Higher Education

Rhonda J. Miller

The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents at its meeting Friday reported a positive annual evaluation of President Timothy Caboni. 

Chairman Dr. Philip Bale said that while many American colleges and universities face uncertain futures, Caboni has led WKU with sound fiscal leadership and a focus on making student success a priority. 

“Under President Caboni’s leadership, our university is now better positioned to harness our available resources, utilize our collective imaginations, and create an environment that fosters student success and well-being in a higher education world full of transformation,” said Bale.

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A state lawmaker from Bowling Green is taking a second shot at convincing the General Assembly to pass a comprehensive student loan reform bill.

The measure pre-filed for the 2022 legislative session by Democratic Rep. Patti Minter would ban deceptive practices by student loan providers, and increase oversight of the student loan industry.

The same bill failed to pass during this year’s session.

Minter said her time as a history professor at Western Kentucky University has given her insight into how predatory lenders target desperate students. She told WKU Public Radio a former student she knows who’s been out of school for ten years is a cautionary tale.

“They've only paid $700 in 10 years toward the principle of the loan. The rest is interest,” Rep. Minter said. “Because what this person had done, without knowing it, was to sign up for a predatory, adjustable interest rate student loan that literally they’re paying nothing but interest for years.”

Western Kentucky University

The fall semester begins Monday on the campus of Western Kentucky University. 

As new students ground themselves in their new home, Terrance Brown is doing the same as the new dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters.

Brown is from a small town in Alabama and comes to WKU from the University of North Alabama in Florence. He served as the Founding Executive Director of the School of Arts. 

Brown says joining the Hilltopper family wasn’t exactly a planned move. 

“It just came out of the blue that this position was open, and one of my mentors encouraged me to apply, and I did so,” he explained.


Clinton Lewis

Following a year-and-a-half of disruptions brought on by COVID-19, Western Kentucky University hit the reset button on Monday by looking ahead to the new academic year. 

President Timothy Caboni delivered the annual opening convocation to faculty and staff.  Although a much sparser crowd than in typical years filed into Van Meter Hall for the speech, it was a return to something closer to normal.  The annual address was delivered virtually last year.  This year, those wanting to hear the speech could do so either in person or online.

Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, President Caboni applauded the campus for still delivering classes, conducting research, and providing what he described as the WKU experience.

“You responded to the pandemic challenges by innovating and evolving your instruction to meet the moment," Caboni said. "Those changes enabled our students to succeed.”

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Kentucky’s workforce diversity is growing, but there are still significant incomes disparities between racial and ethnic groups, according to a new report by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE). 

Black, Asian, and Hispanic workers in the state earn less than white workers over a lifetime, even with an advance college degree. The Council’s president said that in some cases, minority workers need to work two lifetimes to match the income of a white peer. 

“These inequities betray our values as a state and diminish the hard work of too many Kentuckians,” said CPE President Aaron Thompson in a press release. “If we want to encourage college-going and build a workforce for the future, we need to make sure all workers receive the financial rewards that befit their education.”


Lisa Autry

Western Kentucky University will offer this fall’s freshman class a new living-learning community aimed at keeping them on a path toward graduation. 

Members of the media were given a tour on Tuesday of the new First Year Village at the south end of campus.  It includes two new residence halls constructed unlike typical dormitories.

Normal Hall and Regents Hall will both contain ten pods of 15-25 students each, housing more than half of the incoming freshmen this fall.  WKU President Timothy Caboni says students will live in small groups with other classmates who share similar majors and interests.

“What we know is that students don’t succeed alone," Caboni said. "They’re most successful when they’re surrounded by support systems from their advisors, instructors, and staff to their roommates, classmates, and student organization peers.”

A left-leaning public policy group in Kentucky says a student loan debt plan from President Biden would have a huge impact on the state’s college graduates. 

new analysis from the Kentucky Center for Economic Policy finds that 80 percent of Kentucky student loan borrowers could have all of their loans forgiven if a plan becomes a reality. 

Student loan forgiveness has been on Biden’s agenda since announcing his presidential bid. Because of the increased attention to the student debt crisis, the president is reportedly working to clarify his power to cancel up to $50,000 in student loan debt. Originally, his goal was to cancel $10,000 in student loan debt.


