Regents approve raises, suspension of several academic programs


Jake Moore

Regents, faculty and university figures wait for the board’s final decision on the dismissal of Jeanine Huss in the Wetherby Administration Building on Friday, July 29.

Debra Murray, Co-Editor-in-Chief

The WKU Board of Regents held its third quarterly meeting of the year on Friday, approving several salary increases, the employment of a new baseball coach and the suspension of several academic programs. 

Throughout the meeting agenda, raises over $5,000 were listed alongside reasoning. 

Spence Brakefield, director of personal development at LifeWorks and Kellye Marie McIntyre, director of vocational services at LifeWorks, will both receive minimum salary grade increases as a result of the compensation study.

Zachary Greenwell, ​​senior associate athletic director for communications, brand strategy and men’s basketball, will receive a $9,000 raise and Gina Stoll, ​​senior associate athletic director, will receive a $10,000 salary increase approved by Susan Howarth, executive vice president and President Timothy Caboni.

Talvis Landon Franklin, director of operations for men’s basketball, will receive a salary increase “due to reorganization within Men’s Basketball.” His salary was $68,424 and will increase to  $82,000.

Joshua Durkee professor and university meteorologist, received several salary payments of $2,400 “In light of substantial and measurable successful contributions to the Ogden College of Science & Engineering and its students, to bring pay in line with colleagues in the department and close to norms in the file,” according to the meeting agenda.

Rheanna Plemons, assistant pedagogical professor, will receive the minimum salary grade increase as a result of phase 1 of the compensation study. Her salary increased from $53,676 to $64,481.

The regents also approved an addendum for Todd Stewart, WKU’s athletics director, which will extend his employment until July 31, 2026. 

Included in the revisions of his contract is a salary increase. Stewart’s annual base salary will increase from $274,776 to $298,000. The increase has been generated through private funds and is being funded through the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation. None of this increase is coming from the athletics budget or state budget.

Stewart will also receive an additional retention bonus. 

“AD (athletic director) shall be entitled to an annual $50,000 retention bonus as additional supplemental salary for each year employed as AD by the University on October 1 during this Third Addendum’s contract term. The retention bonus shall be funded by the Hilltopper Athletic Foundation,” the agenda states.

The regents also approved an addendum for Amy Tudor, head softball coach, which will extend her employment until June 30, 2026.

Amy Tudor will receive an increase of $15,000, bringing her salary to $94,456. If Coach Tudor remains as Head Softball Coach on Oct. 1, 2024, she will receive a $10,000 retention bonus, as stated in the agenda.

The regents approved an athletic employment contract for Marc Rardin as head baseball coach until June 30, 2026. 

“Marc Rardin will receive $165,000 per year with the possibility of earning bonuses based on the team’s performance,” the agenda states.

“In his 20 years there he won over 900 games in the Junior College World Series 12 times, won the national championship three times and probably the ultimate recognition of what he achieved was inducted into the Junior College Hall of Fame,” Todd Stewart said. “I’m thrilled that he’s now leading our program.”

All salary increases and stipends for faculty and staff can be found in the agenda

Several faculty members were approved for tenure status. 

The regents held a special called meeting in July to vote on the termination of a tenured professor.  

“After our special call meeting, I’ve been thinking about the way in which a university goes through the tenure process,” Caboni said. “What you as a board do in terms of tenure is awarded. And we’ve not talked about this before, but I want to make a point to talk about it today. There are 12 names on that list of personnel actions and when you are approved today those personnel actions. You’re granting tenure to 12 individuals in this institution. And as we all well know, once you grant that tenure, as legislation stands today, you’re the only body that can revoke it. And that’s a weighty decision. As we go forward. I think we’re likely to present those tenure decisions in a different way.”

Several academic programs have been approved to be suspended.

The minor in communication studies, digital advertising are to be suspended. The Associate of Arts in paralegal studies, graduate certificate in measurement, evaluation and research, bachelor of arts in diversity and community studies, and both the minor and major in Arabic are suspended.

Several of the suspensions are due to low enrollment or the ability to gain the same experience in a different program or certificate. 

“There are two obstacles to continuing the program, the most pressing of which is enrollment in courses. Numbers of majors barely surpass a dozen individuals; upper-division courses enroll no more than 3 individuals,” the agenda states. “Secondly, the program coordinator recently retired, and the full-time instructor left in mid-May for opportunities elsewhere. We looked for ways to maintain these programs, but without success.”

Emeritus status for professors in the Ogden and Gordon Ford colleges have been recommended by Timothy Caboni. Catherine Carey, economics professor, Daniel Myers, economics associate professor and Julie Ellis, engineering and applied sciences professor are now emeritus status. 

Regents approved a new name for the ROTC Physical Training Facilities located at the Charles M. Ruter Track and Field Complex. 

The facility will be known as Century Park in honor of the 100th class of WKU Hilltopper Battalion 2nd Lieutenants, who were commissioned in the 2021-2022 academic year.

Finally, the regents approved the lease for dining space in Regents Hall. Roughly 2,600 students live in this area of campus.

“Similar to the lease agreement for the Hilltopper Hall dining space, Hilltopper Hub, Western Kentucky University will lease the dining space in Regent’s Hall from the WKU Student Life Foundation, Inc. for $692,522.63, the total rent due for the lease period of June 30, 2022, through June 30, 2037. Total rent due represents the balance of $1 million earmarked by Aramark for this facility after purchasing dining equipment for these restaurants,” the agenda states.