A MESSAGE FROM THE BOARD CHAIR
We have all heard the old adage, “the more things change, the more they stay the same”. This is certainly not true for West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities (WVICU). This past year, 2017 brought plenty of new directions yielding greater opportunities.
West Virginia Colleges and Universities adopted a new mission in 2017 which better reflects the current organization’s direction. The mission of WVICU now reads “The mission of the West Virginia Independent Colleges and Universities is to advance collectively the interest of West Virginia’s independent colleges and universities and their students.” In defining a clearer mission, core values were identified to guide decision making and communications. WVICU is dedicated to: providing a personal and diverse education experience in West Virginia; responding quickly to student and societal needs; increasing student success; and, engaging the future of West Virginia. Three strategic priorities were adopted to move the new direction forward: government relations and advocacy; resource development and sustainability; and, governance and administration.
Changes undertaken to the governance and administration of WVICU included Amended and Re-Stated Articles of Incorporation as well as revisions to the Bylaws. The revisions adopted by the Board of Directors create a membership organization which is comprised of the eight private, independent institutions of higher education in West Virginia. The Board of Directors was streamlined to include all eight Presidents of the member colleges and universities and seven members representing business and industry. The Chairman of the Board is required to be a President of one of the member institutions. The revisions also reduced the number of Board Committees to better reflect the newly adopted mission. In addition, the Board of Directors is in the process of transitioning the Executive Director position from part-time to a full time position.
In keeping with the new emphasis on government relations and advocacy, WVICU released an economic impact statement for academic year 2017-2018 to the press on January 23, 2018 during Higher Education Day at the West Virginia Legislature. West Virginia independent colleges and universities have a $375.9 million impact on our State. Combined we have over 8,500 students enrolled; provide almost 5,000 jobs in our communities; and, provide a total payroll in West Virginia of $221,990,035. West Virginia’s independent colleges and universities not only play an important role in educating students, we also stimulate the economy of the communities where we are located. As a follow-up to the press conference, the Presidents of the colleges and universities visited the editorial boards of the Charleston Gazette-Mail and the Ogden Newspapers.
The new direction of WVICU was undertaken to provide increased opportunities for the institutions and their students by advocating for the role independent higher education plays in West Virginia and providing financial aid to West Virginia students attending these institutions. At a time when our state is striving to increase the number of its college graduates, in 2017 the independent colleges and universities graduated over two thousand students, over half of whom are West Virginians and over thirty-five percent are the first in their families to attend college. We are an active and essential component of our State’s educational, economic and cultural life.
Dr. J. Tim Berry, Board Chair