Education

PBS

An upcoming presentation at WKU by a popular former PBS host known as “The Science Guy” is proving such a hot ticket that the event is being moved.

Bill Nye is speaking October 15 as part of the WKU Cultural Enhancement Series. He was originally slated to talk at Van Meter Hall, but to accommodate the high demand for tickets, the school is moving the event to Diddle Arena.

Nye is a scientist, author, and advocate who travels the country to talk about the importance of science education. He recently debated the issue of evolution versus creationism at the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky.

All tickets given out for Nye’s talk at Van Meter will be honored at Diddle Arena. Updated information about tickets and parking for Nye's event at WKU is available here.

WKU

WKU History Professor Patti Minter, in an email to WKU faculty Thursday evening, says she will not stand for re-election for another term as faculty regent.

Minter's last day as regent will be Oct. 31, the same day as the fourth quarterly meeting of the Board of Regents.

"My seven years on the Board of Regents have been interesting, challenging, and often lively," Minter said in her email. "As the faculty’s voice and advocate on the Board, I have always done my best to strengthen WKU’s educational mission and to advocate for the interests not only of my faculty constituents but also for all employees and students of Western Kentucky University."

"I have also worked hard to abide by my oath of office and fiduciary responsibility to act in the University’s best interests, even when this meant voicing dissent. In closing, I want to offer my heartfelt thanks for your past support, without which any forward progress would not have been possible."

Daymar Colleges Group

A for-profit college targeted by Kentucky’s Attorney General says it will close its Louisville operations, and is seeking to transfer its students.

The announcement is the latest bad news for Owensboro-based Daymar Colleges Group.

The Courier-Journal reports Daymar has submitted a closure plan to its accrediting body that would lead to the shuttering of its classrooms, and transfer most of its 89 Louisville-area students to other schools, or Daymar’s online program.

Daymar runs more than a dozen campuses in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio, with around 2,000 students. Daymar has recently closed operations in Scottsville and the western Kentucky town of Clinton, and has sold--or is trying to sell--buildings in Owensboro and Louisville.

WKU

Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education and university presidents are working to craft proposed changes to the state’s higher education funding formula.

The CPE and school leaders can’t change the funding formula on their own. Such a move would have to be approved by state lawmakers. But university and CPE leaders meet on a monthly basis, and a major topic of discussion recently has been a proposal to include “performance funding.”

Such a plan could potentially reward schools based on factors such as enrollment levels, graduation rates, or efforts in closing achievement gaps. Any effort at instituting performance funding, however, is likely contingent on lawmakers increasing the overall amount of higher education funding.

The Courier-Journal reports University of Louisville President James Ramsey sent a letter to the CPE last month saying he would only support performance-based funding if it came with new money.

Centre College

Centre College in Danville is unveiling a new scholarship program endowed by the largest single gift ever given to the school.

J. David and Marlene Grissom of Louisville have agreed to fund a four-year, full tuition scholarship that will go to ten first-generation college students each year beginning in the fall of 2015. J. David Grissom is a Centre graduate who served as chairman of the school’s board of trustees for two decades.

The total amount of the gift isn’t being made public, but Centre officials say it’s the largest ever received in the Danville school’s 195 year history.

Centre’s Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, Bob Nesmith, says the school is already recruiting the first class of Grissom Scholars.

Gov. Steve Beshear has announced the creation of a new task force to combat bullying in Kentucky’s schools.

Beshear named the 22-member Kentucky Youth Bullying Prevention Task Force Thursday in Frankfort. He cited statistics from the Kentucky Department of Education that found over 15,000 reported incidents of bullying in the 2012-2013 school year, as well as research that links bullying with dropout rates and teen suicides.

“When you have these incidents of bullying contributing to teen suicides and attempted suicides, that’s a huge problem," Beshear said. "So we’re going to take a comprehensive look at this, and hopefully come up with some other avenues and some other tools that will give us a comprehensive set of solutions.”

The task force will examine legislative approaches and school practices, and  the link between  cyber-bullying and teen suicide.

The group will provide a written report of its findings to the governor’s office in November 2015.

Over the last six years, a new type of online learning has developed across the country. They are classes called MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses.  WKU is offering its second such course this fall, called Origins and Progressions of Sports in America. It’s taught by retired kinesiology professor Randy Deere.

“It’s a free course and it’s not like a typical online course that you might sign up for through the university,” said Deere.  “All the material has to have…you have to have open access, open domain material.”

Deere says an unlimited number of people can sign up for the class. He says 70 people took the course this summer.

“Sport is a big domestic product and a huge domestic product financially for our country. It’s who we are it’s what we do and the information we’re trying to disseminate gives people a nice background of the country and how sport fits into it,” said Deere.

Deere says the course promotes lots of discussion among those who participate.  The MOOC begins September 21st. 

Madisonville Community College has reached a fifth of its goal towards a Murray State University Postsecondary Education building on campus. 

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The president of Kentucky’s flagship university is being rewarded with a salary increase and performance bonus. 

Citing an outstanding job evaluation, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees voted Friday to give President Eli Capilouto a two percent salary increase and a $150,000 bonus. 

He was praised by trustees for privatizing U-K’s dining services and overseeing a $1 billion construction initiative across campus.  

