Preferred presidential candidate meets with University Senate

Jamie Williams

Preferred presidential candidate Tim Caboni met with the University Senate on Wednesday and took questions about WKU’s budget and government.

In addition to his meeting with the senate, Caboni has met with members of the Student Government Association and will have an open forum with students on Thursday. In his meetings so far with students and faculty, Caboni has emphasized shared governance and transparency with campus government.

“I want to be able to understand what WKU is today well enough to be able to sketch out, for all of us, what a strategic planning process looks like,” Caboni said.

One member of the senate asked how Caboni planned to work with Kentucky’s limited higher education budget. Caboni responded that in order to overcome a decreased budget, WKU should not rely on state funding each year and instead should find new ways to be more efficient.

“I think we’re seeing ourselves in the middle of a pretty watershed moment for higher education,” Caboni said. “That means we have to work differently. We have to be willing to innovate.”

Caboni suggested collaboration between departments, retaining freshmen and attracting more out-of-state students as possible ways to balance the budget.

“If we’re going to get things done, we can’t just wait for the state to open up its pocketbook again,” Caboni said. “I think we have to be innovative and creative and think differently about that.”

Caboni also discussed how faculty could help students and ensure students graduate on time. He suggested faculty members who teach regional campus classes should visit their students in person at least once.

“It doesn’t matter where you are — if you’re here, if you’re in Elizabethtown, if you’re in Owensboro — if you’re a Hilltopper, you’re a Hilltopper,” Caboni said.

Caboni acknowledged students often go through hardships on their way to getting a degree, and advised faculty to be mindful of how they can negatively affect students. In addition, he said the faculty’s job is to ensure every student graduates within four years, and faculty must make sure its actions support that effort.

Finally, Caboni fielded concerns about shared governance, saying that he plans to be transparent and will collaborate with faculty. He hopes that faculty will convey exciting goals and will communicate plans on how to achieve them.

“My vision for the university doesn’t really matter because it’s just mine,” he said. “What matters is what we create collectively.”

Reporter Jamie Williams can be reached at 270-745-6011 and [email protected].