Western Kentucky University

Western Kentucky University has announced a program aimed at buying out certain workers who want to end their employment. The goal is to adjust the school’s operating budget.

In an email sent to faculty and staff Wednesday, WKU executives said the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program is to “make appropriate workforce  adjustments and create opportunities for organizational renewal and invention.” 

WKU leaders said the incentives for separation or retirement are a result of “the COVID-19 pandemic, declining state support, enrollment changes and other evolving dynamics affecting higher education.”

Becca Schimmel

Students in the seven states that border Kentucky will soon be able to attend Western Kentucky University at in-state tuition rates.

The school announced Thursday that starting next fall, in-state tuition rates will be offered to residents of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

WKU currently offers in-state tuition rates to residents of a few counties in neighboring states, mostly in northern Tennessee and southern Indiana. 

WKU also announced Thursday it will offer in-state tuition rates to the children and grandchildren of school alumni, regardless of what state they live in.

Lisa Autry

Western Kentucky University is taking another step toward increasing access and affordability for low-income students. 

President Timothy Caboni announced a new initiative on Thursday called the Hilltopper Guarantee. Starting next fall, WKU will be tuition-free to any first-year students from Kentucky who receive Pell Grants and have at least a 3.0 high school GPA.  

“This is a tremendous promise to the young people of this state, that we can guarantee if you’re from a low-income family but you’re a high achiever, a four-year degree from WKU is in your future," Caboni said.

Dr. Deborah Birx Stops In Lexington To Discuss College Coronavirus Cases

Sep 15, 2020
Corinne Boyer | Ohio Valley ReSource

White House-appointed Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx visited the Lexington campus of the University of Kentucky on Monday as concerns grow over an escalating number of positive cases on campuses around the region. 

Dr. Birx met with students, faculty and administrators on the UK campus, which has more than 400 active COVID-19 cases, 86 of those confirmed since late last week.

She says hearing from multiple colleges to learn about their coronavirus plans will help determine what measures keep students safe.  

“We’re right now consolidating all of that information so that we can get that out to universities across the United States,” Birx said. “So they understand what it takes to open and stay open successfully, and what it takes to protect both the students and the communities where these universities are.”

WKU

New research shows the number of Kentucky high school students enrolling in dual credit courses has increased more than 75 percent in recent years. Higher education leaders see dual credit as an effective gateway into college.

The dual credit program allows high school students to enroll in college courses at their high school, nearby college, or online, and receive credit that counts toward high school and college completion.

A report from the Council on Postsecondary Education measured the impact of dual credit on student success at public, four-year universities.  It's the first comprehensive study since Kentucky launched a statewide dual credit policy and scholarship program in 2016 to improve participation.

College Towns Feel Financial Impact Of Pandemic

Sep 8, 2020
Aaron Payne | Ohio Valley ReSource

The first day of classes at Ohio University is subdued this year. A few students walk across the Athens, Ohio, campus wearing masks. A group sits, socially distanced, on blankets on the green.

The university opted to bring back roughly 2,000 students to campus for the first weeks of the semester due to coronavirus concerns.

The remaining 10,000 or so students are learning remotely in Phase 1 of the school’s reopening plan. They’ll wait until September 8 to find out if they will be eligible to return in Phase 2.

 


Freshman Taylor Vibbert has always wanted to be in a sorority. When she signed up to rush this fall at Western Kentucky University, she was looking forward to the fanfair, house tours and meet-and-greets.

Then she got some bad news: Greek recruitment would be mostly virtual this year.

"That was a bummer," the 18-year-old from Louisville, Ky., said in early August. "Honestly, if I would have known, I probably wouldn't have signed up."

Vibbert was concerned she would be more outgoing in-person than over the computer, but she was willing to see how it goes.

WKU

Western Kentucky University has announced that it will no longer require standardized test scores, like the ACT and SAT, from most applicants for admission.

That change goes into effect beginning with the spring 2021 semester.

The university said it began considering such a change last year, and in the meantime has consulted “internal constituencies” that endorsed the move.

WKU Vice President for Enrollment and Student Experience Ethan Logan said in a statement Friday the school looked at multiple national studies indicating that a student’s high school grade point average is a better predictor of collegiate success than standardized testing scores.

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