Regents receive budget update, renew line of credit at committee meeting


Herald Archive

WKU President Timothy Caboni listens to Vice President for Strategy, Operation and Finance Susan Howarth speak during the Jan. 31, 2020 Board of Regents committee meeting.

Michael Crimmins, Administration reporter

The WKU Board of Regents’ first committee meeting since June hit on the university’s budget, a new app being developed by a faculty member and an update on the wide world of WKU sports.

According to the Finance and Budget Committee, chaired by regent Jan West, WKU is currently at 38% of its fiscal year budget revenue and 31% of total expenses.

Personnel expenses account for 23% of the budget, up from 22% in the 2022 budget. According to Susan Howarth, executive vice president for strategy, operations and finance, this is primarily due to increases in salaries.

Also approved was the renewal of a $10 million line of credit from Truist Bank. This is the third year in a row the university has taken out the line of credit with Truist.

“This is not a new line of credit, it’s just the renewal. It’s a one-year cycle, it has to be renewed every year,” Howarth said. “As a reminder, this is a ‘best practice’ for higher education institutions or corporations, it’s just there as a safety net. If something drastic might happen you’d have access to $10 million.”

Howarth said she does not expect the university to use the line of credit. WKU did not use it the previous two years.

President Timothy Caboni did not have any concrete news to share on tuition, as the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education will not provide those numbers until later in the year, but he said student enrollment is not always the best metric to look at for budgetary matters.

“I appreciate the incessant focus on headcount,” Caboni said. “[…] The number that matters is how much revenue do you generate from the students that you enroll. That creates the budget stability we need. Sometimes focusing on headcount creates a perverse incentive to balloon that number in ways that are unhealthy.”

Caboni said the university has a goal to recruit 3,100 new students during the current college recruiting season.

Rachel Tinius, associate professor of exercise science, gave a brief presentation to the board showcasing her new app currently in development called “BumptUp”.

BumptUp is an exercise app whose goal is to increase activity in “pregnant and postpartum women.” Tinius said other universities, along with the Center for Disease Control, want her to present the app to them as well.

“People ask, ‘why is our maternal mortality rate so much higher?’” Tinius said. “A big [issue] is obesity. Over one-third of women enter pregnancy obese.”

Tinius said that while exercise and physical activity are effective at combating obesity, high blood pressure and poor mental health, a lot of women stop being as active when they become pregnant.

“Exercise helps with every one of those things,” Tinius said. “This presents another problem, only 15% of pregnant women actually achieve exercise guidelines.”

Tinius has been working on this issue throughout her dissertation and published a paper on this during her first year at WKU. She conducted various blind studies to understand the problem.

She also mentioned a patient-physician communication issue that this app will help solve.

Tinius said she has the trademark for BumptUp, and expects the app to be commercially available in early 2023.

Caboni also provided an update for Conference USA, WKU Athletics’ home league, saying things are in “good shape.”

Also to do with WKU Athletics, the regents approved contract extensions for both of the program’s college basketball head coaches, Rick Stansbury and Greg Collins, locking the pair up until June 30, 2026.

“Greg Collins will receive an increase of two month’s salary for a conference regular season championship or NCAA Tournament bid,” the meeting agenda states. “Rick Stansbury will receive a $50,000 retention bonus on October 1 of each year he is employed, and he will receive $50,000 for annual academic performance rates of 940 and 970.”

Stansbury will also receive two month’s salary for a conference regular season championship or NCAA Tournament bid, along with one month’s salary for an appearance in the National Invitational Tournament.

Both of the coach’s addendums contain “termination without cause” clauses, which will provide a payment if the contract is terminated without cause prior to June 30, 2025.

“When you go into the final year of the contract, that’s not an overall healthy situation – it creates a lame-duck status and makes it more difficult to do your job,” WKU Athletic Director Todd Stewart said. “Specifically in coaching its used against them in recruiting […] I think that when you have really good people doing a really good job, you need to acknowledge that.”

Collins took over as the Lady Toppers’ head coach in 2018, leading the program to a 18-12 record last year along with a Conference USA tournament appearance. Stansbury has led the Hilltoppers to a pair of NIT appearances and is 122-73 since taking the coaching job back in 2016.

At the end of the roughly two hour committee meeting, the board went into closed session to “discuss litigation” by and against the university.

The Regent’s final quarterly meeting of 2022 is scheduled for Dec. 8.

Administration reporter Michael Crimmins can be reached at [email protected].