West Virginia University issues a statement in response to this letter on Thursday. That statement is available here.

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, issued a letter on Wednesday to the West Virginia University Board of Governors to “protest the catastrophic cuts at the state’s flagship institution.”

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) is a union that represents 1.72 million teachers across the country. In her letter, Weingarten focused on WVU’s status as the only R1 research university in West Virginia and how she and the AFT felt that the proposed cuts “raised fundamental questions about WVU’s commitment to its students, its surrounding community and the state.”

Weingarten said that in recent years, the current administration at WVU engaged in “foolhardy, debt-funded construction projects based on faulty enrollment projections” amid shrinking state support for higher education. She also said that when students, faculty members and local business owners questioned these decisions, WVU’s president “doubled down, driving the institution further into peril.”

“Simply put, West Virginia’s students are being priced out of attending their flagship institution. Those who will be able to attend will receive an education that is now being impaired by drastic cuts—yet they will be expected to compete with graduates of other R1 institutions in surrounding states,” Weingarten said. “This amounts to a broken promise to the people of
West Virginia and will contribute to the state’s brain drain.”

Amid Weingarten’s criticism of WVU’s administration, her letter provides a solution to the school’s financial situation that does not involve cutting programs and faculty.

“Rather than proceeding with cuts that disrupt students mid-degree, weaken the economy of the local community and the state, and undermine the university’s mission and standing as a premier research institution, the board of governors, together with the university administration, should advocate for increased state support to make up the projected budget shortfall in the short term and to adequately fund WVU going forward,” Weingarten said.

You can read Weingarten’s full letter to West Virginia University’s Board of Governors by clicking here.

12 News has reached out to West Virginia University for comment but has yet to receive a reply.