The Lexington Herald-Leader reports the salary hike of about $10,000 brings Capilouto’s total salary to $535,500.   The vote allowing the pay raise was upstaged by Capilouto’s announcement that he’s donating $250,000 to the university to develop a health research center.

Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro has appointed its 34th president.

The school announced Thursday Barton D. Darrell will be officially introduced as its next leader at a news conference on Tuesday.

Darrell has been a vice-president at the school for 11 months. He has extensive ties to the Bowling Green area, serving as a partner with the law firm of Bell, Orr, Ayers, and Moore beginning in 1991. Darrel served as general counsel for the Warren County Public School system, and is a former president of the Bowling Green-Warren County Bar Association.

His father, Bob Darrell, is a professor emeritus of English at Kentucky Wesleyan College.

The news conference to introduce Barton Darrell as the school’s new president is Sept. 9, at noon in Rogers Hall at the Winchester Center. The public is invited to attend.

Flickr Creative Commons

WKU wants to convince more middle and high school girls to pursue classes in the STEM fields. More than 200 area girls in grades 5-12 will be on campus Saturday, Sept. 6, for the Girls in Science Day event.

The effort will focus on helping girls explore fields of study in science, technology, engineering, and math. Program coordinator Melissa Rudloff says many girls who initially excel in science-related classes take fewer of those courses as they get older.

“Research tells us that going back to elementary and middle school, many of those girls who may have entered those professions definitely had interest and ability in those fields. But somewhere along the way they become channeled in different directions. And many may do that themselves, or maybe it’s through the lack of experiences they have,” said Rudloff, who is the Professional-In-Residence at WKU’s SKyTeach program, which instructs future middle and high school math and science teachers.

One of the events at the Girls in Science Day gathering will be a talk led by Cheryl Stevens, Dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering. Rudloff believes it’s extremely important for girls to meet women who have succeeded in science-related fields.

Kentucky CPE Looks to Other States for Alternative Higher Ed Funding Examples

Sep 3, 2014
Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education

Kentucky's Council on Postsecondary Education wants a united front when pressing legislators for a third consecutive year for performance funding for state universities.

In a meeting Wednesday, CPE President Bob King said he wants to give legislators a clear option that achieves good for the state. But he says the CPE can’t do it without the legislators help.

“While we would like you to match the amount we are willing to put of our current base at risk, whether that’s 2 percent, 3 percent, 8 percent, whatever it is,” King said. “I think it’s a way of demonstrating good faith to them, whether it’s reciprocated with some good faith back who the hell knows?”

CPE committee members are looking to successful states—Tennessee, Indiana and Mississippi—where at least a portion of funds are tied to outcomes like graduation rate or course completion.

“My hope is that we can end up with a process that allows every campus to feel they’re being treated fairly. Ultimately what we want is every campus to be treated adequately, meeting House Bill 1 (1997), and that through that we can best serve the needs of Kentucky and the people we educate.”

Kentucky Making Progress Toward Top 20 National Status in Education

Sep 3, 2014
Kentucky Dept. of Education

The Commonwealth is seeing gains and losses in its race to reach top tier national status in key areas of education. In 2008, the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence challenged the state to reach the top 20 by the year 2020.

The committee Wednesday released an update on the state's progress. According to the report, Kentucky is on track to meet the goal in areas like fourth and eighth grade reading, teacher salaries, and Advanced Placement credits. However, the state has lost ground in areas including eighth grade math and the share of higher education costs to families.

Prichard Committee Director Stu Silberman says it's well past time to act on tax reform and put more state resources into education. 

"You know we're making good progress,"  Silberman said. "I think we're accountable for the dollars that are being spent and when we are making good progress. That's the time to say, hey look we recognize that, we need to step in here and really help."  

With the proper state investment, Silberman says six years from now, Kentucky could crack the top 10 in education nationally. 

Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU is celebrating the grand opening of its newly renovated student center.

The Downing Student Union has undergone a $58 million facelift that includes new dining facilities, lighting, plumbing and HVAC systems. The building formerly known as the Downing University Center, or “DUC”, first opened in 1970.

Renovations began in 2012 after a group of WKU employees and students toured other university student centers to gather ideas about what they would like to see in DSU.

The center of the building is open from the first floor to the third floor, with solar tubes that allow natural light in.  In addition, murals of campus scenes by artist David Jones are painted throughout the building.

A new partnership between WKU and the University of Pikeville will offer new opportunities for students in eastern Kentucky to earn three master’s degrees in health-related fields. The deal announced Thursday will also open up Pikeville’s College of Optometry to WKU students

WKU President Gary Ransdell and UPIKE President James Hurley announced what they’re calling the “East Meets West” partnership. Speaking at the Pikeville campus, Dr. Ransdell said he began conversations with his Pikeville counterpart about a year ago over how the two schools could work together.

WKU will begin offering to UPIKE students this fall an online Speech-Language Pathology pathway program that includes all of the pre-requisite courses students needed to qualify for a master’s in Communication Disorders.

Also available to UPIKE students will be the WKU Master of Healthcare Administration degree, starting in the fall of 2015. The online program will allow current UPIKE medical students and those completing their residency program to finish both a master’s degree and their medical degree at the same time.

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