Faculty Senate Reconvenes for Spring Semester with Budget Struggles


WKU’s first Faculty Senate meeting of the spring semester began by addressing the elephant in the room: a state-proposed $1.8 million budget cut to university funding.

President Gary Ransdell opened the meeting, voicing his frustration with an unexpected proposed loss of 2.5 percent to the WKU budget.

“You’ve got the higher education partner, and the public education partner,” Ransdell said. “I’m pretty uncomfortable with cutting one partner so you can give the other partner more money… We don’t need to be taking money away from them, but university presidents are all having to deal with this the best we can for the remainder of the legislative session.”

Since 2006, the university has experienced over $14 million in state budget cuts, and per student spending has decreased by nearly $1,500 despite a growing student population, Ransdell said.

A 3 to 4 percent tuition increase is anticipated if Governor Steve Beshear’s proposed budget passes pending the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education’s maximum tuition increase, the president said.

Patricia Minter, faculty regent, predicted that one organization would not suffer budget cuts: the athletic department.

“We still find ourselves in this race to the top,” she said. “We have to pay [the athletic staff] what they demand on the open market so that our athletic program can be competitive, and I just want to apply this standard to us. It’s just that simple.”

Minter, quoting a report run in the Lexington Herald-Leader, said the average WKU athlete received over $36,000 in 2011. Regularly enrolled university students received roughly $11,600 that same year.

Athletic spending at WKU has increased 38 percent since 2008, Minter said.

“Funding entertainment over education is the wrong thing to do,” she said.  “It was wrong last year, it was wrong the year before, and it is obviously the wrong thing to do with the present budget.”

Minter said she would not be approving new football head coach Jeff Brohm’s contract at tomorrow morning’s Board of Regent’s meeting.  Currently, the contract offers $600,000 with up to an extra $400,000 in salary incentives.

Echoing Minter, senate chairwoman Margaret Crowder said she asked Ransdell for a “plain English” ranking of budgeting priorities for the university.

“I don’t think our budgeting is aligning with our mission,” she said.

Provost Gordon Emslie proposed forming a faculty advisory task force to deal with budget concerns and other issues as they arise.

Approximately $1.3 million in faculty funds was reserved this year in order to save money to address compensation issues if necessary, Emslie reported.

Emslie said Spring 2014 retention is up to 83.4 percent, slightly more than Spring 2013’s 83 percent.

“Admissions is energized and ready to put this ship upright,” Emslie said.

Discussions outside of Beshear’s proposed budget cuts ran smoothly.

Keyana Boka, SGA president and student regent, said SGA will have their first meeting on February 4.

The policy for full-time staff teaching assignments passed unanimously with no discussion.

All graduate council, policy items, and University Curriculum Committee reports also passed unanimously with no discussion. 

Crowder announced Minter as the new Legislative Advisory Committee president.