Regent to approve school, amend athletic contracts

Monica Kast

The Board of Regents will vote to approve the consolidation of several Ogden College departments, amendments of several athletic department employee contracts and the capital plan for the next six years at its meeting on Friday. 

Following approval from the academic affairs committee at the March committee meeting, the Board of Regents will vote on the approval to combine the departments of engineering, architectural and manufacturing sciences and computer science into the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

“The thing that’s really cool about this whole idea is that we go from three departments that function separately, like silos, to a unit where we can shake up the silos and create new synergistic opportunities,” Cheryl Stevens, dean of Ogden College, said at the committee meeting.

Stevens also said by creating one school, there would be increased opportunities for students to enter the workforce after graduating.

The consolidation was approved unanimously by the academic affairs committee at the March meeting, and will be voted on by the Board of Regents on Friday.

In March, President Gary Ransdell expressed his support, saying “these kinds of consolidations really bode well for us in the future.”

“This is very strategic in positioning us to recruit and retain and graduate students,” Ransdell said. 

The agenda also lists approval of the budget reallocation plan, which was presented to the Board at its committee meeting in March to balance the university’s budget after a $6.5 million tuition shortfall. The plan includes reallocating carry forward money and one-time money from the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach.

Additionally, addendums will be up for approval for several athletic employment contracts. Travis Hudson, head coach for women’s volleyball, Jason Neidell, head coach for women’s soccer, and Michelle Clark-Heard, head coach for women’s basketball, will have amendments made to their current employment contracts.

Hudson, Neidell and Clark-Heard’s contracts will be extended to expire on June 30, 2021. Additionally, Clark-Heard will receive one month’s salary for “Conference USA Regular Season or Tournament Championship” and one month’s salary for “advancing to Round of 32 in NCAA Tournament,” according to the amendment.

Clark-Heard’s addendum was not presented at the March committee meetings, but all three contracts are recommended for approval by Ransdell.

The Board of Regents will also vote to approve the university’s six-year capital plan. The plan outlines projects to be completed on campus and estimated costs.

According to the agenda packet, “this plan places a focus on restoring the architectural integrity of our campus and emphasizes capital renewal, renovation of existing facilities and upgrading our campus infrastructure.”

The top priority on the capital plan is constructing a new Gordon Ford College of Business and renovating Grise Hall, estimated to cost $120.1 million paid for by state bonds.

Additionally, the Board of Regents will vote on approving a Student Residency Policy, which will be used to “for determining the residency status of a student who is seeking admission to, or who is enrolled at, a state-supported postsecondary education institution,” according to the agenda. The agenda also states that residency status is determined “based on information submitted by the applicant,” and that status is available to view on TopNet.

The Board of Regents will also vote on renaming Mass Media and Technology Hall to Jody Richards Hall, after former WKU faculty member and Kentucky Representative Walter A. “Jody” Richards.

Richards was a WKU faculty member for seven years as well as an adviser for the College Heights Herald and the Talisman. Additionally, Richards helped create the WKU alumni magazine.

The Board of Regents will meet on Friday at 9 a.m.  in the Mass Media and Technology Hall.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at (270) 745-0655 or [email protected]