Higher Education

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.

Clinton Lewis | WKU

Monday marked the first day of the fall semester at Western Kentucky University.

Like schools across the country, COVID-19 safety precautions and restrictions are in place, and WKU students have been given choices on attending classes in-person, or studying remotely.

Just ahead of the start of the semester, WKU President Timothy Caboni spoke to WKU Public Radio about the school’s approach to conducting the elements of higher education amid a pandemic.


Lisa Autry

Ahead of Monday’s reopening, leaders at Western Kentucky University have their fingers on the launch button for what’s being called the Big Red Restart.  The campus is coming back to life after in-person learning was canceled due to the coronavirus.

"Did you guys get everything out of the car?," asks Anna Tranter. "The refrigerator? What about the microwave? Oh, it's right there."

Tranter is moving into a residence hall at WKU, a rite of passage for thousands of incoming freshmen.  She’s from the northern Kentucky town of Edgewood, and plans to major in fashion merchandising.  Her family is helping her move into her room on the 6th floor of Minton Hall.


As he has said many times before, the leader of Western Kentucky University is reiterating the upcoming school year will be unlike any other in the school’s history.

During an online forum with faculty and staff on Monday, President Timothy Caboni fielded questions concerning how the campus will operate under the coronavirus pandemic.

"There is no risk-free environment," stated Caboni. "There will be COVID cases on this campus and our job is to identify them, isolate them, contract trace them as quickly as we can."

WKU

All of Kentucky’s public universities will open up with some form of in-person instruction in August, but will also give students the option to take classes online.

Each school has a slightly different plan for reopening—only the University of Kentucky plans to test all students on its campus at the beginning of the academic year—but all of the institutions will require masks and social distancing and conduct contact tracing.

“I want to make it uncool to walk around without a mask,” said University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi during a conference call hosted by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on Friday.

WKU

The Trump Administration this week announced international students holding F-1 visas would have to return to their home countries if they do not attend in-person classes this fall.

The move took many in higher education by surprise, including Western Kentucky University Associate Provost for Global Learning and International Affairs, John Sunnygard.

In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Sunnygard discussed how he found out about the change.


WKU

Kentucky’s public universities and colleges suffered a $145 million hit from coronavirus-related expenses and declining revenues, a top state education official said Wednesday.

The financial loss represents 17% of the money state lawmakers put towards funding higher education during the budget for the last fiscal year, which ended on June 30.

Aaron Thompson, president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education predicted during a legislative hearing on Wednesday that enrollment and revenue from events and tuition will continue to be down in the coming academic year.

WKU

The Board of Regents at Western Kentucky University has passed a budget that trims $27 million in costs, amid uncertainty from the coronavirus.

WKU is expecting its largest freshman class in 18 years this fall, which would have helped offset an overall decline in enrollment and tuition, but the school had to make further budget adjustments once the pandemic hit in March.

The 2020-21 budget approved in a special called meeting on Friday includes salary reductions for faculty and staff earning more than $50,000 annually, as well as freezes on travel and hiring.  The budget of more than $353 million represents a nine percent decline over the previous spending plan.

WKU

Western Kentucky University will not use faculty and staff salary reductions to balance its budget for the 2021 fiscal year. 

The decision was announced Friday morning during the Board of Regents quarterly meeting.

The reversal comes a week after the university sent a campus email identifying $2.4 million in savings through tiered salary reductions ranging from 2.5 to 10 percent. 

The pay cuts would have taken effect on July 1. WKU President Timothy Caboni said the university will look for other ways to cut $27 million from its budget, the result of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic and a projected decline in state funding.

WKU

The president of Western Kentucky University says the school will host students back on campus this fall.

The university suspended in-person classes and sent most students home from on-campus housing midway through the current spring semester as part of its COVID-19 response plan.

Speaking with the school's staff senate this week, WKU President Timothy Caboni said, while the school does plan to resume in-person instruction, any return to the hill will take place based on meeting benchmarks from the federal and state government, as well as the Centers for Disease Control.

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