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HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors has begun its review of the university's policies, approving changes to 18 of 98 policies during Thursday's regularly scheduled meeting.

This is just the first set of policies reviewed by the board. All of the policies will be reviewed by the end of December.

The board tackled a portion of financial, academic affairs and general administration policies Thursday, as well as approving revisions to the university's mission statement.

The majority of the changes added clarifying language and updated the policies to better reflect how the university operates in 2019. For example, the travel policy was revised to reflect the pending software updates that will allow all approvals and expenditures to be handled electronically. This will move travel reimbursements from a paper receipt-based system to a trackable electronic system that will reimburse using government standard rates.

Some policies, such as the sexual assault policy and the alcohol policy, did not have changes as they had been amended within the past two years. The board chose to table two policies to allow for more review.

The first is academic affairs policy 42, which deals with the employee dependent tuition assistance program that gives the children of employees essentially free tuition.

Carol Hurula, staff representative, said some staff members had come to her requesting the board look into providing the in-state tuition rate to all employee dependents, regardless of where they live.

Currently, if an employee lives in Chesapeake, Ohio, for example, their child is charged the metro rate and receives credit for the in-state rate. The family has to pay the difference. Hurula said about 10 metro students would be affected.

David Haden moved to table the policy to look into the cost associated with giving an in-state rate.

Shawn Ball floated the idea that it may be an incentive in hiring new employees, but President Jerome Gilbert said it might encourage employees to live outside of Huntington, which is not what the university prefers.

The second tabled policy was general administration policy 5, structure of the board. The recommended revision would eliminate the community college, medical school and athletic standing committees, but board chairman James Bailes said he wants to reinstate the standing athletic committee, particularly in light of the new sports betting laws in West Virginia.

University counsel Layton Cautril said the board had gone away from the additional standing committees because it broke the 13-person board into too many small groups. Bailes said he would not take members off the current financial and academic affairs committees, but ask members to serve on an additional committee that would meet at a separate time.

The policy was tabled to add the standing athletic committee back in.

The policy revisions will now be up for a 30-day comment period. The revisions can be found at http://www.marshall.edu/board/board-of-governors-policies/.

The board also approved revisions to the university's mission statement. David Hatfield, coordinator of university accreditation, said reviewing the mission statement on a "regular basis" is an accreditation requirement.

Plus, it's good practice, Hatfield said.

"We wanted to update it to 2019 to reflect what Marshall University is actually doing," he said.

The statement was revised to say Marshall has a commitment to the ideals previously outlined in the mission.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck @TaylorStuckHD on Twitter and Facebook.

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