HUNTINGTON — The Marshall University Board of Governors has set the process for selecting the 38th president of the university.
President Jerome Gilbert announced in April that he will not seek an extension of his contract, which triggered the search. The board approved the process following an executive session during its regular board meeting Thursday.
The board hopes to have a search firm selected by the beginning of July and then begin listening sessions with campus constituencies to compile a Presidential Search Profile. Candidate interviews will begin in the fall.
The goal is to have a new president selected by the end of October. Gilbert will serve out his contract until July 2022.
Patrick Farrell, board chairman, said board members want the selection process to be the most transparent search ever done at the university. The plan is posted online at www.marshall.edu/presidential-search/. Feedback can be left on the site.
The board also elected Farrell to continue to serve as board chairman for another year. Toney Stroud will serve as vice chairman and Bill Smith as secretary. Sandra Thomas abstained from voting.
The 2021-22 budget was also approved Thursday. The updated budget from April includes just under $500,000 in additional projected tuition and fees.
Sherri Smith, associate provost, said out-of-state student enrollment is up 19.4% and metro student enrollment is up 8.8% so far for the fall. Though in-state student enrollment is down, the large increase in students who pay more in tuition has bridged the gap for the budget.
Mark Robinson, chief financial officer, said the budget is “a little aggressive” but the university can fall back on federal stimulus funding from the pandemic if enrollment doesn’t pan out as predicted. It is currently using $5.7 million to balance the budget.
Smith said in-state enrollment is down because the main recruitment method used for these students is visiting high schools, and when schools closed, so did those recruitment efforts.
The university will also use some of the stimulus to aid recruitment efforts. Robinson said he hopes there will still be stimulus left over for the 2023 budget.
In other business, board members approved an intent to plan a Bachelor of Science in psychology degree. A student survey indicated the need for the degree for those students who want to use their undergraduate degree to pursue certain graduate degrees like medical school. Robert Bookwalter, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said both programs will have robust enrollment.
Additionally, the board approved that the Master of Science in Technology Management be moved from the College of Engineering and Computer Sciences to the Lewis College of Business.
The School of Aviation is on track for a ribbon cutting at Yeager Airport in August, reported Gilbert. Bill Noe also reported they will have the third and fourth single-engine craft by the middle of 2022. Following that, the university will purchase a new multiengine plane.
The university is also working on a memorandum of understanding with West Virginia State University to provide campus services like residence halls and dining to students of the aviation program. From the beginning, it has been a priority to provide a true college experience for the aviation students, despite them being off campus at the airport.
Brandi Jacobs-Jones, vice president of operations, said they are still figuring out what the student base will look like and what their needs will be. If there are more 18-year-old, “traditional” college students, the campus experience will be more important. But Jacobs-Jones said it is also possible students may be older and choose to rent in the area or be local students who can commute.