The WKU Board of Regents has approved a budget that gets nearly half of its funding from student tuition and fees. By a 9-2 vote Friday morning, regents passed a $392 million spending plan for the upcoming fiscal year.
The new budget contains a $3.1 million dollar cut to Academic Affairs, which includes the elimination of 26 vacant faculty positions.
WKU History Professor and Faculty Regent Patti Minter was one of the two who voted against the budget. She said while some can argue it makes sense that academic departments face the toughest cuts since they have the largest overall piece of the budget, such decisions are harming WKU’s ability to attract and retain the best teachers and researchers.
“All of this would impact the students negatively,” Dr. Minter told WKU Public Radio. “Because this is the core mission, this is why Dr. Cherry built this college on a hill in 1906. And as he said in the depths of the depression, in these times we have to cut out all the extracurriculars, and we have to get back to the basics, which if the academic mission.”
Less than 19 percent of the next WKU budget comes from state funding, with nearly 49 percent made up of student tuition and fees.
As part of the budget, the Regents also approved a 4.8 percent tuition increase for resident undergraduate students, who will now pay nearly $4,600 per semester. The spending plan also includes a one percent cost-of living adjustment for WKU employees, with a minimum increase of $500 per worker.
WKU President Gary Ransdell told reporters after Friday’s regents meeting that declining state funding for higher education is a trend that has to be reversed soon.
“If we can get to the point we’ve gotten beyond state budget cuts, that would be a modest satisfaction. The victory will be if we can finally get Kentucky to invest in higher education, because it’s been now six years.”
WKU Health Services Deal Imminent
In addition to passing a budget, WKU regents were also told the school is close to signing an agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic to run the campus Health Services operation which serves students, faculty, and staff. The school announced in March it would seek to privatize the campus facility, with an estimated savings of $1.1 million dollars.
The school says while it will do all it can to help current Health Center employees remain with the new operator, WKU can’t guarantee workers will be able to keep their jobs.
WKU Vice President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead said 12 of the Health Center’s 27 employees have found work elsewhere since the privatization plan was announced.
Mead also said Graves Gilbert administrators have told the school they plan to expand the center’s hours. Under the proposal, the campus facility would be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, while being open half-days both Friday and Saturday.
If the deal is ultimately approved by the WKU Board of Regents, Graves Gilbert would begin operating the Health Center on Aug. 1.
The WKU Board of Regents has passed a $392 million budget for the 2014-15 academic year. The group gave its approval to the spending plan on a 9-2 margin, with the faculty and student regents voting against it.
Student tuition and fees make up nearly 49-percent of the next budget, with 18.5-percent coming from state funding.
WKU Vice President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead also told regents Friday morning that the school is close to signing an agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic to privatize the campus health services operation. WKU expects to save $1 million by allowing a private operator to run the facility.