Enrollment discussed, doctoral program approved at Regents meeting

Kae Holloway

After much anticipation, enrollment numbers for the fall semester were released last Friday.

Brian Meredith, chief enrollment officer, brought the official statistics from the fall census to the Board of Regents meeting Friday, Oct. 31. En- rollment stands at 20,178 students this semester — a drop of 278 students from last fall’s enrollment of 20,456 students.

“Undergraduate enrollment is flat with just a .3 percent difference, or 58 students, graduate is lagging just a lit- tle bit there and can pick up and we’re working on that,” Meredith said.

Undergraduate enrollment dropped from 17,517 last fall to 17,459 this fall. Graduate enrollment dropped from 2,939 last fall to 2,179 this fall, a difference of 7.5 percent, or 220 students.

President Gary Ransdell said that as far as undergraduate numbers, progress has been made. Graduate numbers, however, prove that work still needs to be done.

Meredith, Ransdell and other board members are hopeful that the higher ACT scores brought in by the current freshmen class will improve retention. Scores are up .6 points from last year’s class, raising to an average of 23.29 from 22.75.

“I’m confident that we will achieve the 75 percent retention rate targeted in our action plan for the current year,” Ransdell said.

Meredith also announced to the Board that part-time enrollment is down, a statistic he attributes to non-traditional students increasing their time in the workforce. However, KCTCS transfer student numbers are up.

“Typically transfer numbers come in in January strong, but we’re having a good steady pace of transfers this fall,” Meredith said. “We are sending academic advisors, financial aid counselors… to those schools on a regular, on going basis to advise those students.”

WKU has dual enrollment programs at seven KCTCS schools, a school in Evansville and another in Gallatin, Tennessee that Meredith said are aiding in making the transfer process to WKU easier.

The Enrollment Report also found that the number of Brazilian students enrolled at WKU increased 2,516.7 percent from last fall, growing from a population of six students to 157. The leap landed Brazil in the top three international enrollment countries, with Saudi Arabia topping the list and China in second.

Raza Tiwana, chief international officer of global recruitment, said that many of the Brazilian students are coming to WKU on full-ride scholarships. Bringing the students to the states has involved networking and relating to potential students abroad that WKU has something to offer and accommodate them. 

“The Brazil government actually has a scholarship program that they outsource… so it’s basically just making the connection with them,” Tiwana said. “(The students) are very highly motivated and high achievers.”

Meredith and Tiwana said the university can expect an increase in enrollment in students from the country of Oman, south of Saudi Arabia, next year.

During the meeting, the Board also approved of a new doctoral program for the psychology department, a doctorate of psychology in applied psychology.

“Our program is going to be focused mainly on folks who already have master’s degrees, so we will be bringing in people who have already had some training in psychology and giving them that extra step in getting that doctoral degree,” Rick Grieve, professor of clinical psychology, said. 

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Gordon Emslie said the program will have to go through approval and accreditation processes before it’s fully implemented and able to accept applicants. The program’s proposal will go through the Council on Postsecondary Education during their meeting on Nov. 21. The proposal will also be sent to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

“Because it’s a new degree type… SACS requires that we submit something that’s called a perspectives, that requires board approval before we submit to SACS,” Emslie said. 

The program would be able to accept students by fall 2015 and will accept 10 students.

“It’s a doctoral program, it’s really intense, so we won’t be admitting a hundred students at a time,” Emslie said.

Two professors, Lauren Notheisen, an art professor, and Lou-Ann Crouther, an English professor, were approved for emeritae status.

Other items on the agenda included presentations on the Forensics team, the Study Abroad program and successes of WKU social media. The Board also approved of personnel actions presented by the Finance and Budget Committee and the filing of the First Quarter Statement of Revenues and Expenditures was tabled.

The meeting concluded with the swearing in of Barbara Burch, newly elected faculty regent.

As stated in the Constitutional Oath of Office taken by all on the board, regents are not allowed to have dueled with deadly weapons, have plans to duel or have assisted in a duel in any way.

The room filled with a gentle laughter as Burch assured the group that she had never been in a duel with deadly weapons.

“I haven’t done that, but I’m not sure whether to say ‘I do’ or ‘I haven’t,’” she said. 

Burch, the former provost, ran unopposed in an election on Oct. 15.

“For me, I really do mean it when I say this is an honor,” Burch said of the position. 

Burch replaced Patricia Minter, who held the faculty regent position for seven years.

“I look forward to working more on my research, my scholarship,” Minter said. “It’s been a wonderful seven years. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve enjoyed being an advocate for the faculty and students.”

The Board is scheduled to meet again on Jan. 23, 2015.