Western Kentucky University Reviews | Glassdoor

Western Kentucky University Reviews

Updated May 25, 2017
113 reviews

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3.9
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Western Kentucky University President Gary A Ransdell
Gary A Ransdell
63 Ratings

113 Employee Reviews

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Pros
  • Supportive department, beautiful campus, city has good diversity for its size (in 7 reviews)

  • Great Place to work the environment is great (in 5 reviews)

Cons
  • No raise for four plus years due to budget cuts (in 7 reviews)

  • Housing costs for students, and in general the cost of living, remains low relative to many other college locales (in 4 reviews)

More Pros and Cons

  1. "Great University, But As With Most Colleges State Financial Support Poses Challenges for the Future"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Assistant Professor in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Assistant Professor in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    A. Beautiful campus. Relatively compact, as well, providing for relatively easy walking to/from classes and events. (Students complain about "the Hill" - but it's nothing compared to elevation increases seen at many other campuses.) New parking structure will further ease parking pressures on students - which are always present, but no where as severe as they are at most other universities.
    B. Diverse but generally pleasant, peaceful campus community. Relatively low crime rate.
    C. Nice facilities, in general. Although several academic halls are dated and in need of modernization (this is likely to exist on nearly any college campus). Still, many of the buildings are new or have been recently renovated, and are very pleasant and functional.
    D. Great football team. Great tailgating parties.
    E. While it may vary from college to college, in general I believe the leadership of the university is top notch. The new President brings forth a new catalyst for changes to occur.
    F. A very student-centric focus of the university, generally.
    G. A cohesive, student-focused faculty and staff, despite the lack of funding for faculty salary increases over many years. I'm rather surprised that faculty and staff morale and dedication is as high as it is - and this is a credit to the strength of character of Western's faculty and staff.
    H. Great IT support, in all respects.
    I. Benefits provided to employees remain good. Better than in most states, but not as good as some states. Still, this remains a positive.

    Cons

    1. The largest concern is, and will be, the decline in state funding. The State of Kentucky, second only (perhaps) to Illinois, has a severe crisis as to the under-funding of its defined benefit plans. Of the total $11-12B state budget, $1.5B now goes to the state pension plan. A recent report indicates that a total of $2.2B is needed, for many years - a $700M increase in funding for the state retirement plans, each year! If the State Legislature addresses this problem (which it must), continued cuts to higher education (and nearly all other parts of the Kentucky State Budget) are inevitable.
        2. This must be put against the backdrop of the lack of substantial faculty/staff pay raises - for many years. While, nationwide, the state support for higher education has rebounded, up 15% or so (and, if you exclude Illinois, up 20% or so) over the past five years, this is not the case in Kentucky. We are down 5.2% in state support over the past 5 years. And, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (in 2016), Kentucky ranked 6th-worst among states in the percent change to higher education funding per student since 2008. The amount of state funding provided for each student in Kentucky dropped 32 percent, or $2,771, since the recession in 2008 (until the report date).
        3. The effect of this lack of state funding is felt most by students. Higher tuition rates have occurred, although Western Kentucky University still remains quite affordable compared to other universities (both in Kentucky and elsewhere). Housing costs for students, and in general the cost of living, remains low relative to many other college locales. Still, the "funding gap" for students which has occurred (due to the lack of federal increases in the sizes of grants) continues to be exacerbated, as WKU's tuition rates continue to (modestly) increase, and as new student fees are added at times.
        4. As a result of the above, faculty and staff pay is low, relative to other (benchmark) institutions. This has resulted in various inequities (as often exist at universities, as they pay new talent nearly as much as experienced faculty). And it has led to the loss of too many highly qualified applicants, as they receive better offers for employment from competing universities. While a 3% pay increase over 2 years has been provided (after years of none), this has not even kept salaries up with inflation over the two-year period (in all likelihood).
         5. The "easy" budget cuts have likely already been made. Cuts to student services are likely, in the future. As are possible cuts to entire programs, depending on the severity of state under-funding.

