Board of Regents approves budget in special meeting

SGA President Andi Dahmer is sworn into the Board of Regents as Student Regent. Dahmer said she is excited to be the voice for students and work with committees throughout her term. Rebekah Alvey/WKU Herald 

Rebekah Alvey

The Board of Regents approved the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Operating Budget this morning during a Special Budget Approval meeting.

Overall Ann Mead, senior vice president of Finance and Administration, said the budget is positive and an improvement from FY16-17. 

The budget for the fiscal year reflects a 2.8 percent increase of $413,651,000 from the FY16-17 operating budget of $402,252,000. 

Tuition and fees will make up 48.7 percent of the budgeted revenue in comparison to the FY16-17 it was 50.9 percent. Tuition will go up by 2.92 percent to $5,101. Mead said that the increase is a result of an increase in fixed costs and is relatively positive for students. 

Budgeted student financial assistance is projected to decline by $404,000 or 1 percent, according to the document, reflecting a reduction in Pell Grant. There is also a projected increase in College Access Program funds and the number of KEES eligible students. 

The amount budgeted for scholarships in the form of grants will increase by 7 percent which will preserve the value of awards for returning students.

“It keeps us in a good position for addressing the needs of students,” Mead said. 

Included in the FY17-18 budget is a new initiative related to professional advising. Mead said it would help students stay on track for degrees and get the best professional advice. 

Last year, President Gary Ransdell made a promise to employees for three one percent salary increases. Mead said Ransdell is fulfilling this promise in the budget by providing a salary increase for full-time employees.

Mead said this increase was made possible through the General Assembly’s approval of additional state funding for WKU in recognition of a lack of adequate funding for FY16-17.

Kentucky universities will move towards performance-based state funding starting in FY18-19 which allocates money towards institutions based on graduation and degree rates. Mead said WKU already knows how much it will earn and is excited because the university will earn $265,700 more than what they put into performance funding. 

“The only reason you are in that position is because you are doing a good job,” Mead said. 

The budget estimates $28,819,000 will be produced from Carry Forward Funds. The Carry Forward policy previously let programs determine how to use unspent money in an upcoming fiscal term. 

The policy was changed to push off allocation of carry forward money until the estimate for tuition is reached and will first go to make up for any budget shortfalls. 

Mead said allocations for Carry Forward money would be determined by the mid-fiscal year. Many departments have anxiety about receiving the necessary funds with the policy change, however, Mead said while they cannot determine official outcomes she said she believes everyone’s needs will be addressed.

There are also concerns about how the new policy will affect revenue-dependent programs. A revenue dependent program operates entirely on independently generated money by that program. Imagewest, the WKU Florist Shop, Division of Extended Learning and Outreach and the College Heights Herald are examples of these programs.

Mead said these programs are used to 100 percent of carry forward money being returned to them. Right now it is uncertain how much will be returned with the policy change. Mead said she had advised the department and program heads to give the policy change a chance. 

“We value the services they provide, and trust division heads will not impair their ability to deliver services,” Mead said. 

In addition to approving the budget, SGA President Andi Dahmer was sworn in as Student Regent. Dahmer said she is excited to be the student’s voice throughout her time on the Board. 

Dahmer said she believes students are going to feel impact of the budget cuts but the recently approved operating budget navigated the cuts as best as possible. 

Following the budget approval, the Board approved 2017-2018 Officer Appointments. Phillip Bale was elected as Chair, Gillard Johnson as Vice Chair, Frederick Higdon as Secretary and Ann Mead as Treasurer for the Board of Regents.

John Ridley was appointed as Academic Affairs committee chairperson, Gillard Johnson as FInance and Budget committee chairperson and Julie Harris Hinson as Student Affairs committee chairperson.

Following the Special Budget Approval meeting, the Academic Affairs and Finance and Budget Committees met.

In the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, the creation of seven certificates and minors were approved. These included an Economic Data Analytics, Addiction Education, Health Informatic, Public Health and Environmental Health graduate certificates and Computer Animation and Environmental Health minors. 

The Department of Family and Consumer Sciences’ name was changed to Department of Applied Human Sciences. The department is within the College of Health and Human Services. 

Dr. Albert Meier, a professor in the Department of Biology, was appointed as University Distinguished Professor which would go into effect the 2017-2018 academic year.

Jacqueline Pope-Tarrence, professor of Psychology, Richard Roberts, professor of Teacher Education, Frank Kersting, professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Melvin Borland, University Distinguished Professor of Economics and Richard Weigel, University Distinguished Professor of History were given Emeritus status by the Board of Regents. All of the recipients have served the university for at least ten years with distinguished records of achievement and service. 

In the Finance and Budget Committee meeting, the 2017-2018 Audit Plan was approved. The plan includes projects such as audits, management requested reviews, compliance reviews and continuous auditing projects.

Faculty and staff personnel actions were also approved during the meeting.

The third quarter statement of revenue and expenditures was reviewed and accepted by the Board and a quarterly internal audit report was provided by Jennifer Miller, Director of Internal Audits.

During the meeting, President Gary Ransdell was recognized for his 20 years served on the Board of Regents. Ransdell said it has been an honor working with the governing board and while there are serious challenges ahead, he has done what he needed to do. 

When Ransdell began his time as president 20 years ago, the operating budget was $130,070,900. The operating budget approved today was $413,615,000.

Ransdell said during his time, the campus has been rebuilt, academic strength has increased and there is a greater culture of philanthropy and gift support. 

“We raised our sight and pursued bold things,” Ransdell said. 

Reporter Rebekah Alvey can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].