The Shepherd University Board of Governors voted unanimously in favor of following through with the Academic Prioritization Academic Affairs Recommendation Thursday night as part of an ongoing process to tackle the university’s $6 million structural deficit.
The recommendation, an 84-page detailed proposal, lays the groundwork of how the Office of Academic Affairs, led by Interim Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Robert Tudor, aim to begin tacking the structural deficit by “a full restructuring of academic units,” said Tudor.
The restructuring will reorganize and review all 42 programs offered at Shepherd by discontinuing various undergraduate degrees with teach out plans, consolidating the degree programs into new degrees with new concentrations in collaboration with the Deans of their respected school or department, according to Tudor.
This, in turn, reduces the number of faculty at Shepherd, allocating approximately $1.17 million to reduce the structural deficit to approximately $4.83 million.
Faculty will not be reduced right away, according to the report. Faculty who will be forced to leave will leave after either the 2023-2024 academic year or the 2024-2025 academic year.
Tudor expressed his remorse for the proposal while acknowledging the situation’s utmost significance.
“I thank you for asking difficult questions, remaining committed to your values and for being willing to concede that sometimes we must make impossible decisions. And to our colleagues affected by the recommendations for reduction I’ve put forward,” said Tudor while presenting his report to the BOG, faculty, staff, students, and community members in attendance prior to the unanimous vote. “I’m truly sorry for the significant life altering effects this has presented to you,” he said.
While there was disagreement in opinion regarding academic prioritization and tackling the structural deficit within the BOG, board members were optimistic about moving forward with a plan to save money for the university.
“This was a hard meeting, but overall, I think it was a good meeting,” said Board of Governors Chair Get Caperton.
“We are here as a university for one reason: to train the next generation of leaders and citizens, but we must be financially sustainable,” said Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hedrix.
“I think no matter what decision would’ve been made, it would’ve been a tough decision. It’s not perfect, but I think Rob Tudor and the work that his office has done was very equitable,” said Student Government Association President and Board of Governors Student Body Representative Paul Teter. “There were definitely some people on the board who might have felt differently (to the Academic Prioritization recommendation), but wouldn’t support any more changes or reductions (of faculty) to be made.”