Shepherd comes in last when it comes to state money

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The Shepherd University faculty senate discussed the lack of state funding during a March 8 meeting. (From right to left) senators Chris Lovelace, Jeff Groff, Sylvia Shurbutt, Andro Barnett, Osman Guzide, Roger Hamood, Kathy Reid and vice president for finance James Vigil.

Shepherd University is the bottom of the heap among West Virginia universities and colleges when it comes to state funding.

Based on a formula that calculates employee workload and spending per student, Shepherd gets $2,875 per each faculty member, employee and student compared to the state average of more than $4,000. Shepherd was the only university funded at a ratio of less than $3,000.

These statistics were compiled in a report for the Feb. 25 Shepherd board of governors meeting by faculty representative Dr. Jason Best.

“Throughout the past several years, this senate has discussed financial issues at Shepherd University and how Shepherd gets underfunded compared to other universities in the state,” faculty senate president Dr. James Tuttle said during the March 8 faculty senate meeting. “If you read Best’s report, we are not only the least well-funded, but we are in last place by $2.1 million.”

Best’s report examines the performance-based funding model developed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission in 2012. The model determines state funding for baccalaureate institutions based on full-time equivalent (FTE), a mathematical formula and unit of measurement used to compare the workloads of employees and students across different contexts as defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

“The imposition of across-the-board cuts is especially damaging to an institution that has been traditionally underfunded in proportion to the other schools,” writes Best. “Looking at the Governor’s budget bill for fiscal year of 2017, in the context of the fall 2015 enrollments reported by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission in November 2015, Shepherd continues to be the lowest funded baccalaureate institution in West Virginia, now funded at $2,875 per FTE.”

A chart in the report illustrates that between the fiscal years of 2013 and 2016, Shepherd has received a 15 percent cut in state funding. These cuts have forced tuition hikes for students for the last four years. Tuition in 2014 increased 7.23 percent, 4.99 percent in 2015 and a proposed 5 percent in 2017.

Best states that of Shepherd’s 217 classified employees, 130 are paid at less than a 15-year-old State salary chart and that mid-level managerial staff are leaving Shepherd for salary improvements as high as $15,000 – $40,000.

Notes from the Feb. 25 board of governors meeting agenda indicate the University plans to use LinkedIn to find successful Shepherd alumni and ask them for contributions. University officials also plan to approach top employers of alumni for contributions.

“We expect that development of stronger corporation/foundation relations will lead to increased giving from both individuals and businesses,” the agenda states.

University officials also plan to mount fund-raising campaigns in the community, via the school’s model United Nations, the music department, student athletes and the Washington gateway program.