WKU President announces ‘record breaking’ retention


Tucker Covey

WKU President Timothy C. Caboni sits at the Board of Regents meeting in the Regents Room inside Jody Richards Hall on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022.

Michael Crimmins, Adminstration reporter

Western Kentucky University’s President Timothy Caboni sent a faculty wide email extolling them for the university’s “extraordinary” and “record breaking” retention rates for fall 2022 to spring 2023.

The numbers are the best WKU has seen since they started keeping track in 2010, with 85.1% undergraduates returning for their next semester, according to the email. There was a 4.8% increase in “first-time, first-year” students returning for their next academic year.

“The rate at which students continue their education with us, semester to semester and year to year, demonstrates continued progress toward our goal of an 80% first-year retention rate outlined in our strategic plan, Climbing to Greater Heights,” Caboni said in an email. “It is evidence of your commitment to provide an unparalleled academic experience for our students – from extraordinary instruction and hands-on application to residential life, campus engagement and more.”

The email said 91.1% of WKU’s first-time, first-year students returned, “representing […] the highest returning percentage for this population since tracking began in 2010.”

Minority student retention rates have also increased to 90.8%, the highest percentage recorded since 2011, according to the email.

Also included in the email shows a 6.1% increase between those students who participate in Living Learning Communities than those who do not.

Our continued and growing investments in Living Learning Communities provide students with immediate access to faculty with a shared academic interest, coupled with a supportive living environment and opportunities for academic and social engagement outside of the classroom,” Caboni said. “We see the direct effects of these investments in their retention and success.”

Caboni’s email ends with a note of appreciation to the faculty and staff, with Caboni saying these “remarkable results demonstrate the efficacy of our commitment” to WKU students, social integration and the university’s academic approach.

Because of you, students are not only choosing WKU to begin work toward a degree, they are choosing to continue their higher education journey as a Hilltopper through graduation,” the email stated. “Congratulations on your good work, and thank you for your extraordinary dedication to providing a transformational experience on our Hill.”

Potter College of Arts & Letters Dean Terrance Brown said he is thankful to the faculty, staff, alumni and students “who worked to build a community of belonging.” Their hard work made the success shown in the retention rates possible, Brown said.

Any success in enrollment is directly related to their dedication and devotion to the WKU family,” Brown said in an email.

Dean of Ogden College of Science and Engineering David Brown echoed Terrance Brown’s sentiment and said the faculty and staff made a “concerted effort,” saying he is proud and happy to see the positive retention rates and the benefit afforded to WKU students.

Christopher Shook, dean of the Gordon Ford College of Business, said he is thrilled to see the increase, calling it “astoundingly high.” He attributes the increase to the changes in the business curriculum, the LLCs and to the faculty and staff.

“Retention is the first step to graduating students  and all of us at GFCB are passionate about our students and their success,” Shook said in an email.

The Herald also reached out to Deans Tania Basta and Corinne Murphy as well as the Vice President of Enrollment and Student Experience. The story will be updated as they provide comments.

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