Regents approve land transfer to Hardin County Schools

Tessa Duvall

While the approval of coach Bobby Petrino’s contract garnered the most attention out of Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, WKU also took action that will help students in Hardin County.

Regents unanimously approved the transfer of 20 WKU-owned acres in Hardin County to Hardin County Schools for the creation of an early college and career center.

President Gary Ransdell said the deal was at no cost to WKU, as the university did not pay for the land, and HCS will pay to build the center.

“We’re not in the habit of giving stuff away,” Ransdell said with a laugh.

The land was originally given to WKU in 2007 from the North Central Education Foundation and is adjacent to the Elizabethtown Community and Technical College campus, according to agenda materials. The donation was made knowing that the land would be used for a higher education or similar facility.

According to a WKU press release, the center “will fulfill several roles.” 

HCS students will use the center to take courses in several career-oriented pathways, including health science, engineering and culinary arts and hospitality services, according to the release.

WKU and ECTC will partner with HCS to provide instruction and dual credit courses, and WKU will also offer collegiate classes in the building on evenings and weekends, according to the release.

Ransdell said he hopes the center will “strengthen the pipeline of students” who choose to attend WKU after high school.

A preliminary draft of the partnership between WKU and HCS provided by Deborah Wilkins, chief of staff and general counsel for WKU, outlines the ways WKU and HCS will handle the arrangement.

As the draft is written now, the partners will work together to “maximize program partnership opportunities,” and costs for utilities, custodial services and insurance will be split accordingly.

Other notable items from the Board of Regents meeting:

• Brian Meredith, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, told Regents that winter term enrollment increased by a total of 15 students since the 2012 winter term. However, spring numbers will not be finalized until later in the semester, although enrollment currently stands at about 18,700.

• John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, said WKU will take over maintenance of a stretch of road near campus, if the Bowling Green City Commission grants the university permission. The roadway runs from the intersection of Normal Drive and Regents Avenue, up to the intersection of State Street and College Heights Boulevard. WKU would widen sidewalks, change light fixtures and reduce speed limits to 15 miles per hour to improve pedestrian safety in this area.

• A bill that would allow Kentucky universities to issue agency bonds to fund campus improvement projects with university money could go before the Kentucky legislature as soon as Feb. 5, Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, said. A combined 11 projects at six Kentucky public universities — including the Honors College and International Center at WKU — would get the go-ahead if this plan is approved.