Summer construction, the general assembly, the university budget and tuition talks all made up President Gary Ransdell’s report at the second quarterly Board of Regents meeting on Friday.
Bryan Russell, director of planning design and construction, and John Osborne, vice president for Campus Services and Facilities, both helped inform the board of the various construction projects that will begin over the summer while the majority of students are away.
A renovation of the Colonnade, repaving of parking lots, maintenance on various stairs and walls on campus, replacing part of the electrical infrastructure on campus, and the demolition of the Rock House will all take place over the summer.
Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, offered the board a report on the 2012 General Assembly, one that paid little attention to postsecondary education.
The assembly came to a close on April 12 with little change to the proposed 6.4 percent cut to postsecondary education and no funding for capital projects, Taylor said.
However, the assembly did grant WKU the authority to sell an additional $16 million worth of bonds for the Downing University Center renovation.
One bill the university was paying close attention to in the assembly was House Bill 260, designed to make the University of Pikeville a public institution. The bill went under a drastic change and shifted to instead provide scholarships to students in coal counties who attended schools in those counties.
Taylor said WKU was in support of the bill in its new form, as the scholarships could have aided students who wished to attend WKU’s regional Owensboro campus.
Though the bill ultimately didn’t pass, Taylor and Ransdell said they expect it to reappear in the future.
Ransdell reminded the board of the tough state budget and how even though with a likely 4.8 percent increase in tuition for in state undergraduate students, the university will barely be covering its rising costs.
The university is dealing with three variables, each of which are $5 million — a tuition increase that will raise around $5 million and both a budget cut and a fixed cost increase of $5 million.
“Our challenge as we speak is how we deal with that $5 million budget reduction in light of really, tuition increase that falls a little bit shy of covering our fixed cost increases,” Ransdell said.
That being said, Ransdell said the university was sticking to its plan of not doing a hiring freeze or cutting faculty.
“We are not laying anyone off for financial reasons,” Ransdell said. “That’s our resolve, and we’re sticking to it.”