WKU Regents Committee Approves CAPE Recommendations, with Full Board Voting in May

Apr 12, 2019

Credit WKU

Recommendations for the future of Western Kentucky University’s 380 academic programs are one step closer to becoming a reality.

The Academic Affairs Committee of the Board of Regents voted Friday in favor of accepting recommendations from the school’s Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation (CAPE) committee.

Two members of the Regents’ Academic Affairs Committee, Chairman Jason McKinney and David Brinkley, voted in favor of the CAPE recommendations, with WKU Faculty Regent Claus Ernst abstaining.

The fourth member of the committee, Student Regent Stephen Mayer, wasn’t present.

The full Board can now take up the CAPE proposal at its meeting on May 10.

The school’s internal review placed academic programs into four different categories: Maintain, Transform, Grow and Enhance, and Suspend.

The CAPE committee, made up primarily of WKU faculty members, has recommended that the majority of academic programs at the school, 209, be maintained in their current form.

The committee wants to suspend 101 programs, 42 of which didn’t have a single student.

According to the university, 615 students (3 percent of WKU’s total enrollment) would be impacted by the suspension of programs. In a presentation made to regents before Friday’s vote Acting Assistant to the WKU Provost, Merral Price, said WKU will “teach out these programs, giving all currently enrolled students a reasonable opportunity to complete their credentials.”

Suspended programs would no longer accept new students as of Aug. 26.

The CAPE committee has recommended 55 programs be transformed, meaning they would be “re-envisioned” in a way that would make them more attractable to future students. Fifteen programs have been put in the Grow/Enhance column. Those areas would receive increased investment in the coming years.

Speaking after the committee vote, Price said faculty members will play a significant role in deciding what happens to academic programs that are slated to be transformed or grown.

“Everything that we do will have to go through the faculty. We are expecting that we’ll be able to start taking curricula actions next spring, with the expectation that we’ll be offering some transformed programs by the fall of 2020.”

Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens said these kinds of comprehensive internal reviews are becoming more common at colleges and universities across the country.

“Especially in this time of fiscal constraint—every university is looking at how they spend their dollars. You have a limited number of dollars—how do you spend those so that you get the best bang for your bank, and you serve the students and you serve the community?”

Stevens, in an email earlier this week to faculty and staff revealing the CAPE recommendations, cited a “declining population of high school students, downturn in the number of international students, and reduced state allocation” as reasons WKU needs “to optimize allocation of scarce resources to promote and support growth.”