Regent sworn in, enrollment numbers announced at Board of Regents meeting

Kae Holloway

The room filled with a gentle laughter as Barbara Burch, newly elected faculty regent, 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. 

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.

Burch, the former provost, ran unopposed in an election on Oct. 15 and was sworn in during the Board of Regents meeting held on Oct. 31. 

“165 faculty voted and I know at first blush that may not seem like a large number, but… it only takes one vote so actually I’m quite impressed that 165 faculty chose to vote in the election, affirming their support for Dr. Burch,” President Gary Ransdell said. 

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.”

Prior to Burch’s Oath of Office, the respective committees of the Board gave their reports for Board approval and discussion.

During the Academic Affairs Committee report, Chief Enrollment Officer Brian Meredith released and discussed enrollment numbers for the fall semester. According to the report, 20,178 students are enrolled this fall, a difference of 278 students from last fall. 17,459 of those make up the undergraduate class, with the remaining 2,719 creating the graduate class.

“Undergraduate (enrollment) is flat with just a .3% difference, graduate is lagging… we’re working on that,” Meredith said.

Despite these numbers, Meredith and the Board expressed hopefulness that higher ACT scores for the current freshmen class will result in higher retention rates for the spring semester.

“Progress was made this year,” Ransdell said. 

Meredith said part-time enrollment is down, but transfer student numbers are up due to dual enrollment programs with seven KCTCS schools, a school in Evansville, Indiana and another in Gallatin, Tennessee.

“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.”

Meredith also said that there have been an increase of students enrolling in WKU from Florida and Brazil. Brazil is now ranked third for highest international enrollment rates, with China in second and Saudi Arabia in first.

“Raza Tiwana, our chief international officer…, has developed relationships with Brazil and that… is feeding us a very strong population of students and we’re hopeful that will continue,” Meredith said. 

A new doctoral program was also approved during the meeting. The department of psychology will now have a doctorate of psychology in applied psychology program.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Gordon Emslie said the program will have to go through the Council on Post Secondary Education, which will meet Nov. 21, and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, before it can be fully accredited and implemented.

Emslie said the program will 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.

The Board will not officially meet again until Jan. 23, 2015.