WKU President Gary Ransdell, in an email to faculty and staff Thursday morning, announced that Barbara Burch has been elected as the school's new Faculty Regent.
The former WKU Provost will be sworn in as a regent at the board's Oct. 31 meeting. The Faculty Regent position was previously held by History Professor Patti Minter, who chose not to seek another term.
Dr. Burch is currently a professor with WKU's Educational Leadership doctoral program.
In his email, Dr. Ransdell also said "that the Council on Postsecondary Education (CPE) has requested a formal all-encompassing ruling with regard to faculty, staff, and student regent elections at all public institutions as those elections relate to employee relationships of immediate family members. This is not our request, but CPE has made the request with our encouragement. We want to be sure that clarity in these elections is the norm in the future. I would expect this ruling to be rendered in a few weeks."
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.
The WKU faculty regent says she is hearing a great deal of concern from her colleagues concerning the new contract awarded to the school's football coach. History Professor Patti Minter was the lone voice of dissent at Friday's Board of Regents meeting when coach Bobby Petrino's $850,000 dollar contract was approved.
"Decisions like this hire demonstrate that WKU is still committed to funding entertainment at all costs, even as our enrollment flattens, our debt load expands, and our sources of new revenue dry up," Dr. Minter told the Board.
"To state the obvious, WKU must put the money into the academic mission and recognize the faculty and staff who fulfill it are as important as brick-and-mortar and extra-curricular concerns, because when funding is scarce, non-academic projects and extra-curriculars do not teach students, engage in research or public service, or retain the students which is obviously the key to our financial future."
No other regents commented on Minter's statements or the contract before the vote was taken.
After Petrino's contract was approved, Dr. Minter told WKU Public Radio her vote wasn't meant as a slight against athletics, but is instead a protest against what she sees as misplaced priorities at the school.