Western Kentucky University

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.

Kentucky’s colleges and universities are producing more degrees in science, technology, engineering, math and health care.  The state has surpassed a milestone for bachelor’s degrees in the STEM disciplines, according to a progress report from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education.

During the 2018-19 academic year, Kentucky’s public universities awarded 6,685 STEM plus health care degrees, up two percent from the previous year and 31 percent over the past five years. 


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.

WKU

Western Kentucky University has canceled some study abroad programs involving Italy, as that country deals with a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus.            

WKU has cancelled two study abroad courses in Italy based on warnings from the State Department and the Centers for Disease Control.  Both programs were scheduled for May 25 through June 26 during the university’s summer term.

One cancellation is the faculty-led 'Photography in Rome' course. 

The second cancellation is the 'WKU Bands Performance Tour and Study Abroad' which included locations in Venice and Milan, Italy, as well as stops in Greece, Albania and Croatia.

In addition, 14 other students planning to go to Italy for summer programs with partner schools will have to find other destinations.

The CDC has issued a Level 3 Warning to avoid nonessential travel to Italy due to widespread community transmission of respiratory illness caused by the coronavirus. 


J. Tyler Franklin, WFPL

Kentucky’s regional universities are worried about a spike in the amount they have to put into the state’s pension system and, after more than a decade of cuts, are asking for the legislature to give them more funding.

Regional universities like Eastern Kentucky University, Murray State University and Western Kentucky University currently have to contribute an amount equal to 49 percent of every employees’ salary back to the retirement system.

That amount is about to increase to 93 percent. The universities say that would force them to cut services and raise tuition.


Western Kentucky University is doing away with the ACT as a factor in most scholarships for incoming freshmen, and will instead focus on high school grades. 

“It means that we’re going to place the emphasis on performance over four years of high school, instead of one day of testing," WKU President Timothy Caboni said in announcing the changes Tuesday. 

"And we also are going to reduce the GPA requirement to be eligible for those scholarships from a 3.3 down to a 3.0, and we’re increasing that minimum scholarship by $1,000,” said Caboni.


Jesse Knifley

Some students with learning and attention issues have outstanding skills in certain academic areas.  These kids are often called “twice-exceptional.”

They're gifted, and they have learning issues.  For instance, a child on the autism spectrum may also a gifted musician. 

As provost of Bridges Graduate School for Cognitive Diversity in Education, Dr. Susan Baum specializes in working with twice-exceptional children.  She spoke this week at Western Kentucky University and stopped by the WKU Public Radio studios to share some of her expertise.


Becca Schimmel | Ohio Valley ReSource

A Western Kentucky University economist said global trade issues increasingly have an impact on farmers and business in places like southern Kentucky.

Brian Strow, a professor of Economics and the BB&T Professor for the Study of Capitalism at Western Kentucky University, said farmers are especially reliant on a healthy global economy, and have been closely following news concerning U.S. trade policy with China and the European Union.


WKU

As a new academic year begins, Western Kentucky University President Timothy Caboni says the school will continue to build on improvements made toward retaining and graduating more students. 

In his opening convocation to faculty and staff on Monday, Dr. Caboni said the first-to-second-semester persistence rate for students who began last fall was up four percent compared to 2017.  Bigger gains were made among low-income, minority, and first-generation students. 

Lisa Autry

As Western Kentucky University focuses on retaining and graduating more students, a housing project is getting underway to help the school achieve those goals. 

Demolition begins this week on Bemis Lawrence Hall to make way for the new first-year village that's designed to enhance the college experience for freshmen by connecting students with similar interests. 

The first-year village will feature pod-style housing, social areas, study rooms, and faculty and student mentors.

WKU

Western Kentucky University is closing a program on campus that promotes Chinese language and culture. 

In an email to faculty and staff on Monday, WKU President Timothy Caboni announced the school is terminating its agreement with the Confucius Institute. 

The institute came to WKU in 2010 and helps place Chinese language teachers in local K-through-12 schools, while also serving as a hub for teacher training and curriculum development.

“Though activities will phase out over the next several weeks, we will continue our dialogue with key partners to work toward a solution that allows WKU to continue our programming,” Dr. Caboni said. “We hope to strengthen, deepen and broaden our relationships with partner institutions in China throughout this process.”

WKU

The faculty regent at Western Kentucky University says he expects a proposal to suspend some academic programs will pass an initial vote on Friday. 

A committee made up of faculty members has recommended the school eliminate 101 programs, although many have no students currently enrolled. 

In an interview with WKU Public Radio, Dr. Claus Ernst said faculty he’s spoken to are largely in support of the recommendations.

“I think there’s a feeling that it could have been worse, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say faculty is happy. We’re all anxious about what the future will bring. Some programs will be cut even though they have some students in them, may not be a lot of students, but for any faculty member whose program is cut, that’s devastating.”

WKU

Western Kentucky University is making another leadership change in the Potter College of Arts and Letters. 

In an email on Wednesday afternoon to faculty and staff, Acting Provost Cheryl Stevens announced that Dr. Larry Snyder will resume serving as dean effective April 15.  He will finish his term which ends June 30, 2021.

Dr. Merrall Price, who was serving as interim dean, will remain as Special Assistant to the Provost until she begins her role as Associate Dean in Potter College effective July 1. 

Western Kentucky University’s Helm Library will no longer be a repository for books and quiet learning.

The library is preparing to close for a remodel that will take about two years to complete.  The $35 million project will transform Helm Library into a place where students, faculty, and staff can eat, study, and socialize. 

A collaboration between Aramark Restaurant Group and University Libraries is reinventing the space to include dining options and meeting areas. 

WKU President Timothy Caboni calls  The WKU Commons at Helm Library the “intellectual hub” of the campus. 

Lisa Autry

The Student Government Association at Western Kentucky University has voted in favor of relocating a historical marker on campus. 

The marker identifies Bowling Green as the Confederate Capital of Kentucky during the Civil War.  The marker was erected in 1952 during the civil rights era and stands in front of the Kentucky Museum.  SGA member Symone Whalin is an African-American student from Hardin County.

“I just feel like people should understand there is a time and setting for history to be remembered and I don’t think that every time I walk to class, I should be reminded that people who looked like me were not allowed to be here," Whalin told WKU Public Radio.

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