    Advice to Management

    1) Budget for steady (or even lower) enrollment, in the years ahead. Demographically, much of western Kentucky (outside of Bowling Green) will see a population decline; take this into account.
    2) Increase efforts at student retention. It's a moral issue, as well as a fiscal one. Set the goal, make it a priority, identify current programs and resources, identify cost-effective ways to make student retention efforts better. (See #11, below.)
    3) In good economic times (such as now), seek to double fund-raising. Since fund-raising is already good, this is a monumental challenge - but it can be done, with focus. Use the funds to endow more faculty positions, to relieve pressure on the ongoing budget. And, possibly, to provide ongoing revenue (from the endowment funds) to enable student fees to be dropped. The long-term fiscal soundness of WKU will likely depend upon its ability to offset past and future state funding declines with a substantially greater endowment.
    4) Seek to reduce various student fees, or eliminate them. Essential to lower the "funding gap."
    5) Encourage faculty to adopt free textbooks - especially for widely-attended core courses. If other higher education institutions can do it, so can WKU. Everyone needs to "pitch in" to close the funding gap - and faculty can do this by choosing free or lower-cost textbooks when appropriate to the teaching method.
    6) I hate to suggest this, but the money spent on athletics needs to be scrutinized. As well as the potential liability that WKU may incur, due to concussions in football and other sports. A legal review of potential liability may be required, followed by non-public discussions among the regents of the issue.
    7) Money spent on WKU's support for the community - extended learning, centers, etc. - will need much closer scrutiny. What impact do these programs have, relative to the impact that has (and will) occur due to underfunding of faculty/staff salaries and due to increases in tuition and student fees?
    8) Explore efficiencies in educational programming. Such as the use of "mentors" rather than professors to communicate and monitor students in online classes. (This, in turn, should enable faculty to teach more students in online classes.) Seek out these and other efficiencies that will not reduce the quality of education. Such efficiencies are difficult to identify, but some exist.
    9) Have every major map out a 3-year path to graduation for students. And ensure that the classes are offered (and available) to students to permit such path to be realized. This would substantially reduce the cost of attending college.
    10) Provide a "first semester online" option for incoming students who are local. Have them attend Master Plan, and become involved in groups on campus. But permit them to reside at home, as a means of reducing the overall cost of attending. This will only be successful if sound practices are followed in online education, including the use of mentors to proactively reach out to each student, once a week.
    11) Every freshman student should have a single person at WKU who is RESPONSIBLE for that student's success in the first semester of college. Whether it be an RD, academic advisor, faculty member, or staff member. And - train these individuals up. At a minimum, ask faculty/staff to volunteer to mentor a few students, each semester, and provide clear instructions and training on how to best monitor students' paths, and what resources to bring to bear when students begin to underperform relative to their potential.


  2. "Coordinator"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Office Coordinator in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Office Coordinator in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Positive environment and the job is excellent. I enjoy working for an educational institution. I am able to schedule my own hours.

    Cons

    Since I am a student worker, I can only work 20 hours per week, and can only work while school is in session. This is not the fault of the employer since the government makes these mandates on higher education institutions.

    Advice to Management

    Allow students to apply to jobs posted as internal search.


  3. "Resident Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Resident Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Former Employee - Resident Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at Western Kentucky University part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very welcoming community, wants students employees to get the best education possible while working for them and professional developing young people.

    Cons

    The judicial affairs office seems very condemning. If they think you did something bad you might as well check out of wherever you live. This does not effect the job to an overwhelming degree, but is something to keep in mind.

    Advice to Management

    I really loved working at WKU and miss my time there.


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  5. "KRS Graduate Assistant"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Graduate Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Graduate Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Very focus but laid back supervisors

    Cons

    I really have nothing bad to say. I have enjoyed my time as a Graduate Assistant.


  6. "Work Environment"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Graduate Teaching Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Former Employee - Graduate Teaching Assistant in Bowling Green, KY
    Doesn't Recommend
    No opinion of CEO

    I worked at Western Kentucky University (More than a year)

    Pros

    Department of journalism and broadcasting is interesting to work with. They are helpful and always willing to work with you. There is a chance to grow if someone wants to get good experience.

    Cons

    Some assistant professor behaves bad with the students. A minute late will cause rebuke and annoying behavior. Watch out for those professor. They can mess you up completely.

    Advice to Management

    I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. JAmes Fox. WHo was a former dean and very helpful towards students. You people need to improve minimum wage for student jobs.


