Caboni addresses student retention and recruitment, budget in fall convocation

President Timothy Caboni speaks about the upcoming academic year during the 2019 faculty convocation ceremony in VanMeter Hall on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019.

Jack Dobbs

Student retention rates and recruitment were the main focus of WKU President Timothy Caboni’s speech at the WKU Fall Convocation. In his speech, Caboni said if the early numbers hold, WKU will see its highest retention rates since 2009. 

Caboni also mentioned that the percentage of returning students is one tenth of a percentage point away from being the highest rate in the university’s history.

“We did not achieve these results only by ensuring those we admitted were likely to continue into the second year,” Caboni said. “We targeted students we knew would struggle and proactively and intrusively worked to support them.”

Caboni went on to mention that in order to reach a goal of 80% retention, the Summer Scholars program was created and was introduced this summer.

In this program, Caboni said that high school students performing at an average level spent five weeks on WKU’s campus, where they earned credit hours and became acclimated to life at WKU.

“We essentially created a bridge from high school to the first year,” Caboni said.

Caboni also said that out of the 142 students admitted into the Summer Scholars program, 116 met the requirements to come to WKU this fall. 

In Caboni’s speech, praise was also directed at the recent recruitment efforts made in the Nashville and Middle Tennessee area. 

“We’re working hard to overcome the invisible line that separates Tennessee and Kentucky, to position WKU as part of that region’s college choices,” Caboni said.

Caboni also praised the Resource Allocation, Management and Planning (RAMP) budget model that WKU has employed. Under the RAMP model, funding is allocated according to enrollment— higher enrollment figures results in more funding.

“I want to make sure everyone understands we will continue to press forward with our efforts creating linkages between resource allocations, strategic priorities and student success.”

Caboni went on to say that the new RAMP model has allowed for greater transparency and has helped auxiliary and support units focus more on academic function. According to a presentation by Huron, the group that presented the RAMP model to WKU, the model will “address current financial trends, which includes declines in student enrollment and sponsored programs.”

Caboni ended his speech with recognizing members of the WKU staff that have won different awards, culminating with presenting Fabian Alvarez, an instructor in the English department, with the Spirit of WKU Award.

Caboni ended his speech with a look into WKU’s immediate future. Caboni invoked the Ten Year Strategic Plan as a guiding force behind WKU.

“We have the capacity to reinvest in ourselves and we have a business model to support our academic mission.”

Reporter Jack Dobbs can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @jackrdobbs.