CAPE recommendations approved by WKU Academic Affairs Committee

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. – At a committee meeting among members of the Western Kentucky University Board of Regents, the recommendations for WKU’s Comprehensive Academic Program Evaluation (CAPE) were voted on and approved, pushing them forward to a final vote of approval that will be held by the full board in May.

“We believe that this is in the best interest of the university and that these will be very attractive programs to students – the transformed and what we have maintained,” said acting WKU Provost Dr. Cheryl Stevens.

Should the vote pass in May, there will be 101 less academic programs available to the students at Western.

“We took a quick survey of what our benchmark universities were offering, an it’s in the high 200s,” Merrall Price, special assistant to the provost. “So if we do suspend 101 programs that would actually get us down to right about where our benchmarks are.”

Of all the programs recommended for suspension, most came from faculty.

75% of the recommendations actually came from the department and program level.

“Everything that we do will have to go through the faculty,” said Price. “We are expecting that we’ll be able to start taking curricular actions next spring, with the expectation that we’ll be offering some transformed programs by fall of 2020.”

WKU will also not be accepting students into suspended programs as of August 26, 2019.

However, students currently enrolled in programs that would be suspended if a vote pass will still be able to finish out their degrees.

“Since we have invited students to join us to major in particular programs, we’re obligated to offer them a reasonable chance to complete those programs even if they are on the suspend list,” Price added.

Faculty, meanwhile, won’t necessarily be laid off – but this will likely have to adapt to the changes and widen the array of courses they teach.

“They’re going to have to expand their teaching base a bit and take on some different classes,” said Price.

When these changes fully go into effect, Provost Stevens is hopeful that the transformation of the academic offerings will prove to be a solution in helping to solve the university’s current issue of student recruitment.

“We’d like to think that this is going to increase our enrollment because people will want to come here and be part of this change and excitement,” Stevens said.

WKU has never done such a comprehensive review of its programs, but Stevens didn’t rule out the possibility of it happening again in the future.

Ultimately, that will depend on the success or failure of the programs the university is looking to transform.