Guided by strategic plan, WKU ready to move forward
- Author: WKU News
- Author: Friday, August 24th, 2018
WKU is ready to move ahead now that the 10-year road map is in place.
That was the message WKU President Timothy C. Caboni delivered to faculty and staff Friday (Aug. 24) during the annual Convocation. (More: Full text of President Caboni's Convocation address; Convocation photos)
“What we have created together is our way forward—how we define and how we direct our future,” President Caboni said of the University’s strategic plan. “We’ve titled this plan ‘Climbing to Greater Heights,’ recognizing that our hill is real in the physical sense and it is symbolic of the journey that is indeed an uphill challenge for many, but one that is rewarding and worthwhile at the top.”
The plan, which was recently approved by WKU’s Board of Regents, is the result of months of work and input from across the campus and the greater WKU community. It is divided into three parts: our students, our hill and our community and beyond.
“The story I want told about this year is that we focused like a laser on the things that will help our students succeed, that will help our campus community succeed, and that will help our region succeed,” he said.
Students are the “heart of everything we do, and the strategies included in our plan ensure we focus even more aggressively on helping every student we admit graduate from WKU,” President Caboni said.
WKU has already changed admissions processes so that students with a Composite Admissions Index (a formula based on high school GPA and ACT score) below 60, are not admitted. Fewer than 20 percent of these students persist to their second year and often leave with thousands of dollars in student loans, and would be better served starting at a community college.
This is purposefully and strategically shaping the freshman class, President Caboni said, “and the initial indicators are positive. This entering class has the highest average GPA at 3.39 and the highest average ACT score of 23.2 of any freshman class in our history. As we fulling implement the student success tactics in our strategic plan, our persistence and success rates will climb.”
WKU is also offering more assistance to incoming students whose high school GPAs are between 2.0 and 2.49. “We know they can be successful,” he said, “but we are going to ask them to do some things we know will increase their likelihood of success.”
Beginning in 2019, these students will be admitted to the Summer Scholars Program, which will bring them to campus five weeks early. They will complete two classes for six credit hours and will live in the same residence hall room they will occupy in the fall semester.
“These students will begin the semester ahead of the game,” he said. “They will know the campus, they will know their faculty navigator, and they will know their peer mentor. We’re going to help prepare them for what it means to do rigorous academic work here at WKU—not just in their first semester, and not just in their first year, but for all four years.”
President Caboni also affirmed the University’s commitment to a 4 percent salary increase pool for employees hired on or before July 1, 2018. Those employees will receive a 2 percent increase on Jan. 1 and will be eligible for up to a 4 percent merit increase.
WKU cannot be successful without elevating the region it serves, President Caboni said. “WKU should be a lighthouse, attracting and building a talent pipeline that supports our economy.”
Over 13 days this summer, President Caboni visited the 27 counties in WKU’s service region plus a few more. The Big Red Road Trip gave him the opportunity to learn more about the areas from which WKU recruits a majority of its students and discuss with community leaders how WKU can best serve those communities.
“We can better understand our students if we understand their communities,” he said. “We all have to lift the red and white curtain that sometimes surrounds our campus. So here’s the challenge. Get off the hill. Get out of the office. Make sure that as part of your work, WKU is genuinely engaged with the communities we were built to serve.”
President Caboni also announced Workforce Administration bachelor’s degree program, a 100 percent online program for adult learners who already have an associate of applied science degree that will allow them to complete a bachelor’s degree in 15 months for $7,500.
“This degree is connected to areas that are in tremendous demand, particularly in the regional markets we serve in Owensboro, Elizabethtown and Glasgow, and it aligns well with the Governor’s expanded Work Ready Scholarship initiative,” he said. “This effort absolutely matches our institutional mission, and it will help support individuals who want to complete their degree and go to work in the communities where they live. It also will serve the needs and demands of the Kentucky economy by moving more adult learners into the workforce.”
President Caboni said the WKU Experience remains necessary and relevant.
“Our students need an education that stretches and challenges their assumptions, that pushes them and supports them, and that inspires them to think differently about the world around them,” he said. “The WKU Experience must create in them crucial habits of mind: a willingness to question systematically; a reliance on reason and evidence; a constant striving to be well informed; a tolerance for divergent views. This is so much more than getting them ready for work. We must remain steadfastly committed to preparing them not just to make a good living, but to make a good life.”
Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295