Ransdell pushes “inequality” at opening address


WKU President Gary Ransdell challenged university faculty and staff to provide students with the opportunity to become “unequal” this school year. 

“I want us to think about the core value of our national identity, that in this nation, everyone has an equal opportunity to become unequal,” Ransdell said to the several hundred faculty and staff present for the opening convocation in Van Meter Hall.

Ransdell said that while all people are created equal, WKU provides students an opportunity to excel and become unequal among their peers. 

“I challenge you, all of you, faculty and staff alike, to help our students become unequal,” he said. “Some of our students might be able to do this by themselves, but most need our help. It is our job as faculty, administrators, and staff to help them achieve their full potential.”

One way Ransdell wants to help facilitate student excellence is with the Challenging the Spirit Action Plan, the completion of which was publicly announced today at the convocation. 

The plan prioritizes the goals of WKU for the next six years into four categories: academic excellence, dynamic and diverse university community, “a higher quality of life for us and those we serve,” and support for campus infrastructure. 

The plan is largely based on assumptions of revenue funded by an anticipated five percent tuition increase each year, modest growth in enrollment due to better retention, and better international recruitment. 

Ransdell said 70 percent of the money brought in from enrollment would go to the Academic Affairs part of the budget. The remaining 30 would go “centrally to meet needs across the remainder of the campus.”

In addition to revenue, capital projects are also listed in the action plan, such as new construction projects. 

Along with the Action Plan, the president talked about increasing the number of bi-term course opportunities for students. According to Ransdell, bi-term calendar learning would shift traditional tuition fees to a per-credit hour pricing schedule, a possibility currently being “explored” by the president and Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president. Ransdell also mentioned the emphasis on bi-term courses would reduce the number of dropped courses for students, reduce student’s “course shopping” ability, and cut costs to Academic Affairs.

While policies and plans were brought up during convocation, the president also took the time to reflect on various accomplishments from the 2011-2012 school year. These included the Gatton Academy’s number one ranking in Newsweek magazine, the Office of Scholar Development for helping 27 students receive national scholarships, and former WKU swimmer Claire Donahue, who won a gold medal in women’s relay for this summer’s Olympic Games in London. 

Patricia Minter, faculty advisor for the WKU Board of Regents, said she appreciated the emphasis on faculty and staff. 

“I certainly think focusing on the faculty is one of the highlights of this for me,” Minter said. “Nothing that was talked about today could really have happened without them.”

Student Government Association president Cory Dodds said “very ambitious goals for this year” were shared at the convocation.

“President Ransdell’s remarks give us reasons to look forward to seeing what we’re able to accomplish as a university this academic year,” Dodds said.