WKU community speaks to administration about budget reduction at forum

Staff, faculty, and student meet with President Gary Ransdell and regents and deans to discuss the actions that are being taken to balance WKU’s budget. The reductions included consolidation of ICSR, reductions to track and field athletic programs and moving grounds crew and housing keeping staff to an outsource company affecting around 202 full-time employees. Matt Lunsford/HERALD

Monica Kast

The Administrative Council and department of human resources hosted a budget forum on Thursday afternoon in Downing Student Union, where students, faculty and staff were able to ask questions about the budget reduction plan announced earlier this week.

President Gary Ransdell opened up the forum by offering background on the state budget cuts that have been talked about since January. Ransdell said that at the beginning of the year, he was optimistic about the state budget. That changed, however, when Governor Bevin announced cuts to higher education.

“The whole world changed in terms of our perspective on our financial circumstance,” Ransdell said. “Fast forward, we spent most of this legislative session, instead of playing offence, trying to capture additional funding in the state budget process.”

Ransdell also mentioned that since 2009, WKU has had approximately $36.5 million dollars taken from their expenditures. That amount has been offset by tuition increases and other sources, but has still been a loss for the university.

Ransdell said that the administrative council’s priority with the budget reduction plan was to protect credit-bearing academic programs, personnel, and essential student services. He said that there were 24 programs that will be affected, by either elimination or consolidation.

A major part of the budget reduction plan is the transfer of WKU custodial, building services, groundskeeping and waste management from the Bowling Green campus to Sodexo, a privately owned employment management system. As a result, Ransdell said that 202 employees were able to keep their jobs. 

Employees who will be transferred to Sodexo were able to ask questions and get clarifications about the change, and Ransdell and Provost David Lee were there to answer them. Employees were told that they would individually be able to meet with representatives from Sodexo, and issues would be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

“Regardless of who signs the paycheck, they still work for WKU,” Ransdell said of employees who will be working under Sodexo.

Students and employees from ICSR and the Alive Center were also there to voice concerns about the consolidation of those two departments. Students offered concerns that by decreasing the staff, new issues would arise.

Lee said that he was optimistic about the consolidation, and thought that the two areas would function well together.

Lee also touched on replacing interim administrative positions, and said that the searches would begin at the beginning of the next semester.

More coverage of the budget forum is available on the Herald’s Twitter, and will be expanded on in the next edition of the paper.