2% tuition increase, new student regent, other topics discussed at EKU Board of Regents meeting

RICHMOND, Ky. (WTVQ/Richmond Register) – A multitude of topics were addressed during the Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) Board of Regents first in-person meeting since the pandemic.

According to the Richmond Register, the board passed a 2% tuition increase as well as a 2% increase to student housing and a 1.2% increase in dining rates. Two fees, the Student Health Fee and the Eastern Experience Fee, were also approved.

Part of the budget will go toward recurring base salary adjustments. Except for the President’s Cabinet and those with an employment contract, all full-time faculty and staff who were on the payroll as of Jan. 1 will receive a $1,000 base salary bonus starting in July.

Matt Roan, Director of Athletics, announced the athletics department’s 19th straight semester with an average GPA over 3.0. The baseball program had its highest revenue this season since 2017 and football ticket sales are projected to go over their goal of $100,000. Campus Recreation has gone back to normal operations as well. Roan also talked about the ASUN Launch Event Thursday, July 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Richmond Center. Along those same lines, the club hockey team will be moving to the Southeastern Collegiate Hockey Conference.

Also discussed at the meeting was student engagement. Vice President for Student Success, Engagement and Opportunity Tanlee Wasson shared that over 2,000 students have registered for Fall 2021 orientation between their in-person and virtual options. Online enrollment is said to be up over 10% and graduate enrollment has increased more than 11%.

Wasson and Loni Yost, director of Student Life and First Year Experience touched on their excitement for events scheduled for the upcoming academic year. These will include the Big E Welcome, a Powell Palooza and numerous events anticipated to attract more student engagement.

Student Government Association (SGA) President Eyouel Mekonnen gave his final update to the board and said the spring’s SGA election had one of the highest voting participation. He was recognized for his service and dedication. Jenna Grace Smith, the newly elected SGA president, was sworn in to the board as the student regent.

President McFaddin also gave updates on the ongoing dean searches for the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, the College of Business and the College of Justice and Safety.

Other announcements included:

• The board formally confirmed and conferred the degrees for the candidates who have completed degree requirements for Spring 2021 and Summer 2021.

• A university certificate in Banking and Financial Services was approved by the board. This certificate is designed to provide a key understanding of the foundational concepts of personal finance, banking, investments, financial planning, valuation and analysis.

• Two programs were approved to be suspended. The masters in personnel services in higher education and the bachelors of science in geographic information systems program were suspended due to low enrollment numbers.

• The board approved to reinstate the bachelors of science in family and consumer sciences (teaching) program.

• Five revised university policies were approved by the board. Policy on Policies and Regulations, intellectual property policy, course syllabi policy, the drop or withdrawal from courses policy, and the nepotism and amorous relationships policy were updated.

• All policies except for the policy on policies and regulations were posted for 14 days for public comment.

• The regents adopted an annual operating budget for fiscal year 2021-22. The total operating budget passed was $379,541,560. A revenue budget of $144,037,554 was set for tuition and class fees. A bond resolution of $25,430,000 was approved by the board. These funds will be used to renovate residence halls. “As we think about the next normal, I don’t expect us to just go back to who we were and what we did in 2019. If we’re not improving, if we’re not getting better, then we’re not moving forward,” McFaddin said.

• Bethany Miller, senior director, institutional effectiveness & research, proposed a “One Stop Shop” plan that would be a single location for students to get help with anything from registration, holds, records, financial aid, billing or any other assistance they may need. Miller asked the board for $50,000 to set up a location in Whitlock and lower Powell. Streamlined services and cross trained staff will help address a variety of student needs at the two locations. An enhanced website and kiosks will allow for intuitive self-service and online chats for students to get the assistance they need. The proposal was passed by the board with only one no from regent Juan Castro.

• Tim Ross, chair and professor of applied engineering and technology, and Ethan Witt, assistant vice president, government & community relations, were appointed by the board to represent the university on the Madison County Airport Board.

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