Ransdell announces administration reorganization

Gary Ransdell mug

Kae Holloway

In an email sent out to faculty and staff on March 25, President Gary Ransdell announced that there will be a reorganization of administrators for the coming school year.

This decision was made after John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, announced he will retire at the end of the spring semester. Ransdell said Osborne’s vacancy will not be filled. Money that would have previously gone toward his salary, roughly $130,000, will instead be allocated toward the impending budget cut.

“Effective upon John’s retirement in May, we will move all of our Auxiliary services under Ann Mead, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration,” Ransdell said in the email.

Other administrative positions will be shifted around as well.

Ransdell also announced in the email that the state Senate approved a different budget than the state House of Representatives.

“We were pleased that the Senate version eliminated the 2.5 percent cut to Higher Education ($1.8 million from WKU),” Ransdell said in the email.

The Senate’s version of the budget, however, eliminates spending for capital projects, which would have gone to renovating the rest of the science campus at WKU. Funds for the renovation of the Thompson Complex Center Wing would be cut entirely.

Read the full email below:

“Fellow Faculty and Staff:
John Osborne
John Osborne announced yesterday to his colleagues on the Administrative Council that he intends to retire following Commencement later this spring. This will complete a 41-year WKU career for John—a career which has taken him from a residence hall director to Vice President.  There will be other opportunities to salute and thank John for his long and dedicated service to WKU, but suffice to say that his impact on WKU has been immense. He has led our numerous auxiliary enterprises with sound business acumen and a passion for improving the quality of life for our students. He has also supervised all of our facilities programs, including the rebuilding of our campus over the last 16 years. Few people on our campus have brought as much passion and seasoned experience to their duties as John has delivered throughout his career. Congratulations, John, on a well-earned retirement, and best wishes for many years of healthy, happy days in the Florida sunshine!
Reorganization and Savings
Given John’s retirement, I have made the decision to reduce the number of Vice Presidents and, therefore, I will not refill John’s title of Vice President for Campus Services and Facilities. Rather, I will devote most of John’s salary to reducing our campus-wide budget reduction for next year, thus, reducing the budget cut for all divisions of the University. Effective upon John’s retirement in May, we will move all of our Auxiliary services under Ann Mead, the Senior Vice President for Finance and Administration. Auxiliary services reporting to Ann will include 1) Health Services, 2) Printing/Postal/Student Copy Center, 4) Restaurants/Campus Dining/Vending, 5) The WKU Store, 6) ID Services, and 7) Parking and Transportation. Vice President Mead will also assume responsibility for our property and real estate portfolio. Bryan Russell, the current Director of Planning, Design, and Construction, will be promoted to Chief Facilities Officer, reporting directly to me. Bryan’s duties will include: 1) Facilities Management, 2) Campus Master Planning, 3) Planning, Design, and Construction, 4) Environmental Health and Safety, and 5) Campus Sustainability (although I want to make sure that Sustainability is a campus-wide priority, cutting across all divisions of the University).
In addition to the above changes, I have also asked Dr. Brian Meredith, currently our Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management, to assume the title of Chief Enrollment and Graduation Officer, and begin reporting directly to me.  Dr. Meredith will continue to have a dotted line to Academic Affairs, given the close working relationship with the Provost and others in academic leadership positions. The Chief Enrollment and Graduation Officer will continue to have responsibility for Admissions, Academic Advising, College Readiness, International Student Recruitment, the Registrar, Scholarships and Financial Aid, the Student Success Center, TRIO Programs, Navitas, ESLI, Graduate Admissions (working with Graduate Studies), and our broad range of Student Retention functions, including serving as an Admissions-related ombudsman.
Budget Update
By way of an update on the budget process in Frankfort, we learned yesterday that the Senate approved a budget which is different than the budget approved by the House of Representatives. We were pleased that the Senate version eliminated the 2.5 percent cut to Higher Education ($1.8 million from WKU).  If the Senate version prevails, we would be relieved of having to address a particularly painful part of our WKU budget challenge. On the other hand, the Senate eliminated the capital projects for higher education, which were funded in the House version of the budget. This action includes the elimination of funds for the Thompson Complex Center Wing renovation. The process now goes into Conference where leadership in both chambers negotiates a final budget, which is then sent to the Governor. Clearly, it would be our hope that the Senate version, with no cut, and the House version, which funds our capital project, both prevail in the final version. Both the House and the Senate versions include funding to expand the Gatton Academy, and partial support for our KERS increased cost mandate. I will keep you posted as this process runs its course in the next couple of weeks.
Thank You to Facilities Employees
With today’s cold temperatures, I am reminded of how important our campus Facilities employees have been to us this winter. I would be remise if I did not end this message with a compliment to our facilities crews, particularly our grounds crew, for their dedicated efforts during the recent winter storm which closed our campus for a couple of days. The amount of ice and snow which covered our streets, walks, and steps, made it particularly difficult to clear suitable walkways for pedestrians and vehicular traffic. Our employees worked exceedingly hard in very difficult conditions, and made it possible for us to re-open after two days of closure. I want to offer my personal appreciation for their dedicated efforts. I also want to express my appreciation for all of our faculty, staff, and students who managed to re-engage while the removal process continued for a few days after we re-opened.
Thanks again to all of our faculty and staff as we head into the last six weeks of our spring semester. I particularly appreciate everyone’s efforts to look for continuing efficiencies and cost reductions as we move closer to completing the budget process for next year. We have a great team of faculty, administration, and staff—all of whom serve our students exceedingly well.
Thank you.
Gary Ransdell”