  7. "Good to get experience"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Graduate Research Associate in Bowling Green, KY
    Former Employee - Graduate Research Associate in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at Western Kentucky University part-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    If you are starting your career working as GTA is great at the University. You learn from all surrounding you and get support for improving your skills.

    Cons

    Pay is low but can be adjustable

    Advice to Management

    Nothing


  8. "Great benefits. Terrible review and tenure policies"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Kentucky in Bowling Green, KY
    Former Employee - Kentucky in Bowling Green, KY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at Western Kentucky University full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    This university had so much potential.

    The benefits are decent. Better than other universities I've been at actually. Including retirement

    Cons

    This university had so much potential. But, if they continue to only hire and promote from their own shallow pool of graduates (called inbreeding in academia). They will never grow or become anything more than a regional university.

    Most universities attempt to hire only graduates from other universities as faculty. The keeps ideas flowing, and promotes growth and diversity. The staff in at least one of the colleges of the university is almost entirely made up of WKU graduates who teach things the way they've been taught for 20 plus years. This is no way to lead a progressive educational institution into the future. There are also very few diverse faculty of any type other than Caucasian in this same college. The ones that were of other races or cultures either left or were discriminated against when it comes to tenure and promotion. One, who was a practicing member of the Jewish faith was questioned with a veiled threat of punishment, as to why they needed days off for major Jewish holidays.

    At least in one college that I taught in, the review policy is shoddy and flawed at best. One person reviews you each year. If they don't care for you, or your student reviews are less than stellar (actually they can rationalize anyway they choose since it's only them making the decision) you lose your job. It doesn't matter if this was because they didn't like you for political or personal reasons, overheard detrimental rumors by students in the hallway (this happened to me, and was counted as a negative on my review. Since we all know every student is happy with every teacher everyday without fail. This was a silly and trivial typical unhappy student just venting situation too.), they can just get rid of you. There's no oversight or fair trial. Just a whim.

    The benefits are decent. Better than other universities I've been at actually. But the pay was $10k less than any other public institution a colleague and I researched in the nation. That's for the exact same faculty position. You will also be expected to teach a 5/5 load if you are in this college and not tenure. Tenure is 3/3. That's ridiculous, and an overload at most institutions.

    To maintain quality faculty, breed diversity, and bring in other methods and skills besides those already taught at the university they need to seriously review and revamp their hiring, dismissal, salary, and other faculty policies.

    They also will accept students who score incredibly low on college entrance exams, and then place them into classes way above their level of current ability with few resources to help them. This sets these students up to fail, only to end up with student loans they cannot afford to pay back. It's all about retention at any cost at this school. I have never known another university that will reinstate students who have failed classes, give them a pad on the class they failed, and let them go on, just to keep "numbers up." Is deplorable in so many ways.

    Advice to Management

    Develop much more diverse and effective hiring, promotion, tenure, and firing policies.

    Stop the huge amount of invent going on.

    Make sure there is more oversight into hurting and firing than one person's viewpoint.


  9. "Athletic Tutor"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Student Athlete Tutor in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Student Athlete Tutor in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University part-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    Flexible schedule. Welcoming staff and supervisors.

    Cons

    Challenging clients (student- athletes) sometimes.


  10. "Manager/Director"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bowling Green, KY
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    WKU offers flexibility and the opportunity to work with diverse populations. Higher education is continually changing, and that brings new and exciting challenges to the table, which is also a plus.

    Cons

    Raises are few and benefits have continued to be cut over time. However, WKU still remains one of the best places overall to work in Bowling Green.


  11. Helpful (1)

    "Outsourcing of HRL & Bldg Srvs Housekeeping, Grounds crew. Over 200 employees moved from WKU to Sodexo"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bowling Green, KY
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Bowling Green, KY
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at Western Kentucky University full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    Kept a job. Get a dollar increase, same environment, same leadership. Essentially moved from one payroll to another in an effort to save money as an institution.

    Cons

    Lost future pension, lost paid education , lost paid breaks. Higher medical premiums. All the reasons to work for Higher Ed are taken away.

    Advice to Management

    Don't say you care! Your actions speak louder than your words and reteriq. WKU chose easy targets to shave costs. Admin. should dig deeper and cut costs and redundancy


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