Regents approve salary changes, first-gen student initiative, Presidential evaluation, more in quarterly meeting

A+special+Board+of+Regents+meeting+to+approve+the+budget+for+the+2022+fiscal+year+will+be+on+Friday.

Jack Dobbs

A special Board of Regents meeting to approve the budget for the 2022 fiscal year will be on Friday.

Debra Murray and Michael J. Collins

The WKU Board of Regents held its last quarterly meeting of the year on Friday, Dec. 10, to discuss the presidential evaluation, approve salary increases, renew WKU Baseball head coach John Pawlowski’s contract, announce new first-generation student initiative and more.

The Regents recently completed their annual presidential evaluation that called President Tim Caboni “an effective leader during a period of unprecedented challenges,” in a synopsis provided by Regent Chair Phillip Bale.

The Regents said Caboni demonstrated “strong leadership ability while articulating a sound vision for the university and making student success a top priority.”

We’re trying to create a welcoming, belonging community so that when they walk on campus there’s somebody to help them understand how to work their way through that transition between high school and college, which can be really difficult for a first-gen student”

— Provost Bud Fischer

After discussing President Caboni’s evaluation, he announced that 84% of students who are not in a living-learning community have re-enrolled for the Spring semester. However, 92% of students who are involved with a living-learning community have re-enrolled for the Spring semester.

“We worked and announced my investiture three and a half years ago, this notion of a First Year Village,” Caboni said. “The question was what could we do to transform that freshman experience. It’s not just about buildings, it’s about changing the experience that our freshmen have.”

Based on the WKU National Student Clearinghouse data, WKU typically loses 200 to 250 students to the University of Kentucky and 100 students to the University of Louisville annually. The highest loss is 6,000 students who apply to WKU and do not attend college anywhere.

“We have to get more young people, not just [those] considering college,” Caboni said. “And by college, I don’t just mean WKU. I mean a certificate, a two-year degree, a technical degree or college degree. One of the ways we have to do that is by not just demonstrating what we do, but how we transform the economic lives of young people who choose post-secondary education.” 

The Regents approved personnel changes discussed in the October committee meeting, including pay raises as high as 50% for specific positions and an overall 1.5% raise across all faculty and staff.

The following reclassified employees saw pay increases of 15% or higher:

Bud Fischer, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs, announced the new “First Generation Faculty and Staff” initiative with the goal of creating a more welcoming space for students who are the first in their families to receive higher education.

“We’re trying to create a welcoming, belonging community so that when they walk on campus there’s somebody to help them understand how to work their way through that transition between high school and college, which can be really difficult for a first-gen student,” Fischer said.

The initiative will create a directory of first-generation faculty and staff for students seeking support and guidance. It will also include organized social events and panel discussions aimed at integrating and educating first-generation students.

“We identified faculty who are first-gen and people interested in supporting this, we put a call out twice in the last month, and we got 150 people to sign up,” Fischer said. “When we started, we figured 20 would be great, and we have 150, so we’re doing great.”

Fischer said this initiative is important to him as a first-gen student himself.

“I didn’t even know where the university was until I showed up that day,” Fisher said. “The transition was a tough one, and what we really wanna do is make this a smooth transition.”

The Regents announced a total of 58 faculty members for emeritus status in recognition of their “distinguished records of achievement and service,” according to the academic affairs agenda. The full list can be found in the agenda.

“This is a remarkable collection of folks who have been committed to and served the university with distinction,” Caboni said.

Emeritus status grants various perks to faculty that extend past retirement, including access to university facilities, discounts in the WKU store and class registration, eligibility for research grants and inclusion in the University Senate.

The Board approved the resolution to renew a $10,000,000 line of credit from Truist Bank. The term of the obligation between WKU and Truist Bank will be from the time of closing until June 30, 2022.

According to the agenda, the line of credit includes a variable interest rate with a minimum of 1.28% per annum. Interest payments will be made monthly.

The Regents also touched on the university’s athletic department, approving an employment contract for WKU Baseball head coach John Pawlowski.

Pawlowski will receive two months’ salary for a conference regular season championship or NCAA tournament bid. 

Pawlowski was hired as the program’s skipper in the summer of 2015 and led the team to a pair of Conference USA Tournaments in 2019 and 2021. WKU has gone 98-164-1 under Pawlowski’s leadership.

The Regents authorized the University to lease 1566 Normal Street for $30,000 annually. The lease will be used by National Pan-Hellenic Council member organizations for offices, member events and communal gatherings.

The house was built in 1936 on a .38 acre lot across from what is now Music Hall and Grise Hall, according to the executive committee agenda. The property previously served as a sorority house for Alpha Omicron Pi and later as a residence for university guests.

The Chestnut Street and Kiss Me Quick property will be demolished within the next few months to create the space for more parking. 

The Regents closed the meeting by approving the following schedule for 2022 meetings:

  • January 21, 2022 – Committee Meetings
  • March 4, 2022 – First Quarterly Meeting
  • April 15, 2022 – Committee Meetings
  • May 5, 2022 – Second Quarterly Meeting
  • June 24, 2022 – Special Budget Approval Meeting and Committee Meetings
  • August 4, 2022 – Retreat
  • August 5, 2022 – Third Quarterly Meeting
  • October 21, 2022 – Committee Meetings
  • December 9, 2022 – Fourth Quarterly Meeting

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

Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MJCollinsNews