Marshall’s President Smith highlights the university’s areas that need to be improved

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Marshall President Brad Smith says the university is doing well, but there are areas that need to be improved.

At a Board of Governors meeting last week, Smith started by speaking about “The Big Five,” which includes strategic enrollment management, pricing, student experience, digital marketing and a distinct strategy.

He added that the university hired a firm to review the pay gap between faculty.

“We consulted with an outside firm to come in and look at our pay practices and make sure we had no unintentional discriminatory practices, I reported out the last time we found no systemic bias, but we did find 80 individuals whose pay variances we could not explain based on experience, so we made changes to their pay in December,” he said.

The firm has now been contracted to return every two years to maintain equity.

Smith said he feels optimistic about the university’s legislative and economic development.

“With the legislature, we’ve been very clear about the priorities that we are focused on, and we have aligned these priorities with our peers and higher-ed; we went in this legislative session is accessible, affordable education, Marshall for all,” he said. “We are amid a very busy Charleston; Our hard-working elected officials have put forth 2200 bills – 65 of which are directly affecting education. “Throughout the year, we have actively engaged with our elected representative. We’ve partnered closely with them to advance the prosperity in this status.”

Smith added that the areas of needed improvement are student enrollment, fiscal performance, fostering a culture of transparency, Title IX practices and executive ideas.

“Our fall enrollment finished down almost 3% despite metro growing, despite online growing, and despite our student retention, those who come to school are staying in class, all going in the right direction,” he said.

“We have $305 million in revenue and $330 million in expense; that’s not the model we need, so we have a game place in place to strengthen our financial resiliency,” he said.

“We have to work on culture transparency and trust; I hope you are feeling and experiencing, we’re openly communicating where we are, facts are friendly even if you don’t like the story,” he said.

“With Title IX, it becomes clear that we have process, empathy and expediency issues that we need to address; I will tell you I am delighted with the work that’s being driven by the Title IX task force, the majority of whom are students,” he said.

Smith also pointed out positives with the athletic department in Athletic Director Christian Spears.

“Christian Spears has brought vision and energy in for our athletic department, he’s recruited top talent, he’s increased fan engagement, he’s building better experienced for our student-athletes who in return are massing wins, we are creating new revenue streams,” he said. “All of this while transitioning to a very competitive conference, also, by the way, getting a new baseball stadium built.”

Smith believes Marshall has made significant progress.

“I think we’ve made meaning progress against “The Big Five” that over regret decisions, we are increasingly embracing a one Marshall mindset, we are at the table with the legislature and with economic development opportunities, we are re-imagining our academic student, our student-athlete and our fan experience,” he said. “We still have heavy lifting ahead with enrollment, strengthening our financial position, improving the culture of transparency of culture and trust, becoming the gold standard for Title IX and accelerating our ability to move with speed and agility.”

Story by Chayce Matheny