The President of WKU says he’s not counting on a big tuition increase to help offset a proposed cut in state funding for universities.
Dr. Gary Ransdell says he believes the Council on Postsecondary Education will cap the next round of potential tuition increases at about three percent.
That’s the increase the CPE set last April for in-state undergraduate students beginning this fall. President Ransdell told WKU Public Radio that it’s probably not realistic to expect anything more than that.
“Even if the CPE would allow a higher number, we’re not likely to go there,” Dr. Ransdell said during a break in Friday’s Board of Regents meeting. “So we’re going to have a modest tuition increase. Every year there’s going to be a tuition increase. It will simply cover our fixed-cost increases. These other items are going to have to be funded in some other way—probably through redirection of funds within our budget.”
The proposed budget announced by Governor Beshear this week includes a 2.5 percent spending reduction for state universities, which amounts to a loss of $1.8 million for WKU in fiscal year 2015.
Kentucky minimum wage increase?
A proposed increase in Kentucky’s minimum wage would add an estimated $419,000 to WKU's current payroll obligations. Kentucky House Speaker Greg Stumbo is sponsoring legislation that would boost the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, up from the current $7.25 an hour.
The president of WKU is on the list of speakers at a forum on rising student debt being held by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
WKU President Gary Ransdell is in Missouri Monday for the event titled “Generation Debt: The Promise, Perils, and Future of Student Loans”.
According to a report from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the average student debt per follower grew from $16,000 in 2005, to $25,000 in 2012. The College Board found that an estimated 66 percent of seniors graduating in 2011 had student loan debt.
Economic and education analysts are increasingly worried that the growing debts faced by college graduates will impair the upward mobility of young Americans.
Monday’s forum on student debt is being webcast live from St. Louis, beginning at 12:30 pm central. You can see that webcast here.
A new hotel is being called a bridge that will bring WKU and downtown Bowling Green closer together.
City and university leaders Tuesday announced that a 108-room Hyatt Place hotel will be built adjacent to the WKU Augustein Alumni Center. Construction on the four-story building will start this fall, with a scheduled opening in fall of 2014.
WKU President Gary Ransdell described the effort as a "cornerstone" that will help unite the school's campus and the city's downtown.
"This is what begins to marry Western Kentucky University--our physical campus--with downtown Bowling Green. This project is going to be the bridge which begins to bring these two very important variables in our community together."
The hotel will be owned by Dellisart Wellspring, LLC, the same group behind the Staybridge Suites Hotel in Bowling Green at the intersection of Nashville Road and Campbell Lane.
WKU President Gary Ransdell told faculty and staff that it's unlikely that significant new state funding for higher education will come from the next Kentucky budget.
Speaking at Friday's annual convocation, President Ransdell said the recent state funding declines make it all the more important for the school to attract the highest-achieving students possible, and do everything possible to see them through to graduation.
Ransdell said WKU is challenged by a drop in the number of high school graduates in the commonwealth.
"The number of U.S. high-school graduates peaked at 3.4 million in 2010-2011 and is projected to fall to 3.2 million by 2013-14, according to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Kentucky is projected to have a 6.1 percent decline in the number of high school graduates by 2020," said Dr. Ransdell.
"An era of aggressive tuition increases and enrollment growth strategies that carried us from 1998 to 2008 cannot serve us well going forward. We have penetrated well the Kentucky market place, but the paradigm has shifted. The numbers in Kentucky just are not there in the future."
The new WKU Health Sciences Complex at The Medical Center in Bowling Green will double the number of new nursing and physical therapy students graduating and entering the work force.
The first class of 80 nursing students begins classes Monday, Aug. 26.
WKU President Gary Ransdell told an audience at Thursday morning's official opening of the complex that as many as 360 students will be going through a variety of programs.
"This new building will house a bachelor's, master's, and a doctoral degree program in the WKU School of Nursing. And is will allow us to double the number of nursing students we accept every year, and the impact that will have on health care across our entire region is just profound," said Dr. Ransdell.
The first class of 30 students in the Doctor of Physical Therapy program began in June and just finished their first semester.
The WKU Board of Regents will vote on the school’s next budget at a meeting Friday afternoon. The nearly $394 million spending plan for 2013-14 is a 1.4 percent increase over last year’s budget.
If approved, 46 percent of the revenue used to run WKU would come from tuition and student fees. Only 18 percent of the proposed budget comes from state funding.
The budget vote comes after several tumultuous months on the WKU campus. In April, the Council on Postsecondary Education rejected President Gary Ransdell’s request for a 5 percent tuition increase, granting just a 3 percent hike. Ransdell told WKU faculty and staff that the decision meant the school was going to have to cut jobs.
WKU President Gary Ransdell has spelled out how the school will handle a $2.1 million dollar budget cut next fiscal year.
In an email sent to faculty and staff Wednesday afternoon, Ransdell said that starting July 1, WKU will eliminate the budgets for the Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching—or FACET--and the Center of Excellence in the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences.
Recurring funding will end for the Provost’s Initiative for Excellence, and the budgets of the ALIVE Center and Institute for Citizenship and Social Responsibility will be combined.
WKU will close its center in Radcliff, and will operate programs previously held there at its campuses in Elizabethtown and Ft. Knox.
Earlier this week, President Ransdell said the school had found ways to deal with the budget cuts without eliminating jobs, although some positions could be shifted to other departments on campus.
Here is an excerpt from the email Dr. Ransdell sent Wednesday:
WKU employees impacted by departmental consolidations should know by Wednesday if they are affected by the moves.
For weeks, WKU President Gary Ransdell has been warning that the school was going to have to cut personnel in light of an expected $2.1 million dollar budget cut next fiscal year. But this week Dr. Ransdell said the school's vice-presidents were able to find ways to consolidate certain operations and departments without costing any jobs.
Dr. Ransdell says the school has been notifying those workers impacted by the changes this week. The WKU president said he will send an email to all faculty and staff either Wednesday or Thursday detailing the moves the school has made regarding consolidations.
Ransdell added he is happy the school has found a way to deal with the budget cut that didn't involve personnel or salary reductions.
WKU President Gary Ransdell says there will be no job losses next year related to the school’s upcoming budget cut. Dr. Ransdell had been warning that personnel reductions were likely following the Council on Postsecondary Education’s decision to allow a 3% in-state undergraduate tuition increase next year, instead of the 5% hike WKU had requested.
But in an email to WKU faculty and staff yesterday, Dr. Ransdell said “no one will lose their employment at WKU" despite the school having to cut $2.1 million from its budget.
The WKU president said some employees might be relocated to other departments during the next academic year. He also said some 200 faculty members will receive market-salary adjustments worth a total of $500,000.
As WKU prepares for budget cuts ahead of the next fiscal year, another Kentucky university is making plans ahead of its next budget.
The Eastern Kentucky University board of regents has approved a spending plan that includes a three-percent in-state undergraduate tuition increase and no raises for employees. The three-percent tuition hike is the maximum allowed by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
WKU President Gary Ransdell had asked the CPE for a five-percent undergraduate tuition increase, saying it was needed to help the school move forward without budget cuts.
Dr. Ransdell says WKU will now have to look at cuts that will include personnel reductions. WKU vice-presidents have given Ransdell preliminary plans for cuts in their departments.
The issue will be taken up by the school’s board of regents at their meeting in late June.