Dear Faculty and Staff,
I hope you enjoyed a restful winter break and that you took some time to relax and recharge. As I shared with you in December, your work resulted in tremendous, record-breaking successes at WKU last year. We all should be proud of the progress made toward our goals for recruitment, retention, graduation and access, as well as the many other achievements we celebrated across our university.
As we begin a new year on the Hill, we have several strategic initiatives, three of which I announced at my investiture four years ago, on which we have made significant progress and will continue our work to increase student success at WKU:
1. SCHOLARSHIPS: Our efforts to increase access and decrease cost for our students continues with four new scholarship offerings, effective fall 2021:
The Hilltopper Guarantee is WKU’s commitment to support students from the Commonwealth. This scholarship guarantees 100% tuition coverage starting fall 2021 for any first-time, full-time freshman from Kentucky who receives Pell Grant assistance and has at least a 3.0 cumulative unweighted high school GPA.
The WKU Border State Scholarship provides in-state tuition to first-time, full-time freshmen with a 3.0 GPA from the seven states that border Kentucky: Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. WKU currently has almost 3,000 students from those states -- an increase of 22 percent during the past seven years.
The WKU Family Scholarship provides in-state tuition to first-time, full-time freshmen whose parents or grandparents are WKU graduates no matter where they live. In the past, those students were eligible for the Tuition Incentive Program, but this new program will further reduce the cost of tuition by 22 percent.
WKU retooled its Tuition Incentive Program, which will reduce out-of-state tuition by nearly half for non-resident first-time, full-time freshmen with a 3.0 high school GPA or who qualify for any other scholarship award.
These scholarship innovations continue our shift to a net tuition revenue model, enhance our competitiveness in crucial recruitment markets, and build upon the success of last year’s scholarship changes.
2. FIRST YEAR VILLAGE: Opening in fall 2021, the First Year Village reconceptualizes the on-campus living experience at WKU for first-year students. Comprising all residence halls on the south end of campus, including two new pod-style residence halls, Normal Hall and Regents Hall, the First Year Village will connect students with similar academic and extra-curricular interests through WKU’s Living Learning Programs. The village includes new spaces to integrate academic activities within student living areas, including classrooms, study rooms, sound-proof music practice rooms, faculty office space, a faculty-in-residence living space, and more. Designed with approximately 25 students living in double-occupancy rooms situated in pods, coupled with faculty mentors and peer advisors, the new halls move WKU toward an Oxbridge-like model of engagement for our first year students, utilizing our facilities to enable deep engagement with faculty and peers. A park-like green space located in the former Pearce Ford Tower parking lot will create an even greater community environment.
3. WKU COMMONS at HELM LIBRARY: The Helm Library is being transformed into a modern, multipurpose, student-centered building that offers multiple dining options, provides individual study and collaborative work spaces, and facilitates student engagement with faculty and staff. Opening this year, the Commons will provide another location to collaborate with colleagues from across campus and provide students even more individualized attention and support outside the classroom.
4. THE INNOVATION CAMPUS at WKU: Launching this year, The Innovation Campus at WKU is designed to increase close partnerships between businesses and the university. It will elevate our role as a regional lighthouse attracting outside investment and will enhance Warren County’s position as the entrepreneurial connector between Nashville and Louisville. The Innovation Campus will: engage corporations in collaborative research; incubate faculty, staff, and student ideas for commercialization; cultivate and nurture local businesses; and provide a regional hub for entrepreneurial growth, employment, and investment. This initiative draws upon the successes of the Center for Research and Development in developing business relationships and enhancing faculty success.
Building upon the strong foundation and progress we have made in the past three years, we will continue in 2021 to push forward toward the goals and objectives detailed in Climbing to Greater Heights, our 10-year strategic plan.
Here’s to another successful year on the Hill. Go Tops!
Timothy C. Caboni