Board of Regents spending budget exceeds $100,000

President Timothy Caboni speaks on the university’s 2018-2028 strategic plan, which was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents during its meeting on Friday.

Natasha Breu

The Board of Regents spending budget for the current and last two fiscal years shows the total amount of money spent on different expenses, and several categories are apparently over budget.

Stacey Garrett, budget director of the WKU Division of Finance and Administration, said the budget for the board comes from the overall WKU budget.

The total budgets for the 2017, 2018 and 2019 fiscal years all exceed $100,000, with costs going toward expenses such as wages, insurance, office supplies, food products, postage, departmental books and travel. The amount of money spent on food, postage and office supplies all exceeded the budget for the past two fiscal years.

The Board of Regents is made up of 11 members, with one staff, faculty and student representative, according to WKU’s website. The faculty and staff regents serve a three-year term. The other eight regent positions are appointed by the governor and serve for two six-year terms.

The board sets annual tuition for WKU and recently increased the tuition from $5,301 to $5,401 at the last quarterly meeting on March 1. At the same meeting, the board approved a salary increase for athletic director Todd Stewart from $204,132 to $270,000.

The board has four quarterly meetings, four committee meetings and occasional special called meetings.

Food products exceeded the consecutive $3,018 budget by about $200 in 2017 and about $1,700 in 2018. The budget for postage in 2017 was $240.22 and it was exceeded by about $1,700, and the budget in 2018 was $150 and was exceeded by about $500.

The budget for office supplies in 2017 was $238 and was exceeded by about $700, and the budget was $238 in 2018 and was exceeded by about $30.

Claus Ernst, the board’s faculty regent, said he was surprised the total amount for each fiscal year exceeded $100,000. For food expenses, Ernst said the money goes toward lunch during meetings and the Christmas dinner provided annually, and the members get their travel paid for.

“People who come from out of town get their travel reimbursed,” Ernst said. “The governor called a Board of Regents meeting in Louisville, and I got $70 for gas.”

He said board regent George Nichols flies in to each meeting, and it costs money to put him in a hotel. He also said Julia McDonald, the financial manager for the board, handles each reimbursement.

The miscellaneous category on the 2018 budget included charges to Uber, Blaze Pizza, McDonald’s and Aramark. The budget for 2018 was $257.88 and was exceeded by about $350.

The board also gets worker’s compensation, and in 2017 the full budget of $320.46 was used, while in 2018 the budget was $324.94, and $393.72 was used. Other charges include floral arrangements, printing, computer maintenance and long-distance phone charges.

Other board responsibilities include discussing and approving the overall WKU budget, overseeing academic affairs and hiring.

In a response to the 2017-2018 Faculty Work Life Survey, 30 percent of faculty strongly disagreed the Board of Regents made academics a top priority, and almost 130 faculty disagreed it was upholding “its responsibility to ensure that the institution’s resources are dedicated to the institution’s mission.”

News reporter Natasha Breu can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @nnbreu.