The Fairmont State University Board of Governors met on Thursday, February 17, with representatives from the Board and the Fairmont State Executive Leadership Team convening both in the Falcon Center and virtually.
Representatives from the Suttle & Stalnaker Certified Public Accountant firm, Kelly Shafer and Sarah Crouse, were also in attendance. Shafer and Crouse joined the meeting virtually to reaffirm the results of the University’s annual audit presented in December. This was in response to recent inaccurate accusations by West Virginia State Senator, Bob Beach.
“There was nothing that would give us any concern about the financial stability of the University,” Shafer said. “One thing that I’d like to point out is the University did have a very strong net position at the end of fiscal year 2021, particularly an unrestricted net position.”
Shafer explained that an unrestricted net position that exceeds 10% of annual operating expenses is a benchmark to review when evaluating the overall strength of an institution’s financial position.
“The University has been well over that benchmark for the last several years,” Shafer added. “I think overall the financial position is strong and there are no concerns that we have from an audit perspective.”
Fairmont State University Chief Financial Officer, Christa Kwiatkowski, also provided updates from the Board of Governors Finance Committee in which the unrestricted, auxiliary and restricted budgets were reported as of December 31, 2021 and approved by the Board.
During Kwiatkowski’s update she also highlighted figures presented at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission Board Meeting on December 10, indicating Fairmont State’s Composite Financial Index is currently 5.07, earning the ranking of the highest CFI among four-year higher education institutions throughout the State of West Virginia. The WVHEPC also reported Fairmont State had 270 days cash on hand as of June 30, 2021, also the highest among four-year higher education institutions in the state. Kwiatkowski noted the University finished fiscal year 2021 with an unrestricted net position of $21M, which is $15M in excess over 10% of its operating expenses, indicating a strong financial position.
Updates from the Academic Affairs, Athletic Affairs, Bylaws, Enrollment, Housing & Student Life and Executive Committees were also provided. In addition, Fairmont State University President, Mirta M. Martin, along with Fairmont State Foundation President, Gary Bennett, each gave president’s reports.
Prior to the committee and president’s reports, the Board moved to engage in an executive session to discuss the potential remerge with Pierpont Community & Technical College, pending current legislation in the West Virginia House of Delegates and State Senate. After the session concluded, Fairmont State University Board of Governors Chairman, David Goldberg, reported there were no actions taken during the session.
“If the legislation is approved, it's very important that we have a stable Pierpont and a stable Fairmont State moving through this, so that our students, our faculty and our staff have continuity, and we make this as seamless as possible. The advisory committee and other parties would sit down and review where we have opportunity, and a lot of that is infrastructure costs, not even touching programs. But that's an opportunity for us to move forward over the next few months and into the year,” Goldberg said.
He also went on the record to say, “There will be no reductions or immediate changes in staffing as we begin the integration process. We need all our colleagues to maintain our programs and support of students.”
Afterwards, a motion was made in support of legislation introduced to the House and Senate today. Both bills contain the same language and are focused on the creation of the Pierpont College of Community & Technical Education that would be housed within Fairmont State. The motion was carried by the Board.
The next full Board of Governors meeting will take place on Thursday, April 21 in the Falcon Center. For more information, visit www.fairmontstate.edu/bog.