Lisa Autry

The process is moving forward to find the next president for Western Kentucky University.

Consultants with Isaacson, Miller, the firm hired to help in the search, have been on campus this week meeting with university leaders.  They met Friday afternoon with members of the search committee on what qualities they are looking for in the school’s next leader.

The firm will begin submitting names for consideration to the search committee in September.  Members then plan to send three to five finalists to the full board of regents by December 1.  Chairman Phillip Bale says the finalists’ names will not likely be made public.

"If it's someone that says 'Look, if I'm not the person that's selected, I'm going to lose my job, so you either maintain confidentiality or drop me out,' then we're going to maintain confidentiality," Bale told WKU Public Radio.  "Our objective is to find and get the best person we can, and anything that jeopardizes that, we will avoid."

The board is expected to make its presidential selection by March 2017.

Dr. Ransdell’s retirement is effective June 30, 2017. 

St. Catharine College To Close At End Of July

Jun 1, 2016
St. Catherine College

Officials from St. Catharine College announced Wednesday that the school will shutter its doors next month.

According to a news release, following recent meetings of the board of trustees, chairman John Turner told faculty and staff of the planned closure at a campus-wide meeting on Wednesday.

“It is with great sadness that I announce today, after exploring all possible options, the board of trustees has determined the challenges facing St. Catharine College are insurmountable and we will be closing the college at the end of July,” Turner said.

Turner said a decline in overall enrollment and the federal Department of Education’s admitted wrongful withholding of student aid has proven to be too difficult to manage along with the college’s debts.

The school says the debt Turner referenced was due to the construction of new facilities, including residence halls, a health sciences building and a library.


Students applying to Western Kentucky University will need a higher score on one of their entrance exams.  

The College Board, the group that administers the SAT, has redesigned the test.  Due to the changes, the new minimum score for acceptance at WKU is a 1020.  The accepted score on the old test was a 940. 

Jace Lux, director of admissions and recruitment at WKU, says the higher score doesn’t mean the test is harder to take.

"I think it's one of those cases where it's not necessarily harder, but just different.  I think it's a response to some of the different methods of teaching that students are experiencing in high schools now and some of the ways they're prepared for college."

The new required score will apply to students who took the SAT after March 1 of this year.  The old score will continue to be accepted if students took the SAT prior to March 1.

A passing SAT score is one of several ways students can be admitted to WKU.  The ACT is the entrance exam most widely used for college admission in Kentucky.

EKU Closing Campus in Somerset

May 30, 2016
EKU-Somerset Campus

Eastern Kentucky University is closing a satellite campus in Somerset.

Media outlets report the university announced in a news release that the 5,000-square-foot office will close on June 30 due to state budget cuts.

EKU faces a 4.5 percent reduction in state support for each of the next two fiscal years. The news release says EKU also has an estimated $8 million in additional costs for mandated retirement contributions and other needs.

One class at the Somerset branch is scheduled to finish in June. No other classes are scheduled during the summer.

Regional campuses in Corbin, Danville and Manchester are unaffected by the decision.

Flickr/Creative Commons

Kentucky principals are offering their perspective on school bullying. 

A statewide survey released Wednesday shows many principals have received no training on how to carry out policies to prevent bullying. 

The questionnaire was conducted by the Kentucky Center for School Safety.  Executive Director Jon Akers recommends districts gives principals more training, which should include helping administrators distinguish between bullying and other misbehaviors.

"Sometimes there's mislabeling of conflicts between kids," explains Akers.  "Peer-to peer conflict with no imbalance of power is a different situation than the imbalance of power and the continual harrassing of a kid."

More than half of the principals who responded to the survey said they were only given copies of their district’s anti-bullying policies, without any training.  About one-fourth of them said they have received training. 

Flickr/Creative Commons/ Novartis AG

Owensboro Community & Technical College is the only school in Kentucky chosen to take part in a national educational experiment to award Pell Grants to high school students.

The grants will be used to cover the cost of dual credit courses taken by high school students.

The Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer reports low-income students in Daviess, McLean, Ohio and Hancock counties will be able to apply for the grants.

The financial aid comes at the same time that the Kentucky Community & Technical College System is raising its dual credit fee from $50 to $200 per class.

Students who want to apply for a Pell Grant have to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

OCTC is one of 44 colleges in the nation taking part in the program. The Obama administration announced this week that the U.S. Department of Education will make $20 million available for the school semester beginning this fall.


When it comes to depth of curriculum, breadth of research and impact on the state economy, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville lead the way among public colleges in the Bluegrass State.

When it comes to investing donors’ dollars, though, leadership might be best found outside of the state’s money centers, in college towns like Bowling Green, Morehead and Murray.

The Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting examined five years’ worth of investment returns of 11 collegiate endowments across the state. The chief takeaway? Bigger is definitely not better. The public colleges in Kentucky that have amassed the largest war chests of public donations are nowhere near the winner’s circle when it comes to making money.

UK — whose $1 billion endowment is the state’s largest — ranked a mediocre sixth in generating returns on donors’ money over five years. The U of L Foundation’s ranked ninth.

