Regents learn of increased fall enrollment, buy $365,000 property

Tessa Duvall

It was a full agenda for WKU’s third quarterly Board of Regents meeting on Friday.

The board was given several presentations by administrators and other officials, approved the purchase of property to add to the University Farm and even looked to modify the way it operates.

Enrollment at WKU up by 200 students for fall 2011

The new associate vice president for Enrollment Management, Brian Meredith, was on hand to issue the annual enrollment report.

For the upcoming fall semester, enrollment at WKU is up about 200 students total, Meredith said, which he considers to be “pretty solid.”

There are about 3,039 freshmen enrolled at WKU for the fall, he said. Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, added that sophomore numbers are low, which is a concern, but there is an increase in junior and senior retention.

“This is very encouraging,” Emslie said.

Meredith also said he plans to work with the Navitas program to “get those numbers up quickly.”

Faculty Regent Patricia Minter asked for an update regarding low Navitas enrollment.

Navitas, a company that places foreign students into universities abroad, and WKU signed a 10-year contract in January 2010 that aims to expand the university’s international community.

Meredith said some Navitas students aren’t yet reenrolled for the fall, so they are yet to be counted in final numbers.

President Gary Ransdell added that first-year Navitas students are a part of the Pathways program, and during this year, the company and WKU split tuition revenue. During the second year, the university gets all of the revenue from the students and counts the student as enrolled at WKU.

Ransdell added that he is anxious to see the number of Navitas students at WKU increase.

Minter was also provided an update about on-campus housing by Howard Bailey, vice president for student affairs.

“If we open today, we would house all of our students we have applications for,” he said.

Some students would share rooms with their resident assistants until after the first week, at which point they would then be moved into rooms of students that don’t show up on campus. Bailey said this is referred to as 105 percent occupancy because the additional bed in the RA room is not typically occupied.

“We’re on track,” Bailey said. “It’s an interesting process each fall, juggling and knowing.”

Purchase of $365,000 property

The WKU Board of Regents on Friday also approved the purchase 1210 Bennett Lane for $365,000.

The 24.15 acre property is adjacent to the University Farm, and has a home, attached garage, cottage, log house and a wood and metal panel storage barn located on the lot, according to agenda materials.

The property is surrounded on three sides by the farm, and the Agriculture Department has wanted the property for future plans, President Gary Ransdell said at the meeting.

“This is property we’ve coveted for some time,” he said.

Blaine Ferrell, dean of the Ogden College of Science and Engineering, said the buildings on the property are in good shape and will remain in place.

Possibilities for the property include tourism to the log cabin, a restaurant featuring foods grown at the farm, musket-building workshops and a kiln for the art department in the Potter College of Arts and Letters.

Minter questioned the university’s confidence to go through with the purchase given there could be potentially challenging financial times ahead.

Ransdell said the funds for the purchase will come from the university reserve. He added that it would be a mistake to let the property fall into someone else’s hands.

After the meeting, Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said WKU keeps about $3 million in a reserve to be used in the event of an unanticipated emergency or opportunity.

When more funds become available, it will replenish the balance in the reserve, Mead said, although she doesn’t know for sure when this will occur.

Meyers proposes term limits for faculty, staff Regents

The first reading of proposed revisions to the bylaws of the Board of Regents was approved at the meeting on Friday. The possible revisions make no major changes to the way the board currently operates.

If the changes pass a second reading, the bylaws must be reviewed no less than every five years, which Minter said was especially important.

Regents Jim Meyer, former chair of the board, suggested that there also be term limits for the faculty and staff Regents to align with the six-year limit other Regents serve.

The faculty Regent and staff Regent are each elected by their peers. With the exception of the student Regent, who is the acting Student Government Association president, the rest of the Regents are appointed by the governor. Faculty and staff Regents can currently serve for as long as they are reelected, Meyer said.

Meyer did not make a motion to change the bylaws to impose term limits.

Friday’s meeting was the last for Regent Yevette Haskins, who served six years on the board. She will be replaced by Cynthia Harris of Louisville who will serve for a term expiring June 30, 2017.