The next six years at WKU have been outlined in a new action plan, a plan that includes raising tuition each year.
The plan, “Challenging the Spirit,” focuses on four goals: enhancing academics, contributing to a diverse community, enhancing the quality of life in the region and continuing to preserve the institution. It was publicly released at the Aug. 24 faculty and staff convocation and can be accessed on the university website.
President Gary Ransdell said this action plan was a return to structure from the financial instability that shaped the university’s strategic planning for the past four years.
“I believe strongly in a strategic planning process that is simple, measurable and structured in such a way that you can clearly identify and report progress… instead of a list of ‘want to be’ or ‘want to do’ things,” Ransdell said.
Students can look forward to “improved academic quality, improved campus infrastructure and a greater campus diversity,” over the next six years, Ransdell said.
The plan also reveals that each objective will be funded by a steady five percent tuition increase each year over the six-year period.
Ransdell said this tuition raise is in response to consistent budget cuts by the state government over the last four years.
Ransdell said he hoped the state would resume funding public universities, instead of cutting more money from their budgets.
“There’s some degree of optimism, if not hope, in these revenue assumptions,” he said. “If these assumptions are not realized, then it will be harder to achieve the measures we’ve outlined in this plan.”
One action plan objective for improving WKU academics is increasing the number of Honors College graduates by 50 percent. Craig Cobane, executive director of the Honors College, said he looks forward to meeting that objective.
“Building a stronger honors program not only helps honors students but the overall student population as well,” he said. “It keeps talented students and faculty in Kentucky who would otherwise leave the state.”
Ransdell also hopes WKU’s academics improve by having more students become national and international scholarship recipients to bring more attention to the university.
Director of the Office of Scholar Development Audra Jennings said the goal mentioned in the action plan is ambitious.
“By setting an ambitious goal of increasing national and international scholarship recipients four-fold, the university is encouraging WKU students to dream big,” Jennings said.
In terms of infrastructure, the plan includes WKU’s campus construction priorities, focusing on the $50 million completion of Downing University Center and an estimated $22 million construction of an Honors College facility, which would also house the International Center, according to the report.
Full-time faculty can hope for a 15 percent pay increase over the next six years, according to the action plan.
“A university is a complex structure,” Ransdell said. “You’ve got faculty, you’ve got students, you’ve got alumni, parents, elected officials, and the public, and they all need something different from the university in their minds.
“But you’ve got to start with the faculty and meeting their needs.”