Regents committees discuss potential $5 million budget cut, Harper contract approved

Cameron Koch

The university budget took center stage at the Board of Regents Committee meetings on Friday, sharing the floor with the approval of men’s basketball head coach Ray Harper’s contract and approval of a new graduate certificate.

Budget Director Kim Reed took the floor to show a presentation that went in depth with how WKU’s budget is put together and where exactly all the money comes from.

Academic Affairs requires the highest amount of resources, equaling almost $174 million, according to Reed.

State appropriated funding has continued to drop. From 2009 until now, WKU has lost around $9 million in state funding. WKU will lose another $5 million between 2012 and 2014 alone due to state cuts to all of postsecondary education. Of all of the universities expenses, paying personnel is by far the largest, equaling 45 percent of all expenditures.

President Gary Ransdell during the meeting talked about how hard it is to make cuts while at the same time avoiding layoffs and furloughs.

“You begin to see how much you are limited in implementing that cut,” Ransdell said. “It makes it really difficult when you are trying to protect your employees.”

According to Reed’s presentation, almost 43 percent of WKU’s revenue comes from student tuition and fees, equaling $165 million in fiscal year 2012. The budget is being put together expecting a 5 percent tuition hike to offset the state cuts.

Harper’s final contract went through without a hitch granting Harper a salary of $375,000. Other incentives, such as receiving percentages of his base pay for 3,700 or more basketball season tickets sold and NCAA tournament appearances, are also included in the contract.

“Coach Harper performed admirably as interim coach,” Ransdell said. “We feel good about the appointment and he will lead this program, I’m confident, for a long time.”

The board also approved a new track for WKU faculty members, one which allows professors to focus more on instruction and teaching than scholarly research. Those hired under the new Pedagogical track will be expected to have a higher teaching load than those faculty members who do research.

The Pedagogical faculty track must be decided upon when a WKU faculty member is hired and professors cannot jump to tracks. Promotion and tenure procedures remain the same, minus the expectation of research and scholarly productivity.

Creation of a pedagogical position will be voted on by individual departments looking to hire new faculty. Current faculty members cannot switch to this new track.

Ransdell said this new option will continue to set WKU apart from other universities.

“Not every member of the faculty is focused on research,” Ransdell said. “It sets us apart — it’s rather innovative.”

Academic Affair related items approved at the meeting included a Baccalaureate of Science in Health Information Management, a graduate certificate in in Facility and Event Management, and a minor in Leadership Studies.