President Gary Ransdell’s year-end letter to WKU faculty, staff

President Gary Ransdell's year-end letter to WKU faculty, staff

Herald Staff

President Gary Ransdell on Tuesday sent out his year-end letter to WKU’s faculty and staff. Below is the letter as it was sent out via email. Ransdell’s email attachments can be found to the left.

Fellow Faculty and Staff:

Commencement Weekend—It is Commencement Week at WKU!  As we wrap up another academic year, I want to thank, in advance, all of the faculty and staff who are working hard to plan this weekend’s ceremonies—and participate in them as well!  This will be the first time we will attempt three undergraduate ceremonies in one day.  Saturday will be a big day on the WKU campus.  Help us make all the parents and friends who visit us for the graduate and undergraduate ceremonies feel welcome.

Summer Initiatives—You received, last week, a communication from John Osborne and our Department of Facilities Management outlining all of the campus projects which we will attempt to complete by the time students return in August.  The list you received represents an ambitious agenda; but nevertheless, this important list of projects is necessary in order to ensure that our campus operates effectively and efficiently.  We want to continue to make our campus a place where our faculty and staff are inspired to perform at a high level and where students are encouraged to achieve their intellectual dreams.  Perhaps the most disruptive of the summer projects will be replacement of steam lines in five different locations.  These steam lines in most cases are more than 60 years old.  A couple actually failed over the course of the past year, but in order to provide heat we had to defer the replacement until this summer.  I have attached the list and the map where projects will occur for you in the event that you missed last week’s e-mail.

Two-Way Traffic—By now you all have received a couple of notices about the change in two way traffic on College Heights Boulevard beginning the first of June.  The Campus Master Plan Committee has spent several months—and actually have discussed for the last few years—this change in traffic flow.  Based on a recommendation from the Master Plan Committee, the Administrative Council recently made the decision to make this change this summer.  We believe it will facilitate better traffic flow on our campus and continue to achieve our objective to minimize vehicular traffic in the center core of the campus.  Please be careful when navigating College Heights Boulevard in the summer and when everyone returns to campus following your summer destinations.  Old habits sometimes die hard, so please be aware of the changes on College Heights Boulevard!

DUC Renovation—At the last Board of Regents meeting, the Board approved the Student Government Association’s recommendation to increase the Student Activities Fee in order to pay for a portion of the cost of the final phase in the renovation of the Downing University Center.  I commend Student Government for a very thorough analysis leading up to this decision and will enjoy watching Student Government continue to lead this effort.  The decisions to be made with regard to programming the interior renovation of the DUC will be lead by new SGA President, Billy Stephens, and a dedicated committee of students.  This is their project, and I am confident that the anticipated improvements to this 40-year-old building will serve future generations of students well.  The student committee will work closely with the architects in the months ahead to complete the design phase. There will be ample opportunities to brief the campus on how the renovation project will be staged in order to minimize the inevitable disruptions it will bring to our campus.

This project also represents the first request to the Council on Postsecondary Education to approve a student initiated fee outside of the tuition parameters.  At its recent meeting, the CPE approved the tuition exception policy which paves the way for a student-approved fee like this.  Colton Jessie, the current SGA President, Billy Stephens, the SGA President Elect, and I will submit our Regents’ approved proposal to CPE in June under this new exception.

Perhaps the important part for our campus to understand is that this action relates only to a student-approved fee for a facility like a student union or a student activities center.  Money generated through this tuition exception policy cannot be used for any other purpose and could not be approved without a 75 percent approval vote of Student Government.  The student activities fee will terminate when the agency bond debt service for the renovation has been fully paid.

Opening Convocation-Spirit of Western Award—Please reserve the date of August 22, 2011 for our annual Faculty/Staff Opening Convocation.  We will gather in Van Meter Hall at 8 a.m.  I look forward to being with you as we begin the 2011-2012 academic year.  In anticipation of that Convocation, we seek your nominations for our 10th Annual Spirit of Western Award.  A description of the award and a list of past recipients are attached.  Please submit your nominations by June 30—the end of the current fiscal year—to Dr. Walker Rutledge in the English Department who will chair this year’s selection committee.  This is an important opportunity to recognize special individuals whose WKU spirit is particularly deserving of recognition.  Thank you in advance for your nominations.  I look forward to sharing the 2011 recipient with you on August 22.

Thank You for a Great Year—Thank you to all of our faculty, staff, and administration for an outstanding academic year.  It was a significant year where our University made considerable progress in spite of difficult financial conditions.  Over the course of the year, we cut $3.1 million state appropriated dollars from our budget, yet we were able to achieve a combined 3.5 percent compensation increase for most faculty and staff.  We welcomed several new Vice Presidents, and we applauded the University Senate and our new Provost, Gordon Emslie, for significant progress in clarifying and improving a broad range of University policies.  We watched our students compete exceedingly well at the national level.  Many faculty earned prestigious national awards and several students participated in our expanding study abroad programs.  Congratulations to everyone on an outstanding year, and thank you for your service and loyalty to our campus and our learning process.

Best wishes to everyone for a safe and pleasant summer.  Travel safely; rest well.  I look forward to communicating with you prior to the called Board of Regents meeting on June 24, when the Board will be presented with our budget for the coming year.  Thank you.

Gary A. Ransdell