ISSUED: 29 June 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens
SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University is the first West Virginia public four-year institution to request and receive certain administrative exemptions from the state’s Higher Education Policy Commission (HEPC) under legislation passed earlier this year.
During its June 26 meeting, the HEPC voted to grant the administratively exempted status, which eliminates oversight for capital improvement projects, institutional mission, academic program approval, rules for the Board of Governors in filling vacancies in the office of the president, and rules governing and controlling acquisitions and purchases. Shepherd will no longer need HEPC approval for capital improvement projects, approval of lease-purchase agreements for capital improvements and equipment, or approval of real estate transactions, lease-purchase, and new building construction.
“This is a proud moment for Shepherd, where the accomplishments of our faculty, staff, and students have qualified us to join the HEPC-exempt category with WVU, Marshall University, and the West Virginia Osteopathic School, allowing us to move more quickly in our academic programming and business transactions,” said Shepherd University President Mary J.C. Hendrix. “We thank the HEPC commissioners for believing in us and we look forward to continuing our good working relationship with the HEPC on various other initiatives where our collective synergies advance all institutions.”
To apply for the administrative exemptions, a four-year college or university must meet three of five criteria—a three-year average graduation rate of not less than 45 percent, a three-year average retention rate of not less than 60 percent, a three-year head count enrollment increase, or a decrease of not more than five percent, a three-year average of not less than 50 days cash reserve, and a Composite Financial Index indicator of not less than one.
Shepherd meets four of the five criteria, with a graduation rate of 47.9 percent, retention rate of 68.6 percent, headcount enrollment declines of less than one percent, and an average of more than 80 days of cash reserve, using the HEPC’s model for calculating this financial measure.
The West Virginia legislature passed Senate Bill 760 during the 2020 regular session, giving public four-year institutions the ability to ask the HEPC for oversight exemptions if they meet the designated criteria. WVU, Marshall, and the West Virginia Osteopathic School maintain broader exemptions from HEPC oversight under legislation passed three years ago. The new law requires the commission to consider three-year-average performance to ensure institutions are evaluated on a trending basis.
“Shepherd will work diligently to maintain the HEPC exempt status—as we establish stronger public-private partnerships for economic growth and new training opportunities,” Hendrix said. “Our perseverance was rewarded, and we are grateful for the help of our supporters who facilitated this outcome.”
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