The Eastern Kentucky University Board of Regents, meeting in regular session on Monday, Oct. 24, heard positive reports on student success, construction, fundraising and the annual audit.
Dr. Laurie Carter, executive vice president and University counsel, shared in a presentation titled “Student Success Metrics” that EKU’s freshman retention rate is at an all-time high and that four- and five-year graduation rates continue to climb. The four-year graduation rate has nearly doubled in seven years, and the five-year rate has increased approximately 36 percent over the same period.
With overall enrollment remaining roughly steady at approximately 17,000, this year’s freshman class was the second largest in Eastern history, behind only the Fall 2015 class, and the best-ever academically prepared class. “Our focus,” Carter said, “continues to be attracting and retaining the best students.”
Paul Gannoe, associate vice president for facilities services and capital planning, updated the board on various construction projects either in progress (all on schedule and on budget, he said) or in the planning stages. Among other updates, he noted that:
· phase 2 of the New Science Building is on track for completion in June 2017. The addition, which will house the departments of Biological Sciences and Geosciences, will give EKU the largest such facility on any college campus in Kentucky.
· New Martin Hall and New Hall B, both financed by a public-private partnership, are expected to open in time for the Fall 2017 semester and provide two new on-campus residential options.
· a new Scholar House, in partnership with Kentucky River Foothills and others, is expected to be complete in Summer 2017. The residential facility for single parents will be located on the former site of Brockton 700 and 800 apartments.
· a new 320-space parking garage, located adjacent to the Scholar House, is expected to open in July 2017. It is part of the same public-private partnership that is financing the new residence halls.
· planning is underway for both a renovated student union and a new student recreation and wellness center, both financed by a student special usage fee. Gannoe said construction should begin on the fitness center in Fall 2017, with an expected completion date of Spring 2019. Renovations to the student union should begin in Spring 2019, with completion expected in 2020.
· construction of a new dining hall, financed by Aramark Educational Services LLC as part of a 15-year agreement with the vendor, is expected to be substantially complete by late 2017.
· Carloftis Garden, near the intersection of Lancaster Avenue and Park Drive and also part of the residence hall public-private partnership, is expected to be complete by next summer.
· repairs to the Lancaster Avenue pedway should be finished in time for the Spring 2017 semester. A second pedway, across the Eastern By-Pass near Alumni Coliseum, is now in the design stage and expected to be completed sometime in Fall 2017.
Nick Perlick, vice president for development and alumni relations, informed the board that private support for the past fiscal year totaled approximately $8.9 million, an all-time high for the institution, adding that he was “optimistic about continued growth.”
The Board also approved a “clean” audit conducted by Crowe Horwath LLP.
Also at the meeting, Dr. Janna Vice, provost and senior vice president for academics, announced an opportunity for eligible faculty to participate in an Enhanced Retirement Transition Program (ERTP). Faculty who meet the criteria must be eligible to retire by no later than July 1, 2017, and confirm their intentions by no later than Monday, Nov. 14. The ERTP allows faculty to continue teaching half time for one or two consecutive years (2017-18 and 2018-19) and provides a salary up to 50 percent of the applicant’s nine-month base salary upon retirement.