HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors on Thursday approved a $40,000 salary increase for President Jerome Gilbert, who had previously declined raises when they were granted to faculty and staff the past two years.

“We are proud of the direction he is taking the university, and we want him here for a long time,” said board chairman James Bailes.

Gilbert’s contract was extended by the board in 2017. It ends July 15, 2022. The decision to increase Gilbert’s salary came after an executive session.

Four new board members were also sworn in Thursday by Cabell County Circuit Court Judge Chris Chiles. Board members Sandra Thomas and Bill Noe joined new student body representative Stephanie Rogner and faculty representative Professor Dan Holbrook in pledging to serve the university. Chris Miller, the third new board member, was unable to attend Thursday’s meeting.

The new members will serve a four-year term, ending in 2023.

In the executive session, the board also discussed a potential joint resolution between the Marshall BOG and the West Virginia University BOG, Bailes said. The goal of the resolution is to have the two largest universities in West Virginia working more closely together to bring economic development to the state.

Bailes said Marshall had sent a version of the resolution to WVU, but WVU BOG members reduced the content of the resolution to an unsatisfactory level for Marshall. The board will continue to discuss the potential resolution going forward.

During the regular portion of the meeting, the board heard an update on the numerous construction and renovation projects occurring on campus from Senior Vice President for Operations Brandi Jacobs-Jones.

The renovation of the lobby of the Memorial Student Center is ongoing — even causing a brief fire alarm during the meeting. Jacobs-Jones said the completion date is set for mid-November, with an emphasis on having the majority of the work done before the Nov. 14 plane crash memorial ceremony.

Work will begin in November to replace the elevator in the Cam Henderson Center. Work should be completed by the start of basketball season.

Marshall Health is looking to build a 15th Street parking garage located between Charleston and Columbia avenues with some help from Cabell Huntington Hospital. The additional parking is necessary as the Health Science Campus continues to grow. Marshall Health will apply for tax-exempt bonds to secure a construction loan. No timetable has been set for this project.

The university is also conducting a feasibility study to build a residence hall on the South Charleston campus for students in the new School of Aviation. The university will also begin the process of applying for grants to build the new hangar at Yeager Airport and to purchase flight simulation equipment.

Gilbert said the final paperwork to get the aviation program approved will be submitted this semester. The university is continuing to work with Southern Utah University, but may also have the chance to partner with the FlightSafety Academy in Florida thanks to the connections of new board member Bill Noe.

In other business, the board approved 15 revised board policies, including the policy regarding intercollegiate athletics. The policy changes were mainly minor changes to reflect current practices.

The athletic policy was adapted to reflect the reformation of a Board of Governors athletic committee. The policy is made more concise, and spells out the duties of the board, the committee, the president and the director of athletics in maintaining a Division 1 athletic program.

The board chose to postpone action on the policy regarding naming of buildings. Board member Gary White said after the board’s recent experience with Jenkins Hall, he would like the policy to more clearly state how to analyze decisions of previous boards.

During the meeting, the board also heard the following information items:

n Gilbert will join representatives from the West Virginia Department of Commerce and Appalachian Power on a 10-day trip to Japan and Korea beginning Sept. 22. The purpose of the trip will be to find new research opportunities, businesses that may want to locate to West Virginia and to recruit new students. In Japan, Gilbert said they will take part in an aerospace conference, and in Korea they will meet with a biomedical company, an automotive company and three universities.

n The university is hiring an ombudsman to serve the community. The ombudsman will give advice on how to resolve issues facing staff, and also do outreach in the community. A final decision on the hire should come in the next week.

n Marshall will continue to host the Governor’s School for the Arts for the next three years after three successful years of the high school camp.

n While a final number won’t come until the end of the semester, Provost Jaime Taylor said it is looking like freshman enrollment is 4% to 5% higher than last year.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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