WKU to fight cut proposed for 2015
Pres. Ransdell laments costs ($419,000) of Minimum Wage increase
...while moving $250,000 into Assistant Coaches salaries
This from the Bowling Green Daily News:
Western Kentucky University will fight a planned $1.8 million cut in the first year of its possible biennium budget, officials told the Board of Regents on Friday.
In another matter, the regents approved WKU head football coach Jeff Brohm’s four-year contract that pays him $600,000 in base salary each year. Faculty Regent Patti Minter cast the only dissenting vote. Brohm replaced Bobby Petrino, who took the head coaching job at the University of Louisville.
WKU officials are pleased Gov. Steve Beshear’s budget proposal included the $48 million renovation of the Kelly Thompson Science Complex center wing, which would be the first capital appropriation since 2006 for Western. It was the university’s No. 1 capital priority.
However, WKU officials will lobby against a proposed $1,843,900 budget cut in fiscal year 2015. The cut to WKU would be part of $99 million in spending reductions statewide. Included in the proposed $99 million in cuts is a 2.5 percent cut for the state’s universities and the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, said Robbin Taylor, WKU vice president for public affairs. Flat funding is projected for fiscal year 2016.
The university receives about 17 percent of its annual budget from the state.
“This is the first step. We have a long way to go,” Taylor said of the budget process.
Looking at recent activity in Frankfort, WKU President Gary Ransdell said there is about $10 million that university officials need to monitor as the deliberations in the General Assembly proceed. For example, should a bill increasing the minimum wage pass, it could cost the university about $419,000 annually, Ransdell said.
Taylor said there were some bright spots for WKU in the governor’s budget plan: the decision to increase retirement funding $1.3 million and to fund 50 percent of the fiscal year 2015 projected increase, plus $2 million in fiscal year 2016 to expand the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science by 80 students a year to boost enrollment to 200 students.
“This is a win,” Taylor said of the retirement allocation. “We hope to keep it in.”
WKU faculty will also benefit from $2.4 million allocated for “Buck for Brains,” proposed bonds WKU will match with private contributions for endowments, Taylor said.
“We have had very positive conversations to try and reduce the reduction at the higher education level and to keep the capital project,” Taylor said.
On Brohm’s contract, Minter continued to oppose athletic department costs. She did praise inclusion of a clause in Brohm’s contract that, if he leaves WKU, he can’t accept employment or render any services to the football program of any other college or university in Kentucky for two years.
Todd Stewart, WKU athletic director, said total coaching salaries are $1.65 million. Brohm’s salary is less than the $850,000 earned by Petrino, Stewart said, but the current year athletic budget didn’t change since the additional money for salaries was put in the assistant coaches’ line in the budget.
“We can’t afford this,” Minter said. “The situation gets more dire each year.”
Minter asked Stewart to provide a football funds report to her. “Is it making money or is it not making money?” she asked. “I look forward to sharing that information with you,” Stewart told Minter.
Minter said WKU academic departments are run “on a shoestring,” while the athletic department, through funds provided by the student fee at WKU itself, are considerable.
“It’s still entertainment over education,” Minter said.
Stewart said WKU’s $21 million annual budget for athletics isn’t a shoestring budget, but it is less than 75 percent of the nation’s Division 1 programs.
Brian Meredith, WKU associate vice president for enrollment management, said the winter term enrollment was up 80 students and the highest in four years. Spring semester enrollment numbers are still being compiled.
“Things are heading in a positive direction,” Meredith said.