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WKU Board of Regents votes to approve 2024-2025 budget amid contentious session

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents voted to approve the schools 2024-2025 operating budget during a specially called budget session.

The $394.2 million budget was passed on a 8-3 vote. It includes a 2% raise to student tuition, a 2% increase in a salary pool for faculty and staff. The plan also includes a university-wide budget realignment that asks departments and university programs to operate at 92.5% of their total annual budget and a 10% overhead fee on campus auxiliary and revenue-dependent departments. The budget is 1% higher than the 2024 budget.

During the nearly two hour meeting, several members of the board expressed skepticism toward the budget which was prepared by WKU President Timothy Caboni, University Provost Bud Fischer and Executive Vice President for Strategy, Operations and Finance Susan Howarth.

Faculty Regent Shane Spiller said he’s concerned the budget realignment is a further step away from faculty and staff needs.

“I understand there is a need to fix the issues we have,” Spiller said. “However, as someone who has been on this campus since 2007, 2008. I think we've been in a budget realignment, budget reduction, budget cut since 2010. There’s not a whole lot of fat left. The reality is people are buying their own supplies and bringing them in.”

The 7.5% spending cut will be applied to help alleviate university overspending, something the university has dealt with since 2005, according to Caboni. That was when the process of “carry forward” was implemented by the University. Carry forward is a process which passes on unobligated funds remaining at the end of one budget cycle to be carried forward to any subsequent budget period.

WKU President Timothy Caboni said each university dean will be tasked with applying the new budget.

“We’re asking our deans to be conservative to ensure that we’re able to meet the goals of the institution by not overspending,” Caboni said.

In the 8-3 vote, the faculty, staff and student regents all voted against the proposed 2025 budget.

The new budget will go into effect July 1st.

Jacob Martin is a Reporter at WKU Public Radio. He joined the newsroom from Kansas City, where he covered the city’s underserved communities and general assignments at NPR member station, KCUR. A Louisville native, he spent seven years living in Brooklyn, New York before moving back to Kentucky. Email him at Jacob.martin@wku.edu.