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WKU Regents approve new budget and major construction projects

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Western Kentucky University
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WKU Regents approved preserving and renovating Cherry Hall, built in 1937, an iconic campus building.

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents on Friday approved the school’s next budget, which includes increased revenue from the state for several construction projects, as well as continuing efforts to increase faculty and staff salaries.

Of the $383.4 million contained in the new budget, about half of the expenditures are for personnel, including two-percent for cost-of-living and other salary adjustments.

This budget is an $8 million-dollar increase over the previous year.

State funding of $86 million is a nine-percent increase over last year. WKU President Timothy Caboni said that’s a welcome increase.

“The Commonwealth of Kentucky, which understands the crucial importance of higher education to growing the economy, has begun to make investments,” said Caboni. “We have not seen significant investments since 2008 and the Great Recession.”

State performance funding based on attracting, retaining and graduating students brought in $7.8 million for this budget.

Regents approved moving forward with the design and construction of a newGordon Ford College of Business, with $74 million from the state.

Regents also approved preserving and renovating Cherry Hall, with state asset preservation funds of up to $30 million this budget year.

The third major construction project approved is a $35 million Hilltopper Fieldhouse, funded by refinancing existing debt.

The new budget gets nearly half its revenue from tuition. It includes a tuition increase of slightly more than one percent. Caboni said that brings tuition to what he described as a still-very affordable $5,500 per semester.

“If you look at our competitor institutions, and our net cost, which also takes into account financial aid, we’re comparatively much less expensive than the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville, our two main competitors in the state,” said Caboni.

State appropriations include $2.8 million for LifeWorks, a residential transition-to-work program for young adults on the autism spectrum.

Kentucky Mesonet, the climate and weather network, got $1.75 million in state funding for this year’s budget.