Faculty, administration disappointed over tuition decision

Cameron Koch

While some students may be rejoicing at the news of having to only pay for a 3 percent tuition increase, both the administration and faculty are concerned.

President Gary Ransdell and WKU urged the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to approve a maximum tuition increase of 5 percent for all public Kentucky universities.

Despite those efforts, the CPE approved a maximum 3 percent tuition increase for face-to-face, Kentucky resident and undergraduate students, resulting in what will be a budget reduction for WKU.

Discussions began Monday among the vice presidents as Ransdell called upon them to begin thinking about and making their recommendations for the budget reduction. He emphasized that every effort would be taken to protect employees and jobs.

Before the CPE decision was made, Faculty Regent Patti Minter composed a statement to the CPE on behalf of the university with the support of Ransdell, SGA President Cory Dodds, and Board of Regents Chairman Freddie Higdon, stressing the need for the income a 5 percent tuition increase would bring.

“WKU faculty and staff have made great progress towards improving academic quality, retaining students and graduating students within six years, and all three of these missions would suffer greatly without the five percent increase to fund fixed costs and nothing more,” Minter wrote in the statement. “To use a medical analogy, we are not cutting any fat or even soft tissue — we are now down to bone.”

Minter said as a collaborative effort between herself as a faculty leader, the Board of Regents and SGA, that the statement accurately represents the opinion of the university as a whole.

“Of course, I’m very disappointed that the CPE chose not to listen because this is obviously going to be very damaging to the university that we have to deal with 3 percent instead of 5 percent,” Minter said.

CPE member and Eastern Kentucky University faculty member Nancy McKenney was the only vote against a 3 percent tuition increase.

McKenney said remarks from Ransdell and Morehead University president Wayne Andrews convinced her that a 3 percent increase would not be meeting the needs of the universities.

“It was pretty evident they were extremely distressed that they couldn’t have more than that,” McKenney said.

She said the University of Kentucky’s decision to only raise tuition by 3 percent regardless of the CPE decision heavily influenced the council’s vote.

“We had some idea that maybe 4 percent would be fair, and then University of Kentucky came out and said they were only raising 3 percent; that kind of threw a monkey wrench into things,” McKenney said.

“It bothered me, and bothered other people on the council that the University of Kentucky didn’t wait for our decision,” McKenney said. “They already have the highest tuition, so a 3 percent raise for them is a greater dollar amount than anyone else will get.”

Ann Mead, WKU’s vice president for Finance and Administration, said in an email no decisions have been made regarding the budget reduction and won’t likely be formalized for a few more weeks.