Research administrator ‘phased out’

Jessica Voorhees

WKU eliminated the position of vice president for Research held by Gordon Baylis, but the Office of Research will operate as usual this semester despite the cut. 

The responsibilities of the position will be distributed to various administrators. 

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, split the responsibilities in the interim with Ann Mead, senior vice president for Finance and Administration.

“I wish to stress that other than the above changes at the Vice-President level, the Office of Research is, for the most part, in a ‘business as usual’ mode,” Emslie said in an email to faculty.

Cheryl Stevens, dean of Ogden College, serves as interim president of the WKU Research Foundation. 

A committee consisting of individuals from the existing Research Council and the Office of Research formed to make recommendations by mid-spring for a new administrative structure for the research operation. 

The University Senate also formed a committee to study the research enterprise at WKU and to work with the Research Council group in making structural decisions for the program. 

The university removed the position in response to budget cuts. 

Baylis’ salary was $207,096 for this fiscal year. Kim Reed, budget director, said about $59,000 is being used to balance the current fiscal budget, while the remaining bulk has been given to the Office of the Provost to help create a research leadership position yet to be named. 

This isn’t WKU’s first administrative cut in order to buoy the budget. Last spring, President Gary Ransdell restructured three positions within the administrative council to absorb the responsibilities of Vice President of Campus Services and Facilities John Osborne, who retired in May 2014.

Ransdell said he wanted Academic Affairs to have more presence in research.

“We need further engagement of the academic community in our research dynamic, so I want the academic community to not only be fully engaged, but also to be more accountable in involving faculty in research activity,” he said.

Baylis notified faculty of the changes via email, thanking his colleagues and mentioning his return to the university as a professor. 

“This is unfortunate, but I would like to think that this will not compromise the progress that everyone has made: a spirit of creativity and entrepreneurialism is firmly established at WKU,” he said.