Ransdell Emphasizes Retention, Attracting High-Achieving Students During Convocation

Aug 23, 2013

WKU President Gary Ransdell addressed faculty and staff at the opening convocation on Aug. 23 at Van Meter Hall.
Credit WKU's Clinton Lewis

WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff that it's unlikely that significant new state funding for higher education will come from the next Kentucky budget.

Speaking at Friday's annual convocation, President Ransdell said the recent state funding declines make it all the more important for the school to attract the highest-achieving students possible, and do everything possible to see them through to graduation.

Ransdell said WKU is challenged by a drop in the number of high school graduates in the commonwealth.

"The number of U.S. high-school graduates peaked at 3.4 million in 2010-2011 and is projected to fall to 3.2 million by 2013-14, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Kentucky is projected to have a 6.1 percent decline in the number of high school graduates by 2020," said Dr. Ransdell. 

"An era of aggressive tuition increases and enrollment growth strategies that carried us from 1998 to 2008 cannot serve us well going forward. We have penetrated well the Kentucky market place, but the paradigm has shifted. The numbers in Kentucky just are not there in the future."

You can read Dr. Ransdell's entire convocation address here.

President Ransdell said the school is taking on two enrollment strategies to ensure "a stable financial profile".

The first strategy is to recruit more international and domestic out-of-state students who meet the school's recently raised admission standards.

The second is to retain and graduate more of the students the school accepts.

The WKU President also told his audience he wants to see at least 10-percent of the school's undergraduate students study abroad, while doubling the number of international students.