Regents Notes: Board approves new programs; Ransdell building ready

Regents Notes: Board approves new programs; Ransdell building ready

Caitlin Carter

Despite a snowstorm that blanketed the region on Thursday, many members of the WKU community attended Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, and nine of the 11 board members were present.

All action items on Friday’s agenda were approved unanimously.

The regents next meet on April 22.

WKU gets doctorate for nursing school

Three new academic programs were unanimously approved at Friday’s meeting.

The programs include a new Master of Accountancy, Doctorate in Nursing Practice and undergraduate minor in child life programs. All three had been previously approved by other committees, most recently WKU’s University Senate last fall.

The timing of the nursing degree was especially important, as approval was necessary to forward to the Kentucky Board of Nursing by Monday. The Kentucky General Assembly passed legislation in 2010 to allow comprehensive universities to offer the DNP.

Proposed dates to begin the accounting and nursing degrees are fall 2011, while the child life minor has been proposed for spring 2011. The minor involves 21 semester hours in classes already offered by WKU in the College of Health and Human Services.

WKU faculty keeping up with growth

Last year, WKU saw an enrollment increase, Provost Gordon Emslie said.

Emslie said this increase has lowered the faculty-to-staff ratio from 19.3-to-one to 19.1-to-one — not a big swing by any means, but something Emslie said shows that WKU is keeping pace with increased enrollment.

Emslie said WKU is in the midst of several searches to increase the faculty number to prepare for future increases.

President Gary Ransdell said that internationally, this is a big point of attraction for WKU because you don’t see that low of a ratio in other countries.

“That’s a particularly important factor when we’re competing with larger universities,” Ransdell said.

SKyTeach proving successful

Based on a program at the University of Texas at Austin called UTeach, SKyTeach’s goal is to recruit and retain better science and math teachers for the state of Kentucky, Master Teacher Melissa Rudloff said.

Kentucky ranks very poorly in high-tech jobs, according to a presentation Rudloff and fellow Master Teacher Rico Tyler gave,

WKU received a $2.4 million grant in 2007 to create SKyTeach, Rudloff said. And since then, SKyTeach students have achieved higher ACT scores and GPAs than the average WKU student.

Currently, 249 students are actively enrolled in SKyTeach courses.

Ransdell building ready to go; other construction notes

John Osborne, vice president for Facilities, said the new College of Education Building was completed on time and will be open for classes beginning Monday.

Known as Gary A. Ransdell Hall, the building will be dedicated in April, Osborne said.

The new music hall, currently under construction, is on schedule and is targeted to be complete by December 2011, said Bryan Russell, director of Planning, Design and Construction.

After three weeks of blasts two to three times per day, the base for the building was created, Osborne said.

“No good building starts without a solid foundation,” he said.

After many weeks of pedestrian and vehicular traffic obstruction, the north loop of the High Voltage Infrastructure Project was completed recently, Russell said.

This area, affecting Normal Drive, State Street and Mimosa Alley, was also fitted with more “appropriate” sidewalks, Russell said. The sidewalks are larger and now are on both sides of the hill.

Osborne said many parts of South Campus have seen renovations lately.

The study area and lobby of South Campus were recently transformed, as was a biology lab, which is now a computer lab, he said.