Ransdell talks to students about tuition

Shawntaye Hopkins

President Gary Ransdell stood in front of about 30 students and talked about state funding, academic quality and enrollment growth.

It looked like a class.

The students who gathered in Grise Hall auditorium yesterday afternoon voiced their concerns and gained information about the proposed $200 tuition increase for next semester.

The Board of Regents will vote Friday on the tuition increase, which would fund a $5.8 million academic enhancement plan proposed this month.

The plan would produce more money to hire faculty, create scholarships and form a student success center in Downing University Center.

As part of Ransdell’s proposal, the regents would not be able to increase tuition for the 2004-2005 school year by more than 10 percent.

“I don’t think anyone was mad or greatly opposed,” Ransdell said. “They’re just concerned about finances, as we all are.”

Ransdell said he would have like to have seen more students attend the forum, but didn’t expect 100 percent attendance.

State funding is not supporting Western’s enrollment growth, he said.

“We’ve not been able to do the incremental things that ensure high academic quality,” he said.

In the small group of students there were a large number of questions.

When Bowling Green junior Suzanna Wilson asked about $57,000 to be used to create more student worker positions, Ransdell asked Provost Barbara Burch to make a note for Friday’s meeting.

Wilson said she works in the management and information systems office in Grise and lives off campus. She wanted to know if she and other students already employed by the university would get a rate increase with the additional money.

“It would be beneficial to me if we could get a raise,” she said.

Fulgham senior Christina Archey asked whether existing students would benefit from additional scholarship money.

“We will look at these funds and make as much available to current students as we can,” Ransdell said.

Adding to the question, Burch said several of the benefits from the increase, such as more money for study abroad and other activities, will be visible immediately.

Archey also wanted to know more about the reason money from private donors isn’t used for academic enhancement.

Ransdell said each donor gives for specific reasons, such as scholarships or construction.

“I can see the benefits from it,” Archey said. “But I still have questions that need to be answered.”

She said she wished more students were at the forum.

“We need more student input in order for an impact to be made,” she said. “They need to hear from us since we’re the ones who are going to be paying the $200.”

Nashville freshman Charity Gore said she attended yesterday’s meeting because she was concerned about the student-to-teacher ratio.

Ransdell said that the ratio has increased from 16 to 1 to 19 to 1 over the last five years.

Gore said she was disappointed that the tuition could still increase again next school year.

“I love Western Kentucky, but after this it will probably be best for me to go back home,” she said.

Gore said there’s no reason for her to pay Western’s high tuitio n when she can just go to school in Tennessee, her home state. She also said Ransdell explained the increase well to the students.

Ransdell said he thinks the students understood how Western spends money, why unfunded enrollment growth can be a problem and why it needs to be addressed now.

“It is serious, but our first responsibility is to ensure high academic quality, and we cannot let that slip,” Ransdell said.

Reach Shawntaye Hopkins at [email protected]