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.