WKU is beginning to prepare its employees for likely changes to the school’s health plan. At a forum Wednesday afternoon, representatives from the school’s Human Resources Department told workers that WKU’s self-funded model is coming under significant strain.
The school says it saw a 13.3 percent increase in medical expenses in 2013 compared to the previous year, with expenses exceeding revenue by more than $2 million.
WKU is predicting that unless changes are made, the school’s health plan expenses could increase by 8 to 10 percent in 2015.
No definitive announcement was made, however, about whether employee premiums or deductibles will be increasing. Speaking to WKU Public Radio after the forum, Assistant Director of Human Resources Kari Aikins described the school’s timeline for announcing any changes.
“We’re going to continue to evaluate and model these options financially over the next month, month-and-a-half, and then start making some formalized recommendations to our leadership and President--through our benefits committee--and hopefully have something set in stone by the end of August,” Aikens said.
WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart speaks about the move to Conference USA.
After 32 years as a member of the Sun Belt Conference, WKU has now officially become a member of the newly re-aligned, 14 member Conference USA. It's a move Athletic Director Todd Stewart has been working toward for several years, but even he admits it's a high-risk, high-reward situation.
Stewart spoke with Joe Corcoran about leaving the comforts of the Sun Belt for the new challenges ahead.
The WKU Board of Regents has voted to privatize the campus Health Services center. Graves Gilbert Clinic will take over operations ahead of the fall semester.
The idea of giving up control of the health center was first announced by WKU President Gary Ransdell in March. Privatizing the health center that serves students, faculty, and staff gave the school nearly $1.1 million in relief for the budget that went into effect July 1.
None of the three doctors or one nurse practitioner currently employed by the school will be kept on after the health center changes management.
WKU Vice President for Finance and Administration said at Thursday morning's regents meeting that Graves Gilbert will make decisions on whether or not to retain the center's remaining employees within 10 days of the contract being finalized.
Mead added both parties have a lot to do in a short amount of time.
“We’ll be moving into helping Graves Gilbert transition to opening on Aug. 1. We want to facilitate Graves Gilbert’s family practitioners to be able to meet our leadership on campus, and start having the campus understand what services are going to be provided at our on-campus facility.”
The WKU Board of Regents is delaying a vote to privatize the campus Health Services Center.
At a meeting Thursday morning, board members requested that the university provide them with more information about the proposed agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic. Regents specifically asked for copies of the “request for proposal” that was submitted to those interested in bidding on the health services contract.
The university announced earlier this year it would seek to privatize its health services operation, in an effort to save nearly $1.1 million in the 2014-15 operating budget.
Regent John Ridley of Bowling Green says today’s move by the board should not be seen as a vote of no confidence in either the proposed contract or the school’s administration. Instead, Ridley says the regents want to make sure they’ve had time to thoroughly review the proposal and have any questions answered before a vote is taken.
“The issue is that we have a board responsibility when we’re about to enter into a contractual arrangement, and if anyone has a question we need to get it answered, and then everybody’s happy,” Ridley said after the meeting.
Faculty Regent Dr. Patti Minter said it’s important that the regents make sure any and all concerns are addressed before conducting a vote on such an important matter.
Members of the WKU Board of Regents will vote Thursday morning on a contract with Graves-Gilbert Clinic to run the school's Health Services.
WKU announced earlier this year it was seeking to privatize the campus facility that serves students, faculty, and staff. The university estimates such a move would cut nearly $1.1 million from the 2014-15 operating budget.
Under the agreement to be voted on Thursday, GGC would use about 47 percent of the facility, with WKU continuing to utilize the remainder of the building.
The special called meeting of the WKU Board of Regents begins at 10 a.m. Thursday, in the Cornelius A. Martin Regents Room on campus.
In a campus-wide email sent earlier this week by WKU Health Services, it was announced that the three doctors and one nurse practitioner on staff would not be retained by GGC.
The last day those employees will see patients is July 24.
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.
A former Henderson County star and future WKU Hilltopper has been named Kentucky’s co-Mr. Baseball.
Third-baseman and outfielder Kaleb Duckworth recently graduated from school after hitting for a .450 average, with 40 runs scored and 35 runs batted in. Duckworth is sharing Mr. Baseball honors with Devin Hairston of Tates Creek, marking the first time there has been a tie for the award.
Duckworth led the Henderson County Colonels to back-to-back state semifinal appearances in 2012 and 2013. He committed to play his college baseball at WKU following his junior season, when he led the state in home runs and stolen bases.
Duckworth was also recently named Kentucky's Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year.
The Presidents of Kentucky’s Council on Postsecondary Education and Western Kentucky University are among those joining a nationwide coalition in support of the Common Core State Standards.
CPE President Bob King and WKU’s Gary Ransdell are pledging their support to the group Higher Ed for Higher Standards. Along with Dr. Ransdell, four other university presidents in Kentucky joined the group: Eli Capilouto of the University of Kentucky, Tim Miller of Murray State, Michael Benson of Eastern Kentucky, and Wayne Andrews of Morehead State.
Nine Kentucky Community and Technical College presidents are also members of the coalition.
The goal of the Common Core is to create consistent educational standards across states and to make sure those graduating high school are ready to enter either post-secondary education institutions or the workforce. Higher Ed for Higher Standards say it believes Common Core standards will help universities reduce the number of students who have to enroll in remedial classes once they’re on campus, as well as increase graduation rates.
“I agree with the Council on Postsecondary Education and with the Kentucky Department of Education, in that these standards set a level of expectation of our students, and of their teachers, and of their parents for support, that we need to keep our country up with world education standards," said Dr. Kris Williams, President of Henderson Community College and a member of the coalition.
Opponents of Common Core says the standards present a “one size fits all” approach to education. Last month, the Indiana Board of Education voted to scrap the state’s Common Core program and implement a new set of educational standards.
You can read NPR's FAQ page about the Common Core standards here.
A former WKU basketball star is being honored for her prolific high school career.
Crystal Kelly is a member of the Kentucky High School Athletic Association Hall of Fame’s Class of 2015, which was announced Sunday.
Kelly was named Kentucky’s Ms. Basketball in 2004, after leading Sacred Heart to three straight state championships. Kelly went on to become WKU’s all-time women’s leader in points and rebounds, and was taken by the Houston Comets in the 2008 WNBA draft.
Another member of the KHSAA Hall of Fame Class of 2015 is Ron Bevars, who coached at North Hardin High School in Radcliff for 38 seasons. Bevars retired in 2013 after racking up 805 wins, the fourth-most in Kentucky high school basketball history.
The newest appointee to the Kentucky Legislative Ethics Commission comes with an undergraduate degree from WKU and bipartisan support.
Henry Stephens has been a professor at the Chase School of Law at Northern Kentucky University since the early 1980s. He received his bachelor’s degree from WKU in 1975 before earning his law degree from UK.
On Monday, he was appointed to the state’s legislative ethics commission by both Democratic House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Republican Senate President Robert Stivers. Stephens’ appointment fills a spot that’s been vacant for two years.
The commission came under fire earlier this year when not all members were present to hear the first ethics trial of former state representative John Arnold. Arnold was found guilty of sexual harassment at a second trial, although he continues to deny the charges against him.
Vernie McGaha resigned from the commission earlier this year and he was replaced in May by former state Sen. Charlie Borders.