President talks about WKU's future during Investiture Ceremony
- WKU News
- Friday, April 27th, 2018
WKU President Timothy C. Caboni used a ceremony rooted in tradition to talk about the university’s future.
During the Investiture Ceremony for WKU’s 10th president Friday, President Caboni outlined a number of strategic initiatives that will help the University look forward. These initiatives, combined with an evolving strategic plan, “will anchor us and it will guide us, it will focus our attention and our resources, it will hone and winnow our priorities, and it will ensure that we maintain that all-important student focus that has been the foundation of this institution since its beginning,” he said. (More: Read President Caboni's remarks; WKU Week in Photos Special Edition: Investiture Ceremony)
The strategic initiatives include:
Improving the student experience by creating a First Year Village to help entice students to return after their first year.
“I have challenged our Student Affairs and Academic Affairs leadership to work together to create a robust first-year experience that will connect our students at the very start of their academic careers to their faculty and peers in an environment that encourages growth, bonds them to the institution and puts them on a path to success,” President Caboni said.
A living-learning community will be built on the footprint of Bemis Lawrence and Barnes-Campbell halls, which are slated to be replaced. Classrooms, study rooms, social spaces and living spaces will be combined, connecting students with similar interests, goals and shared challenges with faculty, staff and student mentors “who will help them navigate through the first year and matriculate successfully to the second, setting them on a path to timely completion,” he said.
Rethinking how we gather as a community of scholars.
The partnership with Aramark “provides us with a unique opportunity to transform and to rethink where and how we gather over meals as a campus community,” he said. That partnership provides funding to renew dining services in the academic core at the top of the hill.
“Instead of simply rebuilding the Garrett Conference Center, we will invest those funds into our campus libraries, creating an intellectual hub that invigorates engagement, stimulates learning and creates a sense of community for the entire WKU family,” President Caboni said.
The WKU Commons will be a partnership between University Libraries and Dining Services to create collaboration areas, spaces where digital scholarship and data are used and flexible teaching spaces that are adaptable and enhance and enable active learning and problem-based instruction.
“Essentially, we will create a flexible and modern common space that serves as a dining destination for our entire community,” he said.
Engaging more closely with local industry and investors.
Applied research is central to the University’s mission and essential to the undergraduate experience. President Caboni said this research leverages WKU’s intellectual capital to elevate the local and regional economy, to drive innovation and to fuel growth.
The WKU Innovation Campus “will be a lighthouse that attracts the best and most innovative thinkers and brings them together around the table to create the next generation of companies that will grow here,” President Caboni said. It will bring the Research Foundation, the Office for Research and Creative Activity and the Center for Research and Development together in a single location “where our corporate partners co-locate, where student companies incubate and where new ideas are created.”
Ensuring we remain affordable and accessible to our families.
Access to education, where talent is developed, is threatened by rising costs.
“We must continue our press toward being more efficient and keeping our costs under control,” President Caboni said. “We also must continue to advocate for appropriate state investments to cover our routine fixed-cost increases and to enable us to meet the needs of our students.”
The tradition of funding opportunity for WKU students began with founder Henry Hardin Cherry and a $100 gift from a faculty member in 1923. In that spirit, President Caboni announced the creation of the WKU Opportunity Fund, a focused effort to raise $50 million to support WKU students.
“Beyond tuition support, the WKU Opportunity Fund will enable our students to access educational experiences that otherwise might remain out of their reach,” he said. “It will help our most needy students attend conferences, study abroad, pursue national internships and present papers. It will unlock those crucial and meaningful experiences designed to enhance classroom learning, that often seem unattainable to students struggling just to make ends meet.”
Ensuring the experience we provide remains true to our ideals.
WKU is and should be a place where all are welcomed, included, supported and cared for, President Caboni said.
“The WKU Experience must intentionally create intellectual discomfort and challenge our students to broaden their worldviews. We want to encourage them to think broadly and to be a part of something bigger and less familiar,” he said. “However, I also hope our students leave WKU with a set of core values and beliefs that are not negotiable; that there is right and wrong; good and bad; acceptable and unacceptable. And to know that those values will be challenged.”
And while WKU graduates must have the skills to be successful in the workplace, “we must impart them with an intellectual nimbleness and facility with ideas, so they are prepared for jobs that haven’t been thought of today,” he said.
President Caboni became WKU’s 10th president on July 1, 2017, after serving as vice chancellor for Public Affairs at the University of Kansas. He earned his master’s degree in corporate and organizational communication from WKU in 1994, and he holds a doctorate in higher education and policy from Vanderbilt University.
The Investiture Ceremony was sponsored by Graves Gilbert Clinic.
Contact: Bob Skipper, (270) 745-4295