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Responding with Relevant Programs

Engineering Students

Responding with Relevant Programs

If universities are to be economic development engines for the Commonwealth, we must develop academic programs and shape curricula in ways that best meet the workforce needs in the regions we serve.


As the industrial base has grown substantially in south central Kentucky, so too has the need for more engineers. Between 2000 and 2001 WKU sought and received approval to establish programs in Mechanical, Civil, and Electrical Engineering. These programs are designed to prepare new and competent engineers who are ready to make strong technical contributions in the workforce or to continue in graduate studies. In 2012, 545 students are enrolled in these three ABET accredited programs assuring quality and stimulating innovation.

Educational Leadership Doctoral Program

In 2008 WKU established its first advanced professional degree program, the EdD, or Educational Leadership Doctorate, to help meet an increasing need in P-20 education. The program offers four specializations for education and not-for-profit professionals: Teacher Leadership, Organizational Leadership, P-12 Administrative Leadership, and Postsecondary Leadership. WKU’s first class of doctoral students from the EdD program graduated in May 2011. The EdD program currently has 133 students enrolled.

Doctor of Nurse Practice

WKU has a strong history of nursing education and has been graduating nurse practitioners at the master’s degree level for some time. Beginning in 2015, however, the professional standards for the nursing industry state that all new nurse practitioners should be educated at the clinical doctoral level. The DNP is a terminal professional degree that focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing rather than academic research and prepares registered nurses to become nurse practitioners.

Recognizing that only one university in Kentucky offered the DNP, Kentucky universities worked together to pass legislation in 2010 to allow all public universities to offer the Doctor of Nurse Practice degree. The DNP was established as WKU’s second advanced practice doctoral program in 2011 and will graduate the first group of students in May 2014.

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Like many states Kentucky suffers from a shortage of physical therapists. That shortage is especially a problem in rural communities in western Kentucky. Recognizing that the shortage will only multiply as the population ages, a group of physical therapy and hospital professionals in south central and western Kentucky came together for the purpose of creating a Doctor of Physical Therapy program at WKU. Led by local businessman and physical therapist Tom Pennington, this group worked tirelessly to raise funds and in 2011 successfully lobbied the legislature to pass a law granting WKU authority to establish a third advanced practice doctoral program.

The DPT program at WKU is established to serve the health care and preventative needs of Kentucky’s citizens, particularly in the rural and under-served areas of south central and western Kentucky, by developing competent and caring physical therapists. WKU has hired a director, clinical coordinator, and two additional PhD faculty for the DPT program. The first class is anticipated to begin in June 2013.

College of Health and Human Services

The College of Health and Human Services, established in August 2002, is the newest college at WKU. CHHS brings together all health and human services programs under one administrative unit. The College consists of seven departments and offers degrees at the associate, baccalaureate, master’s, and doctoral degree levels. Departments include Allied Health, Communication Disorders, Family and Consumer Sciences, Nursing, Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport, Public Health, and Social Work. The College also oversees the Academic Center for Excellence, the Institute for Rural Health Development and Research, the Kentucky Emergency Medical Services Academy, and the South-Central Kentucky Area Health Education Center and is a partner in the Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex.

Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex (CEC)

The Suzanne Vitale Clinical Education Complex (CEC) at WKU is a community-university partnership that helps individuals and families realize dignity, independence, and productivity by providing services in these areas: Linda and John M. Kelly Autism Program, Vickie and Dan Renshaw Early Childhood Center, Betty and Dr. Page Talley Family Counseling Center, Preston Family Foundation Acquired Brain Injury Resource Program, Family Resource Program, and Communication Disorders Clinic.

The CEC is part of both the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences and the College of Health and Human Services and prepares pre-professionals across disciplines for their careers while conducting research to enhance education and service.

SKyTeach Program

The SKyTeach program, created in 2007, is a partnership between the Ogden College of Science and Engineering and the College of Education and Behavioral Sciences. The program prepares the next generation of math and science teachers by partnering with area school districts to get future teachers into the classroom much earlier than normal. So far 49 certified teachers have graduated from the program with 250 more currently enrolled. For the first five years, grant monies from the National Mathematics and Science Initiative (NMSI) funded the program. WKU was one of only twelve universities, and the only university in Kentucky, to receive this highly competitive grant.

2001 Engineering programs approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education 2002 College of Health and Human Services is formed 2005 Engineering programs receive ABET accreditation 2007 SKyTeach program receives grant funding from NMSI 2008 WKU offers first doctoral degree program in Educational Leadership 2010 Kentucky General Assembly passes legislation to allow DNP programs at comprehensive universities 2011 Kentucky General Assembly grants authority to expand advanced practice doctoral degrees at comprehensive universities First WKU Education Leadership Doctoral program students graduate 2012 WKU Board of Regents approve Doctor of Physical Therapy program Groundbreaking for Health Education Building at The Medical Center at Bowling Green, future home of WKU School of Nursing and DPT