8 things that happened on the Hill this summer

Demolition+work+on+the+Garrett+Conference+Center+continued+Thursday%2C+as+WKU+moves+forward+on+various+projects+around+campus+before+the+start+of+the+Fall+semester.+The+Conference+Center%2C+which+opened+in+1953%2C+was+expanded+in+1964%2C+according+to+the+Kentucky+Museum.+The+building%E2%80%99s+footprint+will+be+filled+by+green+space%2C+according+to+the+university%E2%80%99s+Campus+Master+Plan.

Jack Dobbs

Demolition work on the Garrett Conference Center continued Thursday, as WKU moves forward on various projects around campus before the start of the Fall semester. The Conference Center, which opened in 1953, was expanded in 1964, according to the Kentucky Museum. The building’s footprint will be filled by green space, according to the university’s Campus Master Plan.

Debra Murray, Digital News Editor

WKU is a constantly evolving community and change doesn’t stop when the dorms empty out. Numerous faculty, staff and administration continue their work when the summer begins to prepare for the return of students in the fall.

Demolition work on the Garrett Conference Center continued Thursday, as WKU moves forward on various projects around campus before the start of the Fall semester. The Conference Center, which opened in 1953, was expanded in 1964, according to the Kentucky Museum. The building’s footprint will be filled by green space, according to the university’s Campus Master Plan.

Garrett Conference Center demolition continues

The demolition of Garrett Conference Center began over the summer. Garrett was home to the Forensics team, Java City, Panda Express and all the dining options at the top of the Hill. Java City has been moved to Regents Hall and Panda Express will be in the Commons once it opens.

The building that was once home to military sciences and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences is currently being demolished after being mothballed in 2019.

“It’s always sad to lose a building,” Bob Skipper, former WKU director of media relations said. “It’s ironic that while we’re losing a building, the Helm is getting its third life.”

The Commons nears completion

The Commons, a library with dining options, is expected to be completed during the fall semester. The “intellectual hub,” as WKU’s Commons website calls it, will feature a Spencer’s Coffee, Moe’s Southwest Grill and Rising Rolls, similar to a Panera Bread.

“This is not about a physical structure,” President Timothy Caboni said at an event in July 2020. “This is about a place, on top of the hill, for our faculty, staff and students to gather together to engage deeply and to have difficult and meaningful conversations and what better way to do that than over a meal?”

First Year Village opens to students

Two pod-style residence halls, Normal and Regents Hall in the First Year Village, opened this fall and will now house freshmen in the new Living Learning Communities. Regents can house up to 375 students, and Normal can house up to 260 students. Regents has Java City and The Spread, ensuring that students can eat without even leaving the building.

Normal has three rehearsal spaces students are able to reserve for music practice. Both residence halls have classrooms and offices for faculty fellows to utilize.

Northeast Hall renamed to Munday Hall

The Naming and Symbols Task Force suggested the renaming of several WKU entities. President Timothy Caboni approved the renaming of Northeast to Munday Hall, after the first Black student at WKU, Margaret Munday. She studied music and graduated in 1960 before going on to teach at every school in Logan County.

“I’m really excited that we’ve honored Ms. Munday,” Caboni said. “Her contribution to this campus was remarkable. She was a trailblazer. It was not easy for her, but she persisted through challenges for years not just academically, but also socially, and got her degree.”

Masks required on campus

While many were hoping for a full return to normal this fall, masks are required indoors in all WKU buildings as of Aug. 9.

“I know this will come as a disappointment to some but [it] will allow us to continue with a normal semester in light of the spread of the Delta variant in our communities,” Caboni said in the email when he announced the mask mandate.

Retirement Buyout

As of June 30, 125 WKU employees took the Voluntary Separation Incentive Program, meaning they were able to retire early with an up-front compensation for a year-long salary, limited at $100,000.

Several well-known figures at WKU retired through this buyout, including Bob Skipper, former director of media relations, Larry Snyder, former dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, and Tony Glisson, former director of human resources.

“I love the university and the people that I’ve worked with,” Skipper said at the retiree reception in June. “This is truly a second family. We’ve had some great times. We’ve been through some awful times, but we made it through.”

Academic Changes

At the August Board of Regents meeting, the regents approved three new undergraduate certificates in floristry, athletic coaching and Spanish language, as well as a new degree in legal studies. All academic changes are implemented for the Fall 2021 semester.

The undergraduate floristry certificate requires 15 hours to complete. The certificate is meant to enhance majors including horticulture, hospitality and business.

The undergraduate athletic coaching certificate requires 12 hours to complete and is designed to help students develop coaching and teaching skills that can be used in schools, businesses or community agencies.

The Spanish language certificate requires 18 hours with varying language levels. The certificate will be useful for students in many different programs from healthcare to business.

The legal studies degree requires students to take a mix of political science, history and professional writing course. The degree requires 18 core courses hours, 18 elective hours and a second major, minor or certificate.

Vaccine Incentive Contest

WKU recently announced a vaccine incentive lottery to encourage faculty, staff and students to receive a vaccine.

David Oliver, director of environmental, health and safety, said in an email prizes will include full time in-state tuition scholarships totaling to $5,496, $500 book scholarships and 11” iPad Pros.

The first drawing will be the week of Aug. 30 and the contest will run until Oct. 1, with winners announced each Friday.

“We also know there’s hesitancy, so I would encourage anyone who’s hesitant to please check with their health care provider about vaccination,” Caboni said in August at the Herald Editorial meeting. “But we also think that providing incentive for people to be vaccinated and [to] make themselves eligible for these prizes is important.”

Digital News Editor Debra Murray can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy.