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Caboni Tells WKU Staff Everyone Has to Do More to Attract, Retain, Graduate Students

Becca Schimmel

The man picked to be Western Kentucky University’s next president says every employee’s mission must be to help students attain a degree.

Timothy Caboni is holding forums with WKU staff, faculty, and students Thursday. A forum for community members is being held Thursday from 5-6:30 p.m. at the Augenstein Alumni Center.

The school’s presidential search committee announced last week that Caboni was their “preferred candidate” to be WKU’s tenth president.

Caboni told staff members that declining state support for higher education means it’s even more important to recruit and retain quality students.

“I don’t care what it is you do every day, I’m going to tell you today what your job is: it’s to make sure that every student that we admit finishes a degree in four years," Caboni said.

Caboni, the vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas, said WKU employees have to create an environment of support that will keep struggling students from dropping out. He said that's especially the case when it comes to explaining the fine details of enrollment, tuition, and aid programs.

“I think we have to be as clear as we possibly can be, as accessible as we possibly can be, and as simple as we can be—particularly for folks who are not as used to the whole lingo of financial aid and college cost," Caboni said.

About 400 employees attended the staff forum with Caboni Thursday.

One of those in attendance was Lynne Hazlett, director of Student Academic Services in the College of Health and Human Services, who said WKU has been asking its employees to do more with less funding for too long.

“We’ve seen a dramatic cut in student support programs and when you think about ‘retention in key’, the services that we need to provide and the resources we need to actually provide to students for them to be successful are the first things to be chopped off the block.”

Caboni also said during his forum with staff members that a major goal of the university is to help local businesses create high-paying jobs that attract WKU graduates.

The board of regents is scheduled to vote Friday on whether to officially offer Caboni the WKU presidential post.

The award-winning news team at WKU Public Radio consists of Dan Modlin, Kevin Willis, Lisa Autry, and Joe Corcoran.
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