Board names preferred presidential candidate

Tim Caboni became WKU’s 10th president July 1. On his first workday, he ensured his tenure will consist of transparency and collaboration. Kansas University 

WKU Herald Staff

The Board of Regents has selected a preferred candidate for the next university president and will take its final vote on Friday, according to university officials.

Preferred candidate Tim Caboni has served as the vice chancellor for public affairs at the University of Kansas since 2011. He has a master’s degree in Corporate and Organizational Communication from WKU,  graduating in 1994.

“I am humbled to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the presidency of WKU,” Caboni said in a press release.

During his time as KU’s vice chancellor  for Public Affairs, Caboni helped fundraise $50 million to support the construction of a new health education building at the University of Kansas Medical Center, according to his curriculum vitae.

WKU is currently in a joint agreement with the University of Kentucky and the Medical Center to host classes at the Medical Center campus. An RFP for a new Medical Center building was proposed last December, but no appropriate bids were received that matched its specifications.

Caboni noted that if chosen as university president, he would promote a focus on the health of Kentuckians.

“One of the great roles of WKU will be to provide for rural Kentucky and for the region those folks who are necessary to make sure every Kentuckians health is strong and better,” Caboni said.

WKU is one of three universities Caboni has publicly been made a candidate for university president in the last year. In March 2016, he was announced as a candidate for the president vacancy at Georgia Southern University. In November  2016, he was announced as a finalist for the same position at the Valdosta State University.

A former student nominated Caboni for the position at WKU; however, as an alumnus, he has had his eye on the vacancy since President Gary Ransdell announced his retirement last January.

“It is incredibly humbling to be returning to WKU and my alma mater in a way I couldn’t have understood until last night,” he said. “The number of people who have both wished me well and welcomed me back has been overwhelming.”

Caboni 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 corporate and organizational communication from WKU and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt University.

“For me, my WKU experience was both important and informative,” he said. “I use the work that I did there every single day in my current profession.”

Caboni is married to Kacy Schmidt-  Caboni who works for the University of Kansas Endowment Association.

“My wife has not yet been [to WKU], but I am excited to show her where I spent time and where I got my master’s degree,” he said.

The preferred candidate has also co-authored “Institutional Advancement: What We Know,  ” which evaluates empirical research on advancement of higher education.

Caboni will be visiting WKU for meetings and campus forums on January 25 and 26, according to university officials.

“One of the things I’ve talked about all along in this process is the importance of collaboration, cooperation, transparency, and I will bring that same conversation to campus next week,” he said.

The Board of Regents will make a final decision during its  quarterly meeting on January  27. Caboni is the only candidate who has been made public during the search process. A decision was never formally made on whether or not the presidential search would be open or closed.

The forums that will take place on January  26 include:

  • 9:30 a.m. Staff forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 1:30 p.m. Student forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 3 p.m. Faculty forum, Downing Student Union, 3002-3007
  • 5-6:30 p.m. Public/community reception, Augenstein Alumni Center, Robertson-Feix Ballroom

These forums will be followed by a public announcement and Media Q&A that will take place in the Augenstein Alumni Center Robertson-Feix Ballroom on January 27 at 2:30 p.m.

“I look forward to working with governance, with faculty, with staff and with students to figure out together what the shared aspirations for WKU and how we can do them together,” Caboni said.