Faculty Senate discusses scholarship model, approves paid parental leave policy

Lily Burris

The Faculty Senate Meeting on Thursday included an update on WKU’s scholarship model and  the approval of the new paid parental leave policy.

After updates from Faculty Senate Chair Julie Shadoan, Vice Chair Dan Clark and Secretary Laura Bohuski, the senate received an up on the new scholarship model. 

Lauren McClain, sociology and criminology professor and faculty welfare and professional responsibilities committee chair, brought the paid parental leave policy to the Faculty Senate. She mentioned her experience with WKU’s lack of parental leave and how she’s heard of other people’s experiences. 

The policy would allow faculty to take 16 consecutive semester weeks off work after the birth of adoption of a child. Previously, each person’s leave depended on their department head. The policy would be the first of its kind in the state of Kentucky, McClain said.

“We wanted to have it open so that if the baby came mid-semester that you could have the option of taking the leave that would cross two semesters and then working 16 semester-weeks instead,” McClain said.

McClain also pointed out that the policy covers women, men, and same-sex partners. It also includes births and adoptions. 

The Faculty Senate approved the policy with two slight amendments to make the policy easier to understand.

Brian Kuster, vice president for enrollment and student experience, explained the new model that will be effective next year and mentioned that changes to the model were not over.

“The model is really based on actions that would increase opportunity and access for your students, and also, obviously increase net tuition,” Kuster said.

The key points from this new model are the elimination on the ACT requirement on most scholarship spaces, the minimum amount was increased and created a new band with a lower GPA eligibility range, Kuster said. The new model works to help students financially.

When asked about where the money was going to come from, Kuster pointed to net tuition from enrollment and increased retention. He said that the consulting firm that pointed out that changing the merit system would have a “positive effect on the net tuition.”

“If we recruit a student that is more likely to graduate than someone that’s not, then we’ll have that net tuition over a four-year period,” Kuster said.

Provost Cheryl Stevens pointed out that merit model is a discount on tuition that helps make WKU more competitive. When concerns were raised about less people available to go to college, Kuster was ready to answer.

“We’re doing multiple things this year to look at how we recruit, who we recruit and where we recruit,” Kuster said. 

Kuster addressed that fact the WKU is working on an enrollment plan and questions the senators had about the scholarship model such as extending the scholarship availability past four years and who this model would benefit.

Stevens gave a report to the Faculty Senate discussing goals for the year in relation to goals she had made over the summer at an event with the President. Will Harris, student body president, also gave a quick update to the Faculty Senate about a few things going on with the Student Government Association.

The Faculty Senate also discussed some tabled business from the last meeting. Beth Laves, associate vice president for the division of extended learning and outreach, presented more information on a policy change relating to some new definitions within DELO.