Regents approve degrees, discuss athletics in Friday meeting

Trey Crumbie

Information updates and summaries of the past 12 months consumed most of the Board of Regents’ time during their third quarterly meeting Friday.

The regent meeting was held in the Guillaume Executive Board Room in the Augenstein Alumni Center. All items conferred in the June 27 Board of Regents committee meetings were approved, including a Bachelor of Arts in Paralegal Studies and a Master of Science in Environmental and Occupational Health Science. 

When the meeting began, Crofton senior Nicki Seay was sworn in as Student Regent. Seay said she was a little overwhelmed with the responsibility of representing the students.

“I’m definitely excited, though, to bring that student voice to the table,” she said.

Seay will also serve as Student Government Association president in the fall.

Among the numerous reports, one from Athletic Director Todd Stewart stated that athletics made slightly more than $2.1 million in total ticket sales in the 2013-2014 fiscal year, up from $1.5 million in the previous fiscal year.

“We are providing our own revenue internally,” he said. “But we obviously have to keep continuing to do that.”

Although ticket sales were up, Stewart and other regents expressed ways to raise athletic attendance, especially for basketball games. One method Stewart suggested was to televise the games on a tape delay basis, incentivizing a person to drive to the arena if they want to see it live.

Stewart also reported that WKU’s athletic budget is slightly less than $23 million, which is less than the $25 million average for Conference USA schools.

Stewart’s briefing gave way to a thorough discussion about other affairs in the NCAA, especially pay. President Gary Ransdell said he was not entirely behind the idea of paying student athletes since students in other programs, such as forensics or orchestra, do not get paid.

“Those people work just as hard as a student athlete does at what they do,” he said.

Athletics was not the only topic discussed. A fall 2014 enrollment update was given by Brian Meredith, chief enrollment and graduation officer.

According to Meredith’s report, there has been a 5.6 percent increase in applications for admission, which translates to an anticipated 100 to 250 undergraduate, full-time Kentucky resident student increase. Meredith also noted transfer applications are up 14.6 percent.

“We are molding this class,” Meredith said.

Despite the projected increase of full-time students, Meredith’s report stated an anticipated decrease in part-time Kentucky students.

“We’ll be down hundreds of part-time students as we were last year and that’s just the market these days in higher education,” Ransdell said.

International students are also expected to increase. Ransdell said WKU will continue to pursue these students for the time being, but noted efforts could be diverted elsewhere.  

“There will be a time when the pipeline for international students will be less significant and we need to anticipate that in the next 20, 25 years,” Ransdell said.

Following the adjournment of the meeting, the regents took a tour of the new apartments on Kentucky Street, which are slated to open within the next couple of weeks. The apartment complex, completely full for the next year, contains 127 units and only juniors and seniors are eligible to live there.