Gordon Gee, president of West Virginia University, has proposed cutting 9 percent of the majors the university offers and 7 percent of its fulltime faculty.
Some humanities programs would be affected by the proposal. Majors in several foreign languages would be eliminated, for example, and several programs in the English Department would have to cut faculty.
Yet the recommendation for the Department of Philosophy, whose undergraduate major went under review, was to “continue at the current level of activity.”
Not all programs at the university were reviewed. Philosophy at WVU was notified in July that their BA program would be subject to review because of the following:
- Undergraduate enrollment in the Philosophy program is small and declined over five years (2018-2022).
- Departmental student credit hours and tuition revenue decreased over three years (2020-2022).
- Full-time faculty increased by one over four years (2020-2023). The ratio of program majors to full-time faculty is well below the median.
- Departmental expenses decreased over three years (2020-2022).
- Tuition revenues exceeded expenses annually over three years, but the trend worsened over time (2020-2022).
The plan presented by the unit in its self-study proposed a reduced use of GTAs and supplemental faculty, an increase in revenue through recruitment, an increase to section sizes; although, no plan to significantly reduce cost was presented. The self-study directly engaged with the unit’s data and provided meaningful context but over-relied on the importance of double majors in their enrollment analyses. The self-study provided a strong argument that the unit produces significant revenue in an efficient manner. Unit worked with Provost’s Office to correct faculty data.
Both the reasons for review and the language of the preliminary recommendation provide information as to what the administrators look at when deciding whether and how to cut programs. Note, for example, the remarks about double majors, upon which philosophy programs in general tend to depend, and which has been an issue with program cuts at other schools.
The final vote on the proposed cuts by the university’s Board of Governors will take place on September 15th, according to a schedule posted by the university.