WKU

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.

WKU

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.

WKU Athletics

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.

Bevars led North Hardin to three Sweet 16 semi-finals appearances, and lost the 1982 state championship on a half-court, game-winning buzzer-beater by Laurel County’s Paul Andrews.

Northern Kentucky University

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.

A WKU-bound high school senior has been named the Gatorade Kentucky Baseball Player of the Year.

Henderson County third baseman and outfielder Kaleb Duckworth is batting .447 with seven home runs, 35 runs batted in, and 38 stolen bases. The Gatorade player of the year award is given annually to a player who demonstrates athletic excellence, academic accomplishments, and exemplary character.

Duckworth, who has a 3.8 G.P.A., will enroll in WKU this fall.

Duckworth and his Henderson County High School teammates are taking on Christian County Tuesday in the semifinals of the Second Region Tournament.

Emil Moffatt

Next to Western Kentucky University’s main dining hall a red, metal cardboard crusher – one of three on campus, flattens a mess of card board boxes into a tightly-compacted bunch ready to be hauled away. But cardboard is just part of the equation. Throughout campus, there are hundreds of recycling bins, encouraging students and staff to reduce the amount of trash WKU puts into landfills.

“Anything the university no longer wants that is not in a trash can,” said Sara Hutchison, WKU’s recycling and surplus coordinator. “That can be cardboard and the single-stream recycling, which includes the aluminum cans, tin cans like a Campbell’s soup can; plastic bottles; mixed paper – magazines, newspaper, office paper.”

Hutchison is our tour guide for an inside look at what happens to all of the discarded by-products of a college campus.  

Abbey Oldham/WKU Public Radio

If you’re up late Friday night – or early Saturday morning, you could be in store for a dramatic light show in the sky.  Dr. Richard Gelderman, director of WKU’s Hardin Planetarium says we could see the best meteor shower of the year – possibly the decade.

“A comet has just passed near the sun and we are about to run into its trail,” said Gelderman.  “That’s going to probably be a whole lot of dust. It’s going to come when the moon is not going to be in the sky, so it will be nice and dark and it will come when our part of the earth is slamming right into the dust stream.”

Gelderman says the best time to view the comet will likely be between midnight and 2 a.m. central time Saturday morning, but he notes those time estimates aren’t always precise.

American Climber Science Program

A WKU professor says he fell into a crevasse on a mountain in Nepal but managed to crawl to his tent despite broken ribs and an arm before being rescued the next morning.

Geography and Geology Professor John All said Thursday he thought he was going to die after falling 70 feet into the crevasse with no hope of rescue. It took him six hours to crawl out of the hole and another three hours to reach his tent and spent the night in pain before rescuers reached him the next morning.

All and his team had moved to Mount Himlung in north central Nepal because Mount Everest was closed last month after 16 Sherpa guides died in an avalanche.

American Climber Science Program

Update at 6:02 a.m.:

A WKU professor who fell into a 70-foot crevasse in the Himalayan mountains is recovering at a hospital in Nepal after being rescued by a helicopter.

Dr. John All was conducting climate research at Mount Himlung when he fell into the crevasse and suffered a broken arm, broken ribs, and internal bleeding.

According to a report in the Himalayan Times, Dr. All underwent treatment at Norvic International Hospital in Kathmandu. The helicopter mission that rescued Dr. All was conducted by the group Global Rescue, which led the operation from its operations centers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Thailand.

The WKU Geography and Geology Professor moved his expedition to Mount Himlung after a deadly avalanche shut down the 2014 climbing season on Mount Everest.

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