued it will make the university stronger.

“Even with the accelerated timeline, this was a thoughtful, professional and data informed process. I am proud of the work done by the members of our team who has spent the last six months entirely focused on this effort,” Reed said. “They did so, as did I, believing that this was the right thing to do to preserve our beloved WVU for the future. I recognize that many of my colleagues and friends do not feel the same way, some of you are in the room, and I respect your right to argue against these changes … While this has been a challenging time, I truly believe brighter days are ahead of us if we can rebuild trust and work together toward building an even better and a more sustainable WVU.”

The university will still offer more than 300 academic programs.