WKU could lose earmarks requested by McConnell

Caitlin Carter

According to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, WKU could lose millions of dollars in potential funding.

WKU is seeking money by way of earmarks requested by Sen. Mitch McConnell. But during the State of the Union address, Obama said he would veto any bill containing earmarks, which is funding attached to a bill that typically affects a Congress member’s home state.

One of the earmarks McConnell has requested is $2.5 million to expand WKU’s School of Nursing, according to washingtonwatch.com.


If the earmark is received, WKU will expand the school’s classroom space and purchase equipment with the money.

This equipment will give nursing students at WKU the tools necessary to meet the growing demand for nurses in Kentucky, according to the request.

At last Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, three new academic programs were approved, including a Doctorate in Nursing Practice.

Eve Main, assistant professor and lead nurse practitioner in the Masters of Science in Nursing program, said previously that WKU students can already get bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, but the American Association of Colleges of Nursing recommended in 2004 that any advanced practice nurses have a DNP by 2015.

Main said that after the recommendation by the AACN was made, officials decided to pursue getting a DNP program approved because they believe enrollment in the nursing program may slow if they don’t offer a doctorate degree.

The earmark, if not received, will not affect the advancement of this program, said Robbin Taylor, vice president for Public Affairs, in an e-mail.

“Plans for the new program will proceed as planned,” Taylor said. “Federal appropriations are used to enhance programs and services — not for general day-to-day operating.”

Taylor said that this will not be the first time WKU hasn’t received expected earmarks.

In 2007, when leadership changed in the House of Representatives and Senate, she said there were around $15 million in pending projects that weren’t funded.

“Federal earmarks are never a sure thing and not something we build into operating budgets,” Taylor said.

In total, McConnell has requested $276 million in earmarks for 2011. About $16 million of this sum is planned for projects at WKU, according to washingtonwatch.com.

In addition to the School of Nursing expansion, projects include the construction of an Agricultural Research Service laboratory and research unit.

Though McConnell has previously requested these earmarks, he now said he backs Obama in the fight against earmarks, according to multiple reports.