BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – The Western Kentucky University Board of Regents today approved a $353.2 million budget for 2020-21.
“A budget is a difficult process for the University in most years but the uncertainty created by the pandemic presented tremendous challenges for us. That uncertainty continues to exist,” President Timothy C. Caboni said. “I’m proud of the work of our budget office, our finance office but most importantly our of entire governance community to come together to assemble a budget that represents who we are as a University, that we are sacrificing together to get through this pandemic, that we are protecting things that are important to us as an institution, and that we are setting the stage to emerge on the other side of this much stronger than we entered.”
The 2020-21 budget is about $34.5 million (or 9 percent) lower than the 2019-20 budget of $387.7 million.
“This is a pretty significant decline and not one we would typically see, but we were working with unique circumstances this year,” said Susan Howarth, executive vice president for Strategy, Operations and Finance.
Approximately $27 million in expenses were reduced or reallocated to balance the budget, including $2.4 million in tiered salary reductions for faculty and staff.
The 2020-21 budget does not include a tuition increase for WKU students. “By keeping tuition unchanged, we felt it was important to support our students and their families and not to place the financial burden caused by the pandemic on them,” Howarth said.
WKU also waived the distance learning fee of $150 per credit hour for one year. If students’ on-campus classes in 2020-21 are switched to online modality by WKU or due to personal choice, their tuition assessment will remain at the on-campus rate.
While WKU responds to the pandemic and budget challenges, Howarth noted that the university remains on track this fall to enroll its largest first-time, first-year freshman class in 18 years.
Regents Chair Frederick Higdon thanked Howarth, her staff, the Budget Executive Committee and WKU’s shared governance groups for their work in developing the budget. “Susan and your team, thank you,” he said. “These are challenging times, but I know we all feel as regents that we are in good hands so thank you very much.”
In other action, the board:
• Recognized Regent J. David Porter of Lexington for his 12 years of service. His term ends June 30.
• Elected officers for 2020-21 — Frederick A. Higdon of Lebanon, chair; Jason McKinney of Alvaton, vice chair; and David S. Brinkley of Bowling Green, secretary.
• Recognized Brian Kuster, who is retiring as vice president of Enrollment and Student Engagement, for his 35 years of service to WKU.