Caboni says WKU 'turning a corner' in Convocation address

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) - WKU President Timothy C. Caboni says Western Kentucky University is turning a corner and beginning to see results as it begins to implement its 10-year strategic plan, “Climbing to Greater Heights.”

“This year is about execution,” Caboni said in his Convocation address to begin the 2019-20 academic year. “It’s about doing all of the small things that cumulatively move an organization. Practicing relentless incrementalism.”

A re-conceptualized marketing approach and outreach, changes in financial aid and centralized advising that includes targeted interventions are parts of the strategic plan designed to help every student succeed. And the results include the reversal of a five-year downward retention trend that includes the second highest first-to-second year retention rate in WKU history, Caboni said.

“Our successes are not because of any one thing we have done, but because of all the things we have done and all of your work,” the President told faculty and staff. “These are results we all should celebrate.”

Caboni says the university must demonstrate for families and students the lifelong value of a college degree as well as the economic benefit. That is one of the reasons the University has shifted focus from recruiting first-year students to recruiting future WKU grads. “Our goal is not just to get them on our Hill for one semester or for one year. Our goal is to provide them with the full transformative experience, and that happens only when they complete their degree.”

WKU will also continue evolving its program offerings. Caboni said that in addition to the 15 programs identified for immediate investment and growth, there were 55 targeted for transformation to meet the needs of students, families, communities and the marketplace.

“You would be hard pressed to find another institution that took the leap to innovate in this way, and that is remarkably exciting for us as a community,” he said.

Caboni also cited the past two years as the best ever for fundraising at WKU at $45 million and $41 million.