Board of Regents discusses student conduct policy, university mission statement


Emilee Arnold

WKU President Timothy C. Caboni listens to a speaker during the quarterly Board of Regents meeting at the WKU Innovation Campus on Friday, March 3, 2023.

Michael Crimmins, Administration reporter

Under the darkened canopy of an overcast sky, the Western Kentucky University’s Board of Regents discussed the Student Conduct Policy, student athletes’ success and reviewed the university’s mission statement.

Unlike other Board of Regents meetings that are held in the Cornelius A. Martin Regents room in Jody Richards Hall, the 9 a.m. meeting was conducted at the Innovation Campus off Nashville Road.

“It seems fitting that we’re meeting at the Innovation Center with the winds of change […] blowing inside the higher education world,” Chairman Phillip Bale said. “Innovation and research […] is going to remain the order of the day, sort of speaking. We’d like to thank Buddy Steen for hosting us here today in this unique facility.”

Before the official meeting began, Bale mentioned Harriet Downing, the fourth first lady of WKU, had passed away shortly before the Regents gathered.

“Our former first lady, Harriet Downing, passed away this morning,” Bale said. “She was the epitome of a first lady and quite a lady and a good friend to many of us, so let’s recognize her.”

During the Student Affairs section, Ethan Logan, vice president of enrollment and student experience, presented two university policies that were not on the Jan. 20 committee meeting agenda, the WKU admission policy and the Student Conduct policy.

Logan said the policies were not being revised but rather presented to the Regents in order to formalize them.

“Both [of these] policies we’re looking at here today I want to preface by saying these are both policies we have in place already,” Logan said. “This is a formalization of these policies as university policy in preparation of our accreditation year coming up.”

Accompanied by Scott McDonald, assistant vice president for enrollment management, and Chris Jensen, assistant vice president for student success, Logan presented the admission policy that is already in the university catalog.

There was no discussion or questions from the Regents and the policy was approved unanimously.

Next, Logan, along with Michael Crowe, director of student conduct, presented the Regents with the Student Conduct policy, which included a “slight addition” to align with Kentucky House Bill 290 that was signed by the governor in April 2022.

“The Student Code of Conduct represents conduct standards, the processes and procedures for administration conduct review by the institution and the assurances, rights and responsibilities of students in our institution,” Logan said. “There is a slight addition that came with this policy and that was the incorporation of Kentucky House Bill 290.”

According to Logan, House Bill 290 extends the “due process to certain situations of conduct which would result in suspension, expulsion or removal from university housing.”

In addition to improving due process concerning student conduct matters, it also “create[s] a new section of KRS 164 to require a public postsecondary education institution to publish a report on student discipline every three years” except in specific cases with appropriate exemptions.

This policy was also approved unanimously by the Board after brief questions for Regent David Brinkley and WKU President Timothy Caboni and clarifications by Crowe.

The executive committee section of the meeting included an “athletic academic progress report” presented by Todd Stewart, WKU director of athletics.

According to Stewart, the student athletes have an 87% graduation rate and succeed both academically and in the classroom.

Caboni said he was happy to see the students’ success and glad that athletics gave some the chance to get a college education.

“In a university, there are frequent questions about athletics […] and we talk about many things that athletics brings visibility, it brings student engagement, alumni engagement, but one of the things it does here particularly well at WKU is it gives young people an opportunity to go to college that otherwise might not […] the success it create for those students is exemplar of this university,” Caboni said. “There is almost no other organization at this university that creates that kind of student success.”

“The thing I’m most proud of is that our young people come, they compete and, most importantly, they graduate,” Caboni added.

Caboni, along with Beth Laves, assistant provost, director for accreditation & academic programs and Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges liaison, presented a review of WKU’s mission statement, according to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges standard 4.2.a.

“It’s an important part of our reaffirmation process,” Caboni said. “SACSCOC requires the board on a regular, or semi regular basis to take a look at our mission statement.”

Laves said it was “a core requirement” of SACSCOC for “Institutions to have a clearly defined, comprehensive, and published mission specific to the institute and appropriate for higher education.”

She said the SACSCOC next reaffirmation is in 2025 with the university’s “compliance certification report” due on Sept. 8, 2024.

Caboni said the university’s mission statement is one of the most important things a university has.

“The mission statement guides the entire institution,” Caboni said. “From that flows the strategic plan, flows the work of the faculty and staff, flows all the work that we do to shape the university and elevate it.”

“Make every word count,” Bale said after reading the statement.

Also originally on the executive agenda was a Title IX update by General Counsel Andrea Anderson. Jace Lux, university spokesperson, said in an email that “there was some miscommunication about what was going to be discussed at the meeting today and that was mistakenly left on there after it had already been determined that it wasn’t something for the Board agenda.”

After the roughly two hour meeting, Regent W. Currie Milliken called for a closed session to discuss “proposed or pending litigation against or on behalf of the university.”

The next meeting is scheduled at 9 a.m. on April 14.

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