Recently, West Virginia University announced program and staff cuts intended to reduce the university’s $45 million debt. One of the programs on the cutting block is the Landscape Architecture program, which currently offers both Bachelor and Masters degrees. Cuts to the Plant and Soil Science Department include slashing the staff members from 21 to ten.
WVNLA has provided significant support and financial assistance to both these programs through the years, largely because we support green industry careers and professionalism throughout the state. WVNLA registered strong disapproval of the proposed cuts in a letter to WVU administrators and the provost office.
The Association is also circulating a petition seeking support for continuation of the Landscape Architecture and Plant and Soil Science education and outreach programs. Press releases to multiple media outlets have been published and radio and television interviews on the topic have been requested and granted.
The WVNLA letter cited strong industry and home state support for the WVU academic programs. “As the state’s flagship, land-grant university, WVU should be supporting the enrollment of in-state students, not driving them away,” said WVNLA executive director Julie Robinson. “These students are not likely to return to West Virginia, to the detriment of in-state engineering, architecture and landscape companies who would employ them.”
In the last ten years, WVNLA has contributed in excess of $60,000 to the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs for student travel for national competitions and horticultural tours throughout Europe; the development of a master landscape plan for the Evansdale campus as designed by Landscape Architecture students; and a book scholarship, among other projects.
WVNLA’s board members voted to fund these projects because they believe these programs provide vital experiences and education for students in the Landscape Architecture and Horticulture programs. These graduates go on to create designs which landscape and engineering companies use to create effective, safe and attractive spaces throughout West Virginia and beyond. These projects also provide employment opportunities.
In the last ten years, WVNLA has also provided 16 scholarships for LARC and Horticulture at WVU. The total of these scholarships was $65,000.
WVNLA’s members urge WVU officials to reconsider the proposal to remove the Landscape Architecture program and hobble the Plant and Soil Sciences program. The green industry in West Virginia deserves better.