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A scene on the downtown campus on March 24, 2021.

The WVU faculty have voted overwhelmingly in favor of a non-binding resolution urging the University mandate the COVID-19 vaccine.

The result of the final vote was 1094 in favor and 185 opposed. Next, the results and resolution will be sent to WVU administrators.

Faculty started a petition last week to call a special meeting of all faculty after University administrators had decided not to mandate the vaccination following full approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by the Food and Drug Administration. 

On Wednesday, the University Assembly, a little-known body of almost every faculty member, met to consider the resolution. The last time this body met it was in 2008 over a master's degree scandal involving then-Gov. Joe Manchin's daughter.

After a lengthy amendment process, the vote was called and faculty members sent a secure online survey to fill out before Thursday at noon. After this, Faculty Senate staff verified all who voted were eligible to vote and the results were announced Friday morning.

The resolution is non-binding and is simply a recommendation for WVU administrators. 

At Wednesday's meeting, WVU President E. Gordon Gee said he believes a vaccine mandate will do more harm than good.

“I do not believe in a mandate for this vaccine, for the COVID-19 vaccine,” Gee said. “Rarely, and this has been proven time and again, do mandates work. And in this current time, I believe that a mandate will only create more division.” 

Rob Alsop, vice president for strategic initiatives, added that a COVID-19 vaccine mandate would cause outcry from some parents of students and possibly legislation from state lawmakers.

In a statement after the vote, University spokesperson April Kaull said the University took a "proactive stance" by requiring masks in classrooms on Aug. 17 and continues to "strongly encourage" vaccination for students and employees.

"We always appreciate and consider input from our campus community," Kaull said. "Ultimately it is an administrative decision made in consultation with our Board of Governors."

Close to three-quarters of students and employees have been vaccinated on the Morgantown campus.

"We are encouraged by the steadily increasing vaccination rates among our students, faculty and staff with our current approach, and importantly, the University’s percent positivity rate is low especially when compared to state and national averages," Kaull said.