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Fairmont State Board of Governors greenlights planning of new online program;  Increased housing occupancy rates and continued financial stability also  highlighted Impact
Fairmont State News

Fairmont State Board of Governors greenlights planning of new online program; Increased housing occupancy rates and continued financial stability also highlighted

Hardway HallDuring their February 15 meeting, Fairmont State University’s Board of Governors (BOG) approved planning for a new online criminal justice bachelor’s degree program, endorsed next steps to clarify policy review and creation, announced improved housing occupancy rates, and reported continued financial stability. 

During his update to the Board, Fairmont State President Dr. Mike Davis summarized major events he’s attended in the first seven months of his Presidency, with a heavy focus on engagement. These have included alumni meetings, athletic competitions, community events, sit-downs with government officials, and more. Dr. Davis also highlighted major upcoming engagements, including the February 29 Falcon Day of Giving and his Inauguration on April 4. 

“Fairmont State University is the best regional university in West Virginia, and we are working diligently to communicate that across the state,” said Davis. “We have outstanding academic programs, skilled faculty, a beautiful campus, ample scholarship opportunities, and one of the lowest tuition rates in the region. We want to make sure everyone in our state and beyond knows this.”

Davis also shared enhanced presidential communication, including a new Presidential webpage. He described the page as a hub and spoke model that links to his monthly video messages, a featured media section, updates on the University’s strategic plan, a Presidential event calendar, and other important resources. 

“Dr. Davis has a strong vision for the future of this institution, confidence in who we are today, and a plan to get from here to there,” said Board of Governors Chair Rusty Hutson. “The Board appreciates his dedication to and the time he spends interacting with the campus, alumni, community, government officials, and others who contribute to Fairmont State.” 

Next, the Board turned to academics. “Our programs are the bedrock of the academic operations of the University,” said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Dianna Phillips. “When we consider a new academic program, we look at many factors, including program sustainability, responsiveness to industry demands, flexibility, and nimbleness.” The Board then approved an “intent to plan” for an online Bachelor of Science program in criminal justice. 

Phillips also shared that Professor of English Dr. Donna Long is one of the five finalists for the Faculty Merit Foundation of West Virginia’s Professor of the Year award. Selection will occur in the spring. 

The Enrollment, Housing, and Student Life Committee discussed that higher education’s greatest challenge in West Virginia is retention, and Fairmont State is no exception. Interim Vice President for Student Success Alicia Kalka showed the Board how Fairmont State is currently in the upper half of regional institutions in fall-to-fall retention. However, the leadership is confident the University can improve and grow the student body. 

One positive indicator is that the on-campus housing occupancy rate is up over 5% for the fiscal year, signaling a return to pre-pandemic levels. According to Vice President for Finance and Administration Christa Kwiatkowski, the University has more cash on hand than any other 4-year regional institution in West Virginia. With this reserve, the Board is considering investments to set a new standard of excellence in student learning, life, and housing experience on campus for greater retention moving forward.

Finally, the BOG decided to move forward in considering updates to Board Policy 50 the “Policy on Policies”. The Bylaws Committee proposed updating the policy to provide greater clarity and distinction between Board and Administrative responsibilities. These changes, which will be considered in the coming months, should also make updating BOG policies faster and more efficient.

The next full Board of Governors meeting will take place April 18 at 9 a.m. in the Falcon Center Board Room.