Salary reimbursement announced at final Board of Regents meeting of the semester

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Sean Snyder

The WKU Board of Regents met Friday where the Regents discussed faculty salary reimbursement, enrollment and strategic plans for next semester. 

President Tim Caboni announced full reimbursement of withheld funds from the 10% faculty salary decrease. The decrease in salary was made out of fear of possible financial repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision comes at the end of a successful semester of budget cuts and low COVID-19 numbers.

“Enrollment stability, coupled with reduced spending across the university, has elevated WKU to a strong financial position as we enter the second half of the fiscal year 2021,” Caboni said in a release after the meeting. “I am so proud of the way in which our faculty and staff came together to do what’s in the best interest of our institution and our students.”

Faculty should expect full payment for December, and withheld funds from July through November will be reimbursed as soon as feasibly possible. Caboni made it clear that there is currently no plan to reinstate the salary cuts.

“In order to continue to meet and exceed our budget targets through the end of the fiscal year, we must remain diligent throughout the spring semester in the execution of the same hiring and controlled spending practices,” Caboni said. 

The Board of Regents also discussed COVID-19 related plans for the spring semester such as recruitment and initiatives for student morale and health. 

One continuing initiative the board discussed is the Student COVID-19 Taskforce, a diverse group of students nominated by officials to serve as information channels for various organizations. The task force meets every two weeks to discuss COVID-19 issues on campus like enforcing Healthy on the Hill and maintaining student morale.

“We all have the same goal of staying on campus and having a positive experience,” task force member Will Downing said in a video presentation. “Students have been home for months which takes a toll on your mental health and spirit. The goal is for them to see their friends safely.”

The taskforce helped implement the Healthy Hilltopper Pledge all students and staff had to take earlier this semester and regularly seek new ways of keeping numbers low. The task force members also act as influencers on campus by implementing social normative strategies for COVID-19 health guidelines. 

The board discussed other ways of keeping spirits high by utilizing information channels such as highlighting the new Parent and Family Portal launched back in April. The website acts as a social media for nearly 22,000 WKU Parents and alumni to ask questions about COVID-19, registration, and upcoming events.

“Sixty-two percent of parents say they want information on their child’s school weekly or biweekly,” Sharon Hunter, assistant director of Housing and Residence Life, said. “Parents can ask questions anywhere on the website and a verified student or staff member will respond. This is the easiest way for parents to be informed of what’s happening at their schools in the midst of a pandemic.”

Sean Snyder can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @seanwsnyder