WKU removes research administrator


Gordon Baylis will no longer be WKU’s vice president for Research, as he and the position will be “phased out.”

In an email forwarded to university staff, Baylis explained the change comes as a “cost-saving measure” in response to budget cuts.

According to published personnel documents, Baylis’s salary from 2014 to 2015 is $207,096, more than half of the nearly $393,465 spent on paid positions in the Office of Research.

In a separate response email, President Gary Ransdell said a portion of the money will help balance the budget, and the remainder will go to the Office of the Provost Gordon Emslie to “recreate our research leadership going forward.”

Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead will oversee Baylis’s division, and Dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering Cheryl Stevens will become interim president of Research. 

“To be clear, this does not signal a de-emphasis of research at WKU, rather it signals a greater engagement of the Division of Academic Affairs in the management of research activity at WKU,” Ransdell said. “With this action, undergraduate and graduate research will become a central function of Academic Affairs, reporting directly to the Provost.”

Baylis said he hopes the transition period will be smooth, and business with the department should be “business as usual.”

“I sincerely thank all my hard-working colleagues who have built a Division of Research that serves and supports the faculty, staff and students of WKU in an admirable manner,” he said in the email.

Baylis came to the university in 2010 from the University of South Carolina. He said he will return to teaching in the psychological sciences department.

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 a new research structure will come into play by April 1, after which Emslie can fill the newly-minted position. 

Baylis’s email, in its entirety, is as follows:

“Dear Colleagues

Effective immediately, the position of Vice President for Research will be phased out. This is being done as a cost-saving measure in response to budget cuts. After a transition period I will return to the faculty as a professor of psychological sciences. The entire administration is committed to ensuring that this transition is seamless and non-disruptive. So, for now, everything will be “business as usual” – your interactions with our offices should all proceed in the same way.

I sincerely thank all my hard-working colleagues who have built a Division of Research that serves and supports the faculty, staff and students of WKU in an admirable manner.

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. I applaud the faculty for their impressive scholarship and creative activities. A student-centered mission of research, creative activity, engagement, and economic development has taken root to serve our region.

Thank You

Gordon C. Baylis”

The Herald will update this story as more information becomes available.