Education

Flickr/Creative Commons/Jason Howie

Researchers from WKU and Clemson University have teamed up to learn more about the role social media sites play in spreading inaccurate information during crisis situations.

WKU associate professor of communications Blair Thompson recently co-authored a study that was published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The study examined the impact social media had on disseminating information following a pair of school shootings that took place at Fern Creek High School in Louisville and Albermarle, North Carolina, on Sept. 30, 2014.

Thompson recently spoke to WKU Public Radio about the research findings. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:

What were you hoping to learn when you set out on this research project?

We knew there would be misinformation—that’s what happens when people go into that (a school shooting) so fast, and they’re posting  whatever, and they pull off what somebody else says, and it just kind of builds from there.

I think what’s useful about the research is that we were able to pinpoint the specific areas where the misinformation occurs. We found five or six categories.

Rob Canning, WKMS

Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education President Bob King says Kentucky’s recent strides in economic recovery have not been reflected in its funding for higher education.

The CPE was at Murray State University Tuesday evening as part of its series of town hall debates to gather input on the new five-year strategic initiative plan.

An audience of about 100 educators, business leaders and local and state government officials were present for the forum in MSU's Freed Curd Auditorium.

One of the key challenges outlined in King's presentation was finding alternative funding.

State Funding

Since the 2008 recession, Kentucky colleges have had to cut budgets and raise tuition in light of reduced state appropriations. Although some state experts say the Commonwealth is now on an economic upswing, King says colleges are still struggling to maintain quality programs with reduced funding levels.

The Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education is holding a series of public meetings around the state to gather input on a new five-year plan for higher education.  On Monday night, a meeting will take place at Somerset Community College. 

CPE President Bob King says affordability remains a key area of concern.  Because of higher tuition and tighter state funds, public universities now get more money from their students than from the state.

"Not that long ago, the state contribution to the universities on a per-student basis picked up about two-thirds of the cost of educating a student and tuition picked up about one-third," King told WKU Public Radio.  "That has completely reversed in about a ten-year period."

University presidents will lobby the General Assembly next year to increase higher education funding for the first time since 2008. 

Lawmakers will also be asked to switch to a performance funding model which would administer state funds based on the number of graduates or degrees that a school produces.

The remaining public meetings will be held from 6-8pm at these locations:

  • Monday, July 20: Harold Rogers Student Commons, Community Room, Somerset Community College, Somerset.
  • Tuesday, July 21: Collins Industry and Technology Center, Freed Curd Auditorium, Murray State University, Murray.
  • Wednesday, July 29: Rieveschel Digitorium, Griffin Hall 201, Northern Kentucky University, Highland Heights.

Kentucky teenagers and administrators are bracing themselves for a new state dropout law that will go into effect on July 1 in most school districts.

The dropout age is being raised from 16 to 18, meaning some students who legally left the education system will now have to return to school.

17-year-old dropouts say it is pointless to make them return because they plan on dropping out again upon their next birthday. Administrators, meanwhile, are not relishing the new task of trying to track down the juveniles and bring them back.

   Newport Independent Schools administrator Mike Wills says the law will be hard to enforce. Aside from filing charges and taking a student or the student's parents to court, there's not much recourse for districts, he says.

WKU

Gov. Steve Beshear has appointed Carol Martin "Bill" Gatton to be a lifetime honorary trustee of the University of Kentucky, where Gatton is the largest single donor.

Gatton has given more than $45 million to his alma mater, including $20 million for a new student center. That gift is the largest in UK's history. The Carol Martin Gatton Academy for Mathmatics and Science on the campus of Western Kentucky University is named in his honor.

Gatton's last term as a trustee ends this month. Honorary status makes him a non-voting member of the board.

Beshear said the designation would allow the board to continue to benefit from Gatton's "wisdom, counsel and guidance."

Bowling Green Independent School District

Bowling Green High School has named William King as its new principal. 

King had been serving as the Freshman Principal of Bowling Green High for the past five years.  Before that, he spent three years as the school’s Literacy Coach and Curriculum Coordinator and five years as a social studies teacher. 

King is a graduate himself of Bowling Green High.  He holds Bachelor's, Master's and Rank 1 degrees from WKU.

King replaces former principal Gary Fields who was promoted to superintendent of city schools.

WKU

WKU has picked its next Vice President of Development and Alumni Relations.

Marc Archambault will join WKU August 17, and take over the post previously held by Kathryn Costello, who is transitioning into a different position at the school.

Archambault currently serves as head of development and alumni at Utah Valley University, and has previously held positions at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California; Purdue University; and the University of Houston.

Speaking to WKU Public Radio Monday, Archambault  said he’ll be working this summer to meet as many WKU stakeholders as possible.

“One of the first important steps is a listening tour, and collecting as much data as I can while I try to master the financial and budgetary landscape in which I’ll be working.”

Archambault  will also serve as President of the WKU Foundation, and will lead the school’s next capital campaign.

“It is early, of course, and I think at this stage we would really describe it as exploring a future campaign. It’s something President Ransdell and the leadership feel passionate about.”

Archambault holds a bachelor’s degree in physical sciences and English from Saint Michael’s College in Colchester, Vermont, and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University in Indianapolis.

KCTCS

Pay raises are on tap for employees of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. 

The Board of Regents approved a new budget of $888,114, 300 during it's quarterly meeting on Friday at Hopkinsville Community College. 

The spending plan represents a $36 million reduction from the previous year due to a decline in state funding, the decision not to raise tuition, and a decrease in enrollment. 

“I applaud President Box and the board for their commitment to keeping education affordable by not raising tuition for 2015-16,” said KCTCS Board of Regents Chair P.G. Peeples in a news release. “Despite these belt-tightening times we cannot continue to place the burden of decreased state support on the backs of our students.”

The budget does allow a one percent or $1,000 salary increase, whichever is greater, for full-time faculty and staff.

WKU

A recent WKU graduate from Lexington has won the 2015 Hearst National Multimedia championship.

Adam Wolfbrandt received his photojournalism degree last month, and is the first WKU student to win the Hearst Multimedia title, along with a $5,000 award.

The Hearst awards are considered the “Pulitzers of college journalism”, and are given annually to students for excellence in the fields of photojournalism, writing, radio, television, and multimedia.

WKU students have won the Hearst photojournalism title 11 times, and the Hearst national writing championship and radio news championship one time each.

The Anderson County Adult Education Center is empty on a Thursday afternoon, except for a receptionist, a teacher and the director.

Two years ago, every table in the small classroom might be filled, said Jerry Shaw, the center’s director.

He’d have trouble just walking across the room.

“Every age group, every stage of the test. There were days where it was slow, but that was unusual. Now the days that are slow are the usual,” Shaw said.

The situation is playing out across the state.

The number of Kentuckians passing the General Educational Development test, or GED, has dropped by 85 percent in the last two years, according to the state’s adult education program.

During the 2013 fiscal year, 8,890 students earned GED diplomas.

The current fiscal year ends this month. So far the state has issued only 1,351 diplomas.

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