Shepherd University President Suzanne Shipley made the case to area legislators for increased state funding during a stakeholders breakfast held on campus Oct. 18 which was attended by 60 area community and business leaders.
In her remarks, she cited the serious effects on Shepherd's ability to hire faculty that recent state funding cuts to higher education are causing and emphasized that continued cuts in state funding could impact academic offerings.
Shipley stated that with an annual operating budget of $60 million and 600 employees, Shepherd returns $18 to the region's economy for every $1 in state appropriations.
Shepherd's budget experienced a $1 million state-mandated reduction that resulted in increased tuition, across-the-board cuts to departments and units, and a 90-day moratorium on hiring. For the upcoming fiscal year, additional state budget cuts could force Shepherd to reduce faculty and staff by not filling any vacancies that occur, resulting in larger classes and stretching already thin services to students.
Shipley asked legislators attending the meeting to help her campaign to prevent budget cuts to higher education, stating that Shepherd's resources should not be diluted further.
Other presenters included James Vigil, who spoke about the increased role auxiliary operations play in funding Shepherd initiatives; Dr. Ed Snyder, a longtime faculty member who said that low salaries push Shepherd professors to find teaching jobs outside of West Virginia; Jos Moreno, a recent graduate of a Shepherd master's program originally from Massachusetts who talked about the affordability of tuition for the program when he was choosing a grad school to attend; and Bridget Cohee, a member of the Contemporary American Theater Festival board, who spoke of the high quality education her daughter is receiving at Shepherd, the university's nurturing environment, and the effect that student volunteers make in the community as role models.