The Board of Regents met Friday morning for its first committee meeting of 2022, approving sabbaticals for some faculty members, authorizing the creation of a new cybersecurity degree and receiving updates on the proposal for Kentucky House of Representatives budget.
The end of the meeting was marked by an in camera session provided by KRS 61.810(1). According to the meeting’s agenda, it was to discuss “proposed or pending litigation against or on behalf of the University.”
President Caboni joined the Regents via Zoom due to his ongoing COVID-19 quarantine, but appeared in good spirits.
Academic Affairs Committee
The first item on the agenda was the licensing of a Master of Science in Cybersecurity Data Analytics, a program to be housed at the Gordon Ford College of Business.
According to the meeting agenda, the degree is to be online only and will consist of 30 hours in total, 21 of which will be from core courses. The program will begin in the fall of 2022.
Provost Bud Fischer advocated for the major due to the fact that many programs in the WKU area, especially in the Nashville area, offer certificates in this area but not many degrees.
“[Nashville] is a huge question right now,” Fischer said. “If you don’t know, there are certificates out there, there aren’t a lot of degrees out there in that area, and people are looking to advance there. It’s the perfect group of working adults we can get on our side.
Twelve faculty members have been granted sabbaticals, with Caboni taking the time to highlight why a leave of this nature is so important.
“It’s really a big part of what we do at the university,” Caboni said. “Rewarding teachers who have been with us and performing at a high level, but more importantly, helping them think about how they can take a project further that they otherwise couldn’t because they won’t have not the same kind of a rigorous daily schedule on campus.
The Regents closed the Academic Affairs section of the meeting by approving the appointment of University Professor of Music Emeritus John Cipolla. Cipolla specializes in woodwinds and has recorded or performed with artists like the New York City Opera, Aretha Franklin, Dizzy Gillespie and others and is a regular member of the Radio City Music Hall Orchestra.
Finance and Budget Committee
The Regents have accepted the respective audit reports and financial statements of WKU-TV and WKYU-FM Radio for the fiscal year ending June 31, 2021. According to the auditor’s reports, there are no material weaknesses or deficiencies. has been reported.
The Regents then approved WKU Athletics’ NCAA Compliance Report for the same exercise. The program received nearly $13 million in institutional support in 2021, up from a total of $14.1 million the previous year.
According to the university’s quarterly report, revenue represents 71% of its fiscal year 2022 budget, up from 70% the previous year. Tuition revenue is down slightly from $161,827,102 in 2021 to $159,446,260 in 2022.
The only action item from the executive committee was the approval of a Utility easement for Chick-fil-A. The purpose of the easement is to construct a drainage pipe under the WKU property at the Research and Development Center on Campbell Lane to maintain the flow of stormwater on the Chick-fil-A property underground.
Finally, the special meeting for the approval of the budget and the committees of the regents of June 24 has been moved to June 10.
“We need to report our finalized approved budget to the Council on Post-Secondary Education for approval,” Caboni said. “Our meeting, which has always been later in June, was actually after the CPE meeting where they would approve our budget, so we have to do it before their meeting.”
Executive Director of Government and External Relations, Jessica Breiwa Smith, provided the Regents with an update regarding the House of Representatives Budget Proposal that is making its way through the Kentucky Legislature.
Smith explained that the two-year budget, which is still subject to changes from the Senate, added “$50 million each year to performance funding.” No changes were made to the basic state ownership of the university.
The proposal also includes approximately $74.4 million in general fund dollars to be spent on the construction of an all-new building for the Gordon Ford College of Business.
“Now that the budget has passed the House, they passed it last night, it’s already been received in the Senate,” Smith said. “The Senate will now essentially develop its own budget; we don’t expect them to adopt this one as is…we’re one small step in the process of making it all work.
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