Ransdell announces administrative reorganization

Joanna Williams

WKU has begun work on several new initiatives in order to save money for a budget shortfall that totals $3.1 million.  

Last week it was announced that WKU will privatize Health Services, an effort that will save $1 million, President Gary Ransdell said. 

The latest move is a change on top of the Hill where Ransdell announced Tuesday in an email that he is restructuring his administration. The news of the restructuring coincides with John Osborne’s, current vice-president for Campus Services and Facilities, announcement that he will retire in May. 

His $130,536 salary will be disbursed among various departments in order to offset the cost of the impending budget cuts, Ransdell said in the email.

“We’re taking that position and using most of that salary to reduce everyone’s budget cut,” he said. “By reducing our executive level overhead, we’re reducing the overall budget cut.”

Osborne’s role will not be refilled at the end his tenure. Instead, Ransdell has decided to reduce the number of vice-presidents, but give several new duties to others in administration. 

Ann Mead, vice-president for Finance and Administration, will now assume leadership of all of auxiliary services including Health Services, Restaurants and Dining, the WKU Store and Parking and Transportation. 

Though she has a number of new responsibilities, Mead said she doesn’t foresee any transitional problems. 

“These areas are being led by competent managers,” Mead said in an email. “My role is to provide overall leadership, direction and support, not to tell them how to operate on a day-to-day basis. I will work with John and these units heads to ensure a smooth transition.”

Mead won’t have all the added responsibility of auxiliaries as Bryan Russell, current director of Planning, Design and Construction will be promoted to Chief Facilities Officer where he will be responsible for facilities management, campus planning and campus sustainability.

Russell said in his current position he already works with auxiliaries closely as his department is responsible for the maintenance for the buildings on campus. 

“…we work hand in hand in hand with buildings,” he said. “We work very closely with facilities management because what we build they have to maintain for the next, you know, 50, 75 years.” 

Russell said his close working relationship with Osborne will make for a smooth transition.  

“We’ve worked very closely together, we’ve had weekly meetings for the last six years, these are groups that I work with daily anyways,” Russell said.

Brian Merideth, current associate vice-president for Enrollment Management will take on the title of Chief Enrollment and Graduation officer. His responsibilities will include academic advising, college reediness, TRIO programs, Navitas and student retention. 

Despite the promotion of his administrators, Ransdell think that cutting down on the number of vice-presidents will ultimately be best for reducing the budget cut.

“By promoting Brian and adding to Ann’s list of responsibilities, we’re able to take John’s salary and do what’s necessary with John and Ann, but most of that salary will go to reducing the budget cut. It hasn’t been determined yet,” Ransdell said. 

Ransdell said the Board of Regents are happy with the proactive moves WKU has made so far.

“The Board is pleased we’re doing some things to alleviate the budget cut, between the move we made last week with Health Services and this decision, and there will be more that are forthcoming,” said. “I think the board is please we’re acting in responsible ways to minimize everybody’s budget cut.”