Board of Governors approves new degree programs, receives enrollment and budget updates; overall and new freshman enrollment up this fall

The Marshall University Board of Governors approved three new degree programs and received updates about the university’s fall enrollment and operating budget at their meeting on the Huntington campus last week.

The degrees approved  include the bachelor of arts in sport management, master of science in clinical and translational science, and master of social work. All three programs are slated to be offered beginning with the fall 2016 semester.

In a report to the board, Senior Vice President of Institutional Research and Planning Michael McGuffey said final enrollment numbers for the fall semester are in, with overall enrollment up 257 students, or two percent, and new freshman enrollment up 54 students, or nearly three percent. McGuffey said most of the increase in overall enrollment is due to the INTO Marshall international recruitment initiative and the professional programs at the schools of pharmacy and physical therapy. He said more than 300 credit students are enrolled this semester through INTO Marshall.

McGuffey added that Marshall now has more than 600 students enrolled in distance programs—programs that can be completed entirely online. Because students in these programs have no campus or physical classroom presence and do not participate in campus activities and events, the university offers them a special distance tuition rate in lieu of regular tuition and fees.

According to McGuffey, the university’s retention rate, or the percentage of students who returned to Marshall from last semester, is up about one-half percent over last fall to 73.1 percent. McGuffey said that equals a 4.5 percent retention rate increase over the last two years.

Mary Ellen Heuton, senior vice president for finance/chief financial officer, told the board the university had received details about the four percent mid-year budget cut recently ordered by the governor. She said the total impact of the cut to Marshall is a little over $2.5 million, including $1.9 million for the university operating budget and $600,000 for the School of Medicine, and that the reduction will be taken in the third quarter. University administrators and members of the Budget Work Group, which is made up of representatives from Marshall’s faculty, student body, staff and administration, are working on a plan to deal with the cut and will present a reforecast of the university’s Fiscal Year 2016 budget at the board’s December meeting.

In other action, the board accepted a report on tuition waivers and the Financial Report for Fiscal Year 2015, and received the Investment Earnings Report for July and August. The board also approved updates to the Institutional Compact, as required by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC), and finalized amendments to a policy for the university’s Employee Dependent Undergraduate Tuition Assistance Program—a benefit that offers dependent children of eligible employees the opportunity to earn a college degree at Marshall at a reduced cost.

Members also voted to renew the Memorandum of Understanding between the university and the Marshall University Foundation Inc. regarding the organizations’ relationship with respect to fundraising and other development activities. The renewed agreement is for a two-year term.

In his remarks, Interim President Gary G. White said the faculty and staff salary increases originally budgeted to take effect early in 2016 are still on the table pending the December budget reforecast and continued capturing of savings and revenue increases through the university’s Marshall 20/20 process.

White expressed appreciation to all the campus constituent groups involved in Marshall 20/20.

“I want to publicly thank everyone across Marshall University who has helped and will continue to help identify ways to save money and increase revenue,” he said. “They are taking their charge seriously. We are in good and strong financial position and as a community, we intend to maintain that. I appreciate their dedication and significant time commitment to this process.”


White also updated the board about a number of recruitment, retention and marketing initiatives, and provided information about a universitywide space utilization assessment. He said grant awards topped $18 million for the first quarter of the fiscal year.


As the last item on the agenda, the board met in executive session to discuss personnel matters related to the appointment of the university’s new president. When the board reconvened into regular session, they voted to approve an employment term sheet for the appointment of Dr. Jerome A. “Jerry” Gilbert as Marshall’s 37th president. Gilbert currently serves as provost and executive vice president of Mississippi State University. The HEPC is expected to meet Nov. 20 to approve the terms of Gilbert’s contract.