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Caboni welcomes new year at faculty and staff convocation

Bailey Reed
President Timothy Caboni awards the Spirit of WKU award at the 2023-2024 faculty and staff convocation.

Western Kentucky University President Timothy Caboni welcomed staff from all fields on campus to his annual convocation ceremony in Van Meter Hall on Monday. The 2023-2024 academic year will be WKU’s 117th official year educating students on the Hill. 

Caboni kicked-off the event by explaining WKU’s three central goals that drive college community growth. 

“I’d like to take some time to reflect on our accomplishments in the past year, and also look ahead in the context of our three areas of focus; our students, our hill, and our community and beyond,” Caboni said. “These go beyond simple organizing principles. They’re the cornerstones of how we spend our time, invest our resources, build our partnerships, revise our efforts, and tell a revolving story to ourselves and to others.”

Caboni then chose to remind staff of their purpose here on campus, while also delving into some statistics dealing with student success and academic welfare. 

“It doesn’t matter your role here at the university. You have one job: to ensure every student we enroll succeeds and ultimately graduates,” Caboni stated. “In just five academic years, student retention at WKU has increased six point seven percentage points, and today we are at seventy eight point four percent, knocking on the door of our eighty percent goal.”

As part of his recognition of student success, Caboni commended the WKU Forensics team for their continued prosperity. 

“Last year, the WKU Forensics Team maintained its national success, winning a National Forensics Association National Tournament Sweepstakes Championship, the Asynchronous Speech Championship, N.F.A.L.D Grand Prix, and the combined team’s national sweepstakes championship at the Pi Kappa Delta National Comprehensive Tournament,” Caboni said. “The Kentucky Forensics Association also crowned WKU as the grand champion for the thirty-first consecutive year.”

Caboni then applauded WKU’s journalism program’s achievements this past year.

“Hilltoppers finished third in the Hearst Journalism Competition, its fourteenth straight top-five national ranking,” Caboni said. “WKU has placed in the top eight for thirty consecutive years, with four overall national championships, and a recent WKU graduate became the school’s sixteenth individual national champion since 1985, winning the 2023 Hearst Multimedia National Championship. Our students are simply amazing.”

As he continued to lead on the event, Caboni continued to guide the motivation for this academic year by verbally illustrating a vision of acceptance and encouragement for the university.

“The reimagined ‘One WKU’ focuses on four main areas: the success of every student, mental health and well-being, active and engaged learning, and mentoring and social support for the entire campus community,” Caboni said. “We will continue our work to ensure every member of our community is supported and finds their place of belonging at WKU.”

Caboni briefly touched on the university’s place within the Bowling Green community and Bowling Green’s place within our university.

“We’re poised, at this moment in our history, to shape the future of our city and our region,” Caboni said. “We know Bowling Green is a great college town, but can we become a great knowledge town? We’re excited and committed to deepening our partnerships with the city.” 

Before closing out the event, Caboni hit on “his favorite part of convocation,” recognizing the Spirit of WKU Award winner. This year, it was awarded to Indudeep Chhachhi, finance professor and department chair. 

“Since joining WKU in 1990, this year’s recipient has served the WKU community, our faculty, our staff, our students, and our alumni, and has been an exceptional ambassador for WKU for his focus on financial literacy,” Caboni said. “[…] His 33 years of service to WKU, to our students and to our community and beyond, makes him more than deserving of this recognition. During this time, he led and served on many strategic committees to advance the university, and he chaired the WKU budget council. 

Caboni described Chhachhi’s achievements as a professor and how he prepares students for a “competitive global marketplace.”

When asked about being the 2023 WKU Spirit Award recipient, Chhachhi was more than overjoyed. 

“This is the most gratifying thing that has happened to me in a very very long time,” Chhachhi said. “I love what I do, and to be recognized for that in this manner is incredibly satisfying.”

Closing out the event, Caboni showed his appreciation to WKU staff and set the bar for another promising school year. 

“Our student’s continued success validates our work to provide a transformational educational experience in an environment where they feel welcomed, engaged, and supported in their aspirations,” Caboni said. “Thank you for helping our hilltoppers flourish. I look forward to a remarkable semester, and a remarkable year as we continue climbing to greater heights.”

News reporter Bailey Reed can be reached at [email protected].

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