WKU president Ransdell unveils sweeping changes

BOWLING GREEN Ky.

Western Kentucky University president Gary Ransdell unveiled a wide-ranging plan on Friday designed to help one of the state’s largest schools shed its “regional” label.

The five-year plan, dubbed “Challenging the Spirit” is designed to make the school “a leading American university with international reach,” Ransdell said.

“Achievement throughout this plan is entirely up to us,” President Gary Ransdell said in a speech Friday morning to faculty and staff. “Any bold vision or organizational intent starts with talented people who have the heart, the intellect, the energy and the passion to achieve.”

Progress will come at a price. The plan calls for a 6 percent tuition increase each year starting in 2008-09.

The plan lays out several benchmarks the school hopes to achieve by 2012, including expanding the student body by over a thousand students, raising salaries for faculty and staff and increasing the number of National Merit scholars to 15.

“You want something to be a stretch, and you want it to be important, but you want it to be doable,” Ransdell said. “Some may seem pretty modest, but none of them can be approached in a vacuum. We’ll be pursuing all of them.”

The project also calls on the school to raise $200 million in private money over the next five years. The school has already raised $91 million of that total over the last two years. Ransdell said the money will be used to pay for everything from expanding the school’s endowment to helping renovate facilities.

Ransdell hopes to increase the number of full-time faculty at the school’s satellite campuses and nearly double the number of online students to 25,000.

“Dr. Ransdell’s vision is to make WKU a little different so there are more choices,” said Donald Greulich, a 1972 graduate of the school. “I think his intent is to bolster the academics and to bolster the choices within the university.”

The plan will focus on some of the initiatives that have started at the university under Ransdell, including the creation of an honors college and support for the school’s Center for Gifted Students.

“If we’re successful, Kentucky wins,” Ransdell said. “As long as we are perceived as a regional institution, it’s going to be very difficult to achieve national prominence.”

Information from: The Courier-Journal, http://www.courier-journal.com

– Associated Press



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