Western Kentucky University

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.”

Western Kentucky University now has its first building on campus named in honor of an African-American. 

In a meeting , the on Friday, the WKU Board of Regents approved the renaming of Northeast Residence Hall in honor of Logan County native Margaret Munday

Following the desegregation of Kentucky’s public colleges and universities in 1956, Munday made history as the first African-American student to enroll at WKU.  After graduating with a music degree in 1960, she taught at the all-black Johnstown School in Olmstead. She later became the first Black teacher at Auburn High School, and eventually taught at every school in Logan County. 

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.”


The governing body of Western Kentucky University has approved a contract extension for President Timothy Caboni

After 3.5 years leading the university, President Caboni would stay at the helm through 2025, under terms of the new extension.  The WKU Board of Regents on Friday also agreed to boost his base salary to $450,000 a year, an increase of  $34,000.  Caboni will also be eligible for yearly performance bonuses equal to 10% of his base pay.

Regent Dr. Phillip Bale called Caboni an "overachiever" who has positioned the unversity to be one of the success stories in higher education.

Ryland Barton

A new report shows the number of Confederate symbols removed across the nation last year include three in Kentucky, one in Indiana, and none in Tennessee. 

Many more across the nation were renamed or taken down following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis.

In the seven months following the Floyd killing, more symbols were removed from public property than in the past four years combined. 

According to a count from the Southern Poverty Law Center, 168 Confederate symbols came down in 2020, but 704 monuments are still standing.  SPLC Chief of Staff Lecia Brooks says some states made it more difficult to remove monuments following a watershed event in South Carolina.

Western Kentucky University

Students at Western Kentucky University return to campus on Tuesday for the start of the spring semester, and they’re being asked to follow the same coronavirus safety measures that were in place for the fall semester. 

David Oliver, Emergency Manager at WKU, said masks, reduced class sizes and enhanced cleaning have worked well over the past several months. Oliver said the school’s COVID-19 numbers stayed relatively flat throughout the fall semester while positive cases in the community were rising.

“We didn’t have anybody who said, 'I know I got it in this classroom' or 'I know I got in from this lab','" said Oliver. "We had no cases between the health department or others that traced back to one of the academic settings.”

Salary cuts made during the COVID-19 pandemic are being restored to faculty and staff at Western Kentucky University. 

During Friday's Board of Regents meeting, WKU President Timothy Caboni thanked the campus community for making shared sacrifices.  He announced all salary reductions will end this month and employees will receive reimbursement for the amount withheld since July 1. 

The cuts were made as the school prepared for an uncertain fall semester due to the pandemic.  However, enrollment this fall exceeded projections and Caboni said the university expects no additional cuts to state funding through the end of the fiscal year.

Winifred Forrester

Sculptor Charles Forrester influenced scores of artists in his 25 years of teaching art at Western Kentucky University.  Now, the prolific sculptor is being remembered posthumously in a documentary premiering on WKU Public Television. 

Forrester's daughter Winifred Forrester has spent years curating her father's artwork and says she's eager to share his legacy.

"The old saying about the best musicians are the one's you've never heard, it applies to artists too," stated Forrester. "The best artists are the ones you've never seen their work, and I wanted to bring his work to a wider audience."

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.


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.

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.


For the first time since the coronavirus hit in March, Western Kentucky University will reopen to in-person learning next Monday.

During his annual convocation to faculty and staff on Monday, President Timothy Caboni acknowledged the difficulty of the past five months while sharing some of the school’s milestones. 

In a departure from a packed auditorium at Van Meter Hall, President Caboni delivered his speech virtually to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.  While acknowledging the coronavirus as the largest challenge in WKU history, Caboni highlighted some successes in recruitment, retention, and graduation.

Mackenzie Kristufek

As Kentucky busiesses and schools reopen, with strict health guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a recent graduate of Western Kentucky University said she knows from personal experience that young people are not immune to the coronavirus. 

MacKenzie Kristufek turned around on her way to her temporary job at the end of March because she didn’t feel well. The symptoms of COVID-19 worsened as the day went on with a sore throat, back pain, fever, a headache and difficulty breathing. 

She tested positive for COVID-19 and went into a two-week quarantine. Her boyfriend’s parents helped her get through it. 

Starting next fall, Western Kentucky University will admit some students without taking into account their scores on standardized tests. 

Members of the Board of Regents heard a presentation on Friday about how the school is placing less emphasis on the role of tests like the ACT when it comes to enrolling freshmen.

President Timothy Caboni said the school wants to reward four years of high school success instead of one day of testing.

“While testing can tell you some portion of a student’s capability and capacity, the GPA in high school is the best predictor of college success, so we think we should use that more than other metrics," Caboni told reporters following the Regents meeting.

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."