WKU to leave national education organization


The WKU administration is discontinuing its membership with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

The AASCU serves as a national organization which offers various assistance to higher education groups, including lobbying help, grant information and other opportunities for development.

Provost Emeritus and faculty regent Barbara Burch initially noted the change in her notes to the last faculty senate meeting. Burch was absent from senate discussion, but chairperson Margaret Crowder noted the attachment had been uploaded to the online agenda.

Burch called the decision “short-sighted,” saying the benefits were worth the $22,000 per year fee.

“I am proud of us as a leading American university, and the fact is we’re a comprehensive university who is also a research university,” she said, mentioning the categories of universities serviced by AASCU. “If we are to be perceived as a leading American university, I don’t understand how we can disassociate ourselves from this group.”

Burch also noted that “every other comprehensive institution in KY, and the KY Higher Education Commission, are active member[s] of AASCU,” according to her senate attachment.

President Gary Ransdell said the cut was reactive after years of shrinking budgets from state legislatures, cuts that have cost WKU more than $18 million.

“Frankly we looked at our lists of memberships and it was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars,” he said. “When we go through budget cut procedures, this one failed to make the cut…”

Ransdell said the $22,000 per year price tag for membership outweighed the benefits.

“There’s value to the organization,” he said. “We just question if there’s $22,000 worth of value. We were just finding other means to capture information that’s important to us. With everything you look for a return on an investment.”

The AASCU’s mission statement said the member colleges are “student-focused, committed to programs and policies that place students at the heart of their institution,” according to its website.

Both Burch and Ransdell noted the AASCU is mostly a “presidential organization,” meaning university presidents and officials were typically the ones congregating at meetings and conventions. However, Ransdell said involvement over the years had been waning.

“We’re members of other organizations that are more critical to our university performance and aspiration and this was one that we just determined,” Ransdell said.

Burch’s senate notes mentioned Provost Gordon Emslie informed her of the changes. Emslie declined to comment.