Western Kentucky University President Timothy Caboni says the first year of his tenure wasn’t what he envisioned as financial challenges forced the school to make difficult decisions through reorganizations and layoffs.
"I can't tell you how proud I am of the way our campus responded. And yes, we bent as a university, but we did not break," Caboni said.
As a new academic year gets underway, Dr. Caboni outlined his priorities in the annual Convocation to faculty and staff on Friday.
WKU recently adopted a new strategic plan that will guide the school for the next decade. The plan 'Climbing to Greater Heights' is centered around retaining and graduating more students. WKU has changed its admissions policy to be more selective toward applicants and more focused on providing support to students at risk of not completing their degrees.
"This entering class has the highest average GPA at 3.39 and the highest average ACT score at 23.2 of any freshman class in WKU's history," stated Caboni.
First announced at the Investiture ceremony in April, the WKU Opportunity Fund is one of President Caboni's initiatives outlined in the strategic plan. The WKU Opportunity Fund will support recruitment, retention, and experiences for students beyond the classroom and remove barriers through needs-based financial assistance. The university has a goal of raising $50 million for the initiative.
Marking the first announcement for the WKU Opportunity Fund, President Caboni announced a two-year, $450,000 grant from the James Graham Brown Foundation of Louisville. The grant will support the creation of a center on campus to support retention and persistence efforts.
Also during Friday's speech at Van Meter Hall, Dr. Caboni announced a bachelor's degree program in Workforce Administration. The entirely onlin program is for adult learners who already have an associate of science degree. The program will allow them to complete a bachelor's degree in 15 months for $7,500.
Dr. Caboni also committed to faculty and staff a two percent salary increase on January 1 and up to a four percent merit increase.