Five steps for improving Marshall University

Interim President Gary G. White’s State of the University Address in Washington D.C. Tuesday addressed his five areas of improvement for the university moving forward.

The accreditation of Marshall University is the university’s first goal. That process will be completed this academic year.

“We have every reason to believe that accreditation will occur and that is our first priority in terms of academics and research,” White said.

Financial improvement is the second area the interim president focused on. Marshall’s 20/20 plan was at the forefront of the address.

After a retreat last Thursday to hear the final reports of each of the committees and the projects that they worked on throughout the past year, Marshall University is now in the implementation phase, which will begin in July. The recommendations that the rapid response team made will be implemented as quickly as possible.

Those recommendations amount to savings that are a little less than $3 million.

Spans and Layers is another part of the 20/20 plan. It’s an analysis of the organizational structure of Marshall University and White said hebelieves between now and 2020, which was the target set by the late President Stephen J. Kopp, there is another $2.5 million to be achieved though better alignment of the university’s organizational structure.

The Bucks for Brains program that the West Virginia Legislature put in place a few years ago would allow Marshall University to be matched dollar-for-dollar by private contributions to fund research, which is another goal of the university.

The 20/20 plan, along with the new zero-based budget model that will be submitted for approval by the board next week, will create a more fiscally responsible university according to White.

“We will be looking at a new focus on how we budget and how we manage the financial affairs at Marshall University,” White said. “This is something that has to change for higher education across this nation and I’d like to think that Marshall University is on the leading edge of that.”

A change in the marketing strategy is exactly what White is looking for. Marshall University will soon be awarding a contract to a new professional firm to provide research and professional guidance as the university embarks on a new plan.

“We need a new way to tell the Marshall story better than we’ve told it before,” White said. “To highlight accomplishments that happen here every day that folks are not aware of.”

The State of the University Address also focused on student recruitment and retention. The interim president said hebelieves bringing more students to Marshall and retaining the students already attending will positively affect revenues.

The fifth element of the plan is to establish a mechanism to measure how well the university is doing in those four areas. Each of those goals will be an objective measurement. The university wants to have very clear and very objective criteria that will be set.

“Folks in athletics will tell you that it only matters if you keep score, so we are going to be keeping score,” White said.

Emily Wood, a senior at Marshall University, attended the State of the University Address. She said it was an honor to listen to White and other speakers.

“It was such a great feeling to be in the same room as all of the people who work so hard to make Marshall University the best decision ever for everyone,” Wood said. “Listening to remarks made by our states’ congressional delegation, the Huntington mayor, Marshall University’s coaches and Gary White really puts everything into perspective of how great of a community we have at Marshall University.”

White said hewants all students to understand that Marshall is alive and doing very well.

“In the interim until a new president is chosen, we are not simply allowing ourselves to be lulled into a status quo,” White said. “Not only do we want to keep Marshall moving forward we want to accelerate its move forward.”

The address was well attended by alumni, the West Virginia Congressional Delegation and their staff.

Britanie Morgan can be contacted at [email protected]