Board of Regents explains upcoming budget, tuition changes, discusses other future changes



President Timothy Caboni listens during the Board of Regents presentation about WKU’s Budget changes that will be implemented in 2020.

Debra Murray, News reporter

The Board of Regents discussed the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and approved upcoming changes to the university in their meeting on Friday.

Additionally, the Regents shared memories and experiences with Julia McDonald, who recently announced her retirement from assistant to the President for board & executive relations. 

Susan Howarth, executive vice president for strategy, operations, and finance, gave a presentation about the budget update for the 2022 fiscal year. The presentation is based on the Budget Executive Committee recommendations with additional funding from the state.

WKU received $1.38 million from state performance funding allocation for 2022, an increase from $787,000 for 2021.

In the presentation, Howarth mentioned the revenue assumptions in the budget proposal, which included a 2% increase on the cost of tuition if enrollment continues to be stable. 

“This [increase in tuition] is not even final yet,” Howarth said. “This is just what the BEC recommended. Since we are a heavy tuition school, that’s an extremely important parameter, which we will not know the final decision on that until Wednesday of next week.”

The proposal recommended a salary pool of 1.5% to be distributed on Jan. 1, 2022, which aligns with performance evaluations. 

“We want to look at creating a salary pool that is close to what the tuition increase will be,” Howarth said.

In the fiscal year 2020, the total reduction target was over $13 million, but for the upcoming fiscal year 2022, the reduction target is just over $9 million. Howarth said the university is making progress.

With the funding from the state and other adjustments made to the proposal, the university now needs to cut $5.73 million this year to help with the ongoing process of balancing the budget.

“Incentives [and] graduation rates have gone up because our strategic plan aligns with the performance funding model,” President Tim Caboni said. “All the work that the faculty and staff have been doing has put us in a good place in comparison to our peers.”

The BEC recommends removing the fee for distance learning permanently, but this decision will not be decided until the budget is approved in June. Removing the fee will have a $4.3 million impact on the budget.

The executive committee discussed an honorific naming for the Barbara and Kelly Burch Institute for Transformative Practices in Higher Education. WKU Provost Emeritus, Barbara Burch, passed away at the beginning of 2020. 

Kelly Burch was her daughter and an associate professor of marriage and family counseling at WKU for six years until she passed away in 2015. The Kelly M. Burch Institute is named after her.

Burch earned a bachelor’s degree in English from WKU in 1959 before completing master’s and doctoral degrees at Indiana University. She returned to her alma mater in 1996 as the Vice President of Academic Affairs.

“I miss her every meeting. She was a great regent,” Regent Philip Bale said. ”I’m glad her name will live on for a long time on this campus.”

Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy