Administration reacts to proposed $1.8 million loss

Gary Ransdell mug


Coping with a potential $1.8 million loss to the WKU budget weighed on the minds of university officials at Wednesday morning’s Administrative Council meeting. 

President Gary Ransdell said the cuts would be “significantly more than we were expecting.” 

The nearly $2 million loss would come from Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed 2.5 percent decrease to the operating budgets of Kentucky universities and technical colleges. 

“Frankly, up until a few weeks ago, I wasn’t expecting to be dealing with cuts at all,” Ransdell said. “But we are dealing with that now and we’ll continue to work through the process and identify some relief for yet another budget cut.”

If the General Assembly passes the proposed budget, WKU students could see another rise in their tuition. 

Ann Mead, Vice President for Finance and Administration, said WKU would be able to further prepare their budget once the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education sets the standard for tuition increases for public universities. 

“There likely will be a ‘modest’ rate increase,” Mead said, referencing Beshear’s promise to university officials of only a “modest” drop in funds. 

Addressing compensation relief, pension funds, retirement system, and mandated cost increases are also major concerns for the university budget, Ransdell said. 

A potential budget cut compounds financial concerns from last year’s enrollment drop, which lost the university $1.2 million. The budget gap was made up with one-time funds to the university. 

Provost Gordon Emslie said a growing international student population could also help cushion the blow. 

Emslie and Gordon Baylis, vice president in the Office of Research, said though money was cut at the state level, national funding for collegiate research and grants improved over recent years. 

“Last year and the year before were absolutely brutal in terms of research funding,” Baylis said. “We dug deep, both faculty and students, at working hard to advantage of opportunities once it got better… We got everyone up to speed on how you’re going to apply for the money when the money is there.”

According to the proposed budget, The Carol Martin Gatton Academy would receive funding for 80 more students, which would lead to an expansion of the current building to accommodate those students. 

Prior to the governor’s speech, Ransdell prepared for a 1 percent budget cut, roughly $800,000 lost to the university. 

Despite the surprise, Ransdell expressed some hope of the General Assembly reconsidering the proposed decrease. 

“To use a baseball analogy, it’s a nine-inning game and this is only the first inning,” he said.