WKU Regents Approve $375 Million Budget
The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents has signed off on a budget for the new fiscal year beginning July 1.
In a special meeting on Friday, members approved a $375 million spending plan that includes an increase in tuition for undergraduate students. The Board passed the 2022 fiscal year budget with one dissenting vote from Student Regent Garrett Edmonds.
The budget also permanently removes the distance learning fee on classes taught remotely, which the university says will result in a tuition savings to students of about $2 million.
After holding the line on tuition last year during the pandemic, Regents approved a 2% hike, which will help create about $2 million that will go into a compensation pool for faculty and staff raises. Speaking to reporters following the budget vote, WKU President Timothy Caboni said the university is seeing the effects of salary compression.
"Sometimes it gets so bad, it creates an inversion where those who come in as junior faculty sometimes make more than senior faculty that have been here for a long time", Caboni said.
The budget also includes reductions of $5.8 million. Caboni said the university doesn’t have a budget problem, but an allocation problem.
“We have plenty of dollars from carry forward funds, and savings from previous years to be able to manage through reductions, but we have to make sure those dollars are allocated appropriately, which means shifting resources from one place to another.”
University deans and vice presidents will determine how spending reductions are made. Fifty percent of the reductions will be permanent this year, and 50% next year.
Four years ago, WKU faced a budget deficit of $40 million, but the school expects to have a balanced budget in a couple of years. Tuition and fees make up 48% of the budget with state appropriations accounting for 21%.
Following the budget vote, Regents elected Dr. Phillip Bale of Glasgow as chairman of the board for the next term, replacing outgoing chairman Freddy Higdon.
In other WKU news, the university announced Juneteenth will become an official campus holiday. WKU will be closed on Monday in observance of the newest federal holiday.