Regents Notes: Tuition hike, $70 student fee approved at meeting

Regents Notes: Tuition hike, $70 student fee approved at meeting

Katherine Wade

WKU’s 2011-2012 operating budget is officially $385,047,000, a 1 percent increase from the previous year’s budget, after a motion was passed to approve it at Friday’s Board of Regents special budget meeting.

Ann Mead, vice president for Finance and Administration, said this increase is modest compared to what is happening at universities in other states.

Under the new budget, undergraduate tuition and fees will increase from $3,780 to $4,042 for a Kentucky resident beginning this fall. Additionally, the board approved a $70-per-semester student fee for renovations to Downing University Center.

Mead said WKU plans to get word out about the increase to students by putting it on the university’s website. Students should also receive the first round of bills in about a month, she said.

All board members voted in favor of the increase except for SGA President Billy Stephens.

Stephens said he understands the university didn’t want to cut jobs, but he wishes that students didn’t have to take the entire burden.

“The students are the people who voted for me, so they’re my constituency,” he said. “And I’m a student too. I’m glad I said no. It was the principle of it.”

President Gary Ransdell said it is always uncomfortable when the university has to increase tuition, but it is also a reality.

“We fully recognize the frustration for students, but it is still a bargain for students to come here and get a degree,” he said.

Stephens sworn in as student regent

Recently elected president of the Student Government Association, Stephens, a Hawesville senior, was sworn in by Chairman Jim Meyer as the new student regent at Friday’s meeting.

Stephens said it was an honor to become part of the board.

“This is a great experience,” he said. “I’m really glad to be part of the board, and I’m excited to get started.”

Each year, the SGA president serves a one-year term as the student regent.

Committees pass motions

All motions passed during the executive, student affairs and academic affairs committee meetings that followed the board meeting and a lunch break. Items approved at committees meetings will go up for a vote at the regents’ third quarterly meeting on July 29.

The executive committee approved a one-year contract extension with Mary Taylor Cowles, head coach of the women’s basketball team. Athletics Director Ross Bjork said giving Cowles a four-year window to operate is best for the program.

The committee also approved amendments to the contract with Ken McDonald, head coach of the men’s basketball team. Bjork said the program was evaluated very strongly before the decision was made to retain McDonald.

“We want to give Ken another chance to correct the things that were plaguing our program,” he said.

McDonald’s base salary was reduced by $100,000 down to $250,000 annually. His incentives were also reduced, and his $300,000 buyout plan was reformulated to allow for monthly payments over a four-year time span, should his contract be terminated.

During the academic affairs committee meeting, the Board approved the following:

    •    Master of Music degree

    •    Program name change from Women’s Studies to Gender and Women’s Studies

    •    Undergraduate minor in Nutritional and Food Chemistry

    •    Undergraduate minor in Teaching English as a Second Language

    •    Undergraduate certificate in Drinking Water Operations

    •    Undergraduate certificate in Data Analysis using SAS

    •    Undergraduate certificate in Long-term Care Administration

The Board also approved the appointment of J. Farley Norman, a psychology professor, and Robyn K. Swanson, a music professor, as University Distinguished Professors.

Linda Pulsinelli, assistant professor of mathematics, and James Barksdale, Jr., professor of mathematics, were awarded Faculty Emeritus.