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WVU-P to continue virtual classes for now

The new logo for West Virginia University at Parkersburg was approved by the college’s Board of Governors on Wednesday. It features a new design for the school’s mascot, Ricky Riverhawk. Two designs were approved and both will have uses. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

PARKERSBURG — West Virginia University at Parkersburg will be continuing to hold classes virtually for the foreseeable future while remaining in a good financial position.

The school’s Board of Governors met virtually Wednesday to go over the current responses to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, review the school’s annual audit, approve a new logo for the school and more.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, WVU-P will continue to hold all classes virtually, with a limited exception for some labs and technical hands-on classes, for the spring semester, said Brady L. Whipkey, Vice President of Facilities. The college would consider moving back to face-to-face classes if there was a significant change in the trajectory of the pandemic.

“However, that seems highly unlikely,” Whipkey said.

In the meantime, mask mandates and social distancing guidelines for campus facilities will remain in place.

The new logo for West Virginia University at Parkersburg was approved by the college’s Board of Governors on Wednesday. It features a new design for the school’s mascot, Ricky Riverhawk. Two designs were approved and both will have uses. (Photo by Brett Dunlap)

People who receive a positive COVID test are required to work remotely until they are cleared by their doctor and given a release by the health department. Contact tracing would also be conducted. Vaccine distribution is being worked out as there is a limited amount available.

Representatives from Clifton Larson Allen (CLA) went over the annual audit of the university. The audit was conducted 100 percent remotely, said Daniel Persaud of CLA.

“The main impact was the CARES Act funding received by WVU-P,” he said.

The university was awarded $1.7 million while $934,000 was earned in fiscal year 2020.

Vice President Alice Harris said as of Dec. 31, the halfway point for the current academic year, the university has collected around 57 percent of its projected budgeted annual revenue.

Some income was down on services that have relied on students being on campus like cafeteria services as well as certain workforce training programs and more.

“I don’t anticipate where we are with the COVID issue that this is going to change much for this fiscal year,” Harris said. “We have been fortunate we have had grants from the U.S. Department of Education for the CARES Act to be able to assist us to fill in for some of the things we have not been able to do because of other revenue sources declining.”

The university is showing having over $2.7 million in money available, but Harris said $300,000 is from a provision in the CARES Act that allowed them to defer payment of Social Security and Medicare taxes. That money will have to be paid back to the federal government in the future, half at the end of this calendar year and half at the end of the next calendar year.

“We are doing really well in meeting our budget expectations for each line item,” Harris said.

The reason for that is a number of line items are only at 10 percent of what they budgeted for due to the pandemic situation, including expenses like food, travel, printing and other things that went along with the normal activities of a regular semester at the university.

“We are collecting less revenue, we are also spending less money,” Harris said. “We are still in really good shape in meeting the expectation of meeting our budget.”

WVU-P President Chris Gilmer talked about the overall registration for the university.

“Nationally, community colleges have been hardest hit of any higher education sector with overall enrollment down 10 percent, incoming freshman enrollment down 20 percent, and enrollment of historically-underserved students down 30 percent,” he said. “It brings me joy to tell you that WVU-P is solidly bucking that trend.”

The university’s academic team has achieved 100 percent retention of continuing students for spring 2021 compared to spring 2020, Gilmer said.

“This is utterly unheard of in higher education, even in good times,” Gilmer said.

The university has achieved a 16 percent increase in new students for the fall 2020 semester and is level for the spring 2021 semester.

“Focusing only on our college student population, I am proud to report to you that we have achieved statistically level enrollment to start spring 2021, making us unique in a wonderful way among many colleges and universities nationwide,” Gilmer said. “This has not happened by accident.”

The board also approved a new logo for the university.

Recent graduating student Kaitlyn Thompson designed the new logo, highlighting the mascot Ricky Riverhawk, said Vice President Torie Jackson, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

There are two versions, one of the bird in flight and another of a head.

The design needed to have a wing span that could be utilized in a number of marketing initiatives and photo backdrops to be utilized by the community. Both versions would have uses going forward, Jackson said.

“We are always looking for ways to connect with our community,” she said, adding that wording and type font will come at a later date.

Thompson said she was given some ideas and came up with the design.

“I was super excited to be given the opportunity,” she said.

Contact Brett Dunlap at bdunlap@newsandsentinel.com

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