The endowment that generated the best three and five-year returns as of Dec. 31 was the College Heights Foundation at Western Kentucky University. The smaller of two endowments at Western, College Heights posted an average annual return of 7.4 percent on its investments from 2011 through 2015. It was also the second-best performer in 2015 alone, when a flat stock market, low bond yields and plunging commodity prices sent most endowment balances into reverse.

Kentucky State President Raymond Burse to Resign

May 23, 2016
Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University President Raymond Burse is resigning at the end of this week.

In a statement released Monday, Burse says he decided that the "further demands and challenges of Kentucky State must be undertaken by new leadership."

A Harvard-educated lawyer, Burse was named Kentucky State president in October 2014 after a short interim period and made headlines when he gave up $90,000 of his presidential salary to boost the wages of university workers. Burse also served a term as president of the traditionally African-American university in the 1980s.

The university was spared from a recent round of funding cuts imposed by Gov. Matt Bevin.

Burse says in the statement he decided to leave the job after nearly six months of personal assessments and evaluations. His last day is Friday.

As the Kentucky Community & Technical College System eliminates 506 jobs, it disclosed that it paid $815,741 last year to former president Michael McCall.

KCTCS Cuts More than 500 Jobs to Close Budget Gap

May 19, 2016

The Kentucky Community and Technical College System has eliminated more than 500 positions and suspended some college programs, all in an effort to close a $26 million gap in its budget.

KCTCS spokeswoman Mary Hemlepp tells local media that 505 positions have recently been eliminated system-wide. She says 191 of those positions were faculty and 315 were staff, but because many of the positions were vacant or were vacated through retirements, only 45 faculty and 125 staff were actually laid off.

Hemlepp says the college system's financial problems stemmed from seven years of state appropriation cuts and an additional 4.5 percent in the next biennium. Several years of declining enrollment also led to tuition shortfalls.

KCTCS President Jay Box announced earlier this month that next year's tuition is being increased by 6.1 percent.

Midway University

The only women’s college in Kentucky will undergo a major transition this fall.

For the first time in nearly 170 years, Midway University will begin accepting men as full-time undergraduates with the fall semester.

Male students can apply to live in residence halls starting in Spring of 2017. Previously, men were accepted only in graduate or online programs.

The school’s board of trustees voted Monday to make the change.

University President John Marsden said the decision was made in order for the liberal arts university to remain viable.

Midway traces its roots back to 1847, when it was founded as the Kentucky Female Orphan School.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

The leader of Bowling Green city schools says the district will adhere to federal guidance concerning transgender students while at the same time keeping  all students safe. 

In a letter on Friday to public schools across the nation, the U.S. Department of Education said federal law requires them to allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their chosen identity. 

Superintendent Gary Fields says those issues are handled on an individual basis between students, their parents, and school administrators.

"We have to have those discussions to see where students are at that time, based on whether it's a younger student or an older student.  What is best for one child may not be best for other children," Fields told WKU Public Radio.  "We make decisions that are in the best interests of those students and all of our students."

Morehead State University

Morehead State University has announced budget recommendations, including the elimination of 64 positions.

Multiple news outlets report school officials made the announcement Thursday.

President Wayne D. Andrews said in a statement that the cuts are in response to a budget deficit of more than $9.7 million because of declining enrollment, population and a decrease in state funding.

Of the positions proposed to be eliminated, 30 are filled and 34 are vacant. Other recommendations include a total of $4.9 million in revenue enhancements and $718,594 reductions in the university's operating budget.

A final budget recommendation is expected to be presented to the Board of Regents in June.

Kevin Willis, WKU Public Radio

Western Kentucky University President Gary Ransdell says budget cuts at the school won’t negatively impact academic programs.

WKU Wednesday released a plan to eliminate $6 million from the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Ransdell said no degree programs or faculty positions that are currently filled are being eliminated. The cuts are the result of a 4.5 percent reduction in state funding, an enrollment decline, and a 48 percent increase in the employer contribution to the Kentucky Employees Retirement System.

Nearly $750,000 in savings will be gained by moving the school's Buildings Services and Grounds employees to a private contract with Sodexo.

However, Ransdell said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon that none of those employees will lose their jobs.

“Each employee, the 202 in our BSA work group and our grounds crew, will receive a dollar-an-hour raise,” Ransdell told reporters. “Their compensation will go from $9.26 an hour to $10.26 an hour, so they’re getting nearly a ten-percent pay increase.”

The cost of a college education in Kentucky continues to inch upward.  Meeting in Bowling Green Tuesday, the Council on Postsecondary Education approved tuition ceilings for the state’s public colleges and universities.

The state’s two research schools, the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville, will be allowed to raise their in-state undergraduate rates up to 5 percent each for the 2016-17 academic year. 

For the state’s six comprehensive universities, the increases vary from school to school.  The CPE approved a 4.65 percent hike for Western Kentucky University; 4.95 percent for Northern Kentucky; and 5.4 percent for Morehead State. 

Tuition costs can rise at Eastern Kentucky University by 5.3 percent; 10.4 percent at Murray State; and 5.8 percent at Kentucky State.

The CPE is allowing the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to hike tuition by $9 per credit hour.