Higher Education

Education
1:44 pm
Wed September 17, 2014

Kentucky Higher Education Leaders Consider Funding Formula Based Partly on Performance

Schools like WKU are preparing for a possible move to a performance-based funding model for higher education.
Credit 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.

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Education
1:46 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

New Centre College Scholarship Program Targets First-Generation Students

Centre College in Danville, Ky.
Credit 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.

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Education
8:44 am
Wed September 3, 2014

Kentucky Making Progress Toward Top 20 National Status in Education

Credit 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. 

Education
11:50 am
Fri August 22, 2014

Ransdell Implores Campus Community to Do Everything Possible to Retain Students

Dr. Bruce Kessler, head of WKU’s Department of Mathematics, received the 13th annual Spirit of WKU Award.
Credit Clinton Lewis/WKU

WKU President Gary Ransdell says it’s every employee’s job to help the school retain as many students as possible.

Addressing faculty and staff at Friday morning’s convocation at Van Meter Hall, Dr.Ransdell cited examples of academic progress, including an increase in the average ACT score of first-time baccalaureate students.

But he added that the school is still allowing too many students to leave campus without finishing their degrees.

“We are graduating just over 50 percent of our students in six years and we are still losing 25 percent of each freshman class within one year of their initial enrollment. So, for our students’ sake—if not for our own financial stability—please become part of the solution to keeping our students at WKU until they graduate.”

The WKU President said he was concerned about the value of the school’s remedial courses that many freshmen take. Ransdell added he’s worried the school is losing students who return home after their first semester with only three to six credit hours.

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Education
3:54 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

New Report Tracks Employment Outcomes of Graduates from Kentucky's Public Universities

Over 76 percent of those who earn a bachelor's degree from WKU are working in Kentucky within five years.
Credit WKU

The overwhelming majority of in-state students who get bachelor’s degrees from Kentucky’s public universities are remaining in the commonwealth.

A new report from the Center for Education and Workforce Statistics shows over 80 percent of Kentucky students who got a four-year degree from a state-funded school were working in the commonwealth a year later. On the other hand, only 30 percent of out-of-state students who graduate from Kentucky’s undergraduate programs stay in the commonwealth to work.

The report also gives a school-by-school breakdown of how many graduates stay in Kentucky versus those who leave the state, as well as a comparison of the average wages of each school’s degree holders.

You can see what the report had to say about the employment outcomes of WKU graduates here.

Charles McGrew, the executive director of the group behind the report, said schools can use the information to get a better idea of where their graduates are, and how they are doing.

“I think it’s difficult for faculty to know where all of their students go. Sometimes colleges do alumni surveys, but they may not be able to catch many of their alumni after the fact. So they don’t necessarily know how well they’re doing in the workforce, or possibly how long it takes to find a job, or whether they go on to graduate school,” McGrew told WKU Public Radio.

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Education
5:52 pm
Sun August 3, 2014

Amid Rising College Costs, A Defense Of The Liberal Arts

iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon August 4, 2014 8:18 am

The price of a college education is soaring in America; so is the amount of student loan debt. President Obama has proposed regulations that would cap student loan payments at 10 percent of a graduate's income, and according to the latest Labor Department data, about a third of recent college graduates are either underemployed or jobless.

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Education
11:41 am
Tue March 25, 2014

As Negotiations Enter Crucial Phase, Budget Funding for Higher Ed, University Projects Unclear

The Gatton Academy for Math and Science is housed at WKU.
Credit WKU

The budget passed by the Kentucky Senate this week has mixed news for WKU. Money for a capital project at the school was removed while other WKU-related funds were left intact.

The Senate’s budget deleted funding for most university capital projects, including bonds to fund a renovation of the Thompson Complex Center Wing, home to numerous WKU science classes.

However, the Senate budget does include funding for the Gatton Academy for Math and Science to support 80 additional students beginning in 2015.

The budget passed by the House includes bond funding for the Thompson Complex project and money to expand the Gatton Academy. But it also contains a 2.5 percent cut to higher education funding.

The Senate spending plan restored that higher education funding cut at the expense of most university capital projects.

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Education
6:00 am
Sat January 25, 2014

Why Do Students Drop Out of WKU? MAP-Works Is Looking for Answers

WKU administrators are hoping the MAP-Works system increases student retention rates.
Credit Kevin Willis

A program being used at WKU is providing a better idea of what can be done to prevent students from leaving school before completing their degree.

The MAP-Works system helps identify at-risk students who take a voluntary survey. Students who appear to be struggling receive direct intervention by WKU faculty and staff who direct the student to programs that can help with academic, financial, or health issues.

Lindsey Gilmore, with the WKU enrollment management office, says she assumed money problems would be the top reason why students drop out. But she says MAP-Works shows that’s not the case.

"Generally, what MAP-Works does is let us see about five top issues our students are facing per classification, and lack of financial confidence is always in the top five, but it’s never number one."

Gilmore says MAP-Works shows the biggest stressors for WKU students include homesickness, test anxiety, study habits, and low peer connections.

More than 5,400 WKU students have been contacted or met with in person this academic year about their survey results. Gilmore says the school is working to get more students to take the MAP-Works survey. A little over 27 percent of WKU students completed the survey last fall.

Education
12:52 pm
Fri January 24, 2014

Ransdell: WKU Not Expecting Big Tuition Hike to Counteract Proposed State Funding Cuts

WKU President Gary Ransdell
Credit WKU

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.

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Education
7:30 am
Wed January 16, 2013

Tennessee Given New Higher Education Goal, Adviser

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (in background)

Gov. Bill Haslam said he wants to set Tennessee on a path toward boosting college graduation rates from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.

Haslam has appointed Randy Boyd, chairman of wireless pet fence maker Radio Systems Corp., to help further that goal as his top higher education adviser.

Haslam said Boyd will join a working group tasked with finding ways to tackle what the governor called the "iron triangle" of affordability, access and quality issues for public colleges and universities in Tennessee.

The panel is made up the governor and the heads of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and Tennessee Board of Regents and the University of Tennessee systems.

Boyd will work full time but won't be paid.

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