WEST LIBERTY, W.Va., Aug. 28, 2020 — West Liberty University held its Opening Convocation Wednesday (Aug. 26) at noon in Kelly Theater without an audience. The annual gathering was presented virtually as a nod to pandemic safety.
Beginning with Vice President of Enrollment Scott Cook’s report, the convocation provided an overview of campus numbers during the beginning weeks of the academic year.
“We have 2,279 students registered for the fall semester at this point, so we are up 18 students at the moment. I expect to see a one percent decline after all the numbers are in,” Cook said. Enrollment numbers are officially reported in October.
The university is down in first-time freshmen as expected and reports two increases, one of returning students and the other of graduate students.
In regards to housing, WLU offered single rooms to all students due to COVID-19 and overall, the housing count is trending down by about 100 students.
Cook also referenced the unique changes in recruiting, with no in-person visits to high schools due to pandemic rules.
“We are now welcoming individual families to come here to campus to visit however we still can’t have group visits. Challenges are expected as we move forward but we have plans to keep the students connected and use our marketing team to keep the outreach strong,” Cook added.
Vice President of Finance Roberta Linger then reported on the financial picture.
“We reported FY20 budget net positive of $168,000. CARES relief money was instrumental in assisting the university achieve the positive ending on June 30 with $1.4 million in refunds going to students due to the pandemic which closed campus at the time of spring break.”
“Our cash on hand grew over the summer but increased expenses are expected to continue as we face the expenses of managing the pandemic. We remain cautious about the coming year,” Linger said.
President Stephen Greiner then took the podium and thanked the maintenance workers for keeping the campus safe, clean and up-to-date during the spring and summer months when most of the staff worked from home.
Greiner also thanked the Crisis Intervention Response Team for the work that was involved in responding to the pandemic as we planned for our fall return of students.
He made special mention of the remote learning work and thanked Topper Station, the IT Department and the Office of e-Learning for the effort put forth during spring and over the summer in preparation for fall. He also thanked all faculty and staff for adjusting so well to online classes and work during the pandemic.
Greiner also gave a construction project update and explained that the CMTA Energy Solutions lighting and campus water improvement projects done over the summer is resulting in significant savings and this will continue as both projects are finished.
The third structure in Topper Village is slowly being completed and about 35 students are waiting for that building’s completion. Additionally, the new labs on the fourth floor of Campbell Hall of Health Sciences are expected to be complete this fall.
Greiner then called Chief Human Resources Officer Diana Harto to the podium. She thanked all essential workers who were so impressive at keeping things going during the pandemic.
Harto also mentioned that the HR Department will soon offer an employee educational course called, “Staying Healthy in a Changing Environment for Higher Education.”
Provost Dr. Brian Crawford then announced faculty promotions followed by the names of those who earned tenure:
Associate professor promotions included: Dr. Stephanie Bradley Speech Pathology and Audiology; Sarah Brammer Physician Assistant Studies; Dr. Gayle Jesse Computer Information Systems; Stephanie Meredith Dental Hygiene and Dr. Eveldora Wheeler Social Work.
Full professor status was achieved by Mike Aulick Theater; Dr. Keith Bell Criminal Justice; Dr. Craig Crow Management; Moonjung Kang Visual Communication Design and Dr. Karen Kettler Biology.
Faculty tenure awards include: Sarah Davis; Dr. Tifani Fletcher; Patrick Garrett; Dr. Scott Hanna; Dr. Chad Kuhns; Dr. Eveldora Wheeler.
Harto returned to the podium to announce Years of Service awards and retirements.
Years of Service Awards were distributed to employees reaching milestone years of 20 and 25 years. Twenty-five-year employees receive a commemorative medal signifying the accomplishment.
Aaron C. Huffman – Professor of Education/Assistant Men’s Basketball Coach
Roger K. Waialae – Head Football Coach/Assistant Athletic Director
Stacey L. Page – Administrative Assistant College of Sciences
Retirements include: Assistant Professor of Journalism Tammi Beagle, Program Assistant Mary Lou Conley, Academic Lab Instructing Assistant Sue Forrester, Associate Professor of Visual Communication Design James Haizlett, Professor of English Waller Hastings, Professor of Nursing Donna Lukich and Assistant Professor of Nursing Karen McClain.
The Opening Convocation always ends with a Staff Council presentation followed by a Faculty Senate presentation. These were presented by NCAA Compliance Coordinator Brad Forshey and Associate Professor of Chemistry Dr. Jon Serra, respectively.
To view the entire Convocation and Faculty Meeting, please visit Topper Station and click on Convocation.