Board of Regents names WKU’s 10th president

The Board of Regents votes for candidate Tim Caboni as the 10th president of Western Kentucky University on Friday at its quarterly meeting.

Herald Staff

After an unanimous vote by the Board of Regents Friday, Tim Caboni will become the university’s 10th president effective on July 1.

“The journey home sometimes is a very long one, but I tell you what, it is good to be back in Bowling Green, Kentucky,” Caboni said, who graduated from WKU with a master’s degree in 1994.

Caboni’s term will begin July 1, of this year and will extend for an initial period of four years according to his employment contract.

Caboni’s base salary will be $400,000 per year and will increase by the average percentage salary increase granted to WKU faculty. A performance-based bonus not exceeding 10 percent of the base salary may be granted annually at the discretion of the Board. Caboni will receive the same maximum benefits as current WKU faculty or administrators.

Board of Regents Chair Freddie Higdon introduced Caboni at the  press conference Friday afternoon after thanking the presidential search committee for the work and time they put into the process.

“We believe Dr. Caboni has the energy, the passion, the intellect and the skill to build on the progress that has been achieved over the last 20 years, and we are confident that he can lead WKU through the challenges we face as an institution,” Higdon said.

Higdon listed Caboni’s credentials, which include “an impressive 23-year career in higher education with a mix of experience as a faculty member, assistant dean and researcher, as well as a wealth of experience and expertise in external relations and fundraising.”

Caboni has served as the vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas since 2011. He has also served as the associate dean of the Peabody College of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University from 2005 to 2011.

His education includes a bachelor’s degree in speech communication and rhetoric from Louisiana State University, a master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication from WKU and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.

The Board of Regents selected Caboni as preferred candidate for the position before making its final decision at the quarterly meeting Friday. Caboni is the only candidate who was made public during the process.

After being announced as the preferred candidate, Caboni visited campus, meeting with university groups and speaking at forums with students, faculty and staff.

“I’ve said several times in multiple settings that great universities do three things,” Caboni said. “They inspire innovation, they transform lives and they enhance and expand and elevate communities.”

During his week on campus, Caboni spoke often of the transparency he plans to bring to his new position. One commitment he made is to have “presidential office hours” to give students a chance to meet with him to ask questions or voice concerns.

“I’ve always had an open-door policy, and I look forward to continuing that,” Caboni said.

At his press conference, Caboni spoke about how the university should handle budget issues.

“Budgets are value statements; what we fund is what’s important,” Caboni said. “At the same time, when we have reductions, we can’t do them across the board because that’s not strategic.”

Caboni said he promises to have a discussion together with the WKU community about what’s important when budget cuts arise. However, he added this kind of thinking is a scarcity mentality.

“It doesn’t have to be that way,” Caboni said. “If we recruit more students, if we retain more students, if we graduate more students, we’re going to have more resources, and the conversation is not going to be about where we make reductions. The conversation is going to be about where do we redeploy this excess. And that’s the conversation I really want to have as an institution.”

Caboni said he plans to keep the new Gordon Ford School of Business Building a priority as he begins in his new position. He also mentioned the need to refresh and rebuild residence halls to attract prospective students.

“Those are two things that we’ll to work on right out of the gate,” he said. “There are going to be a heck of a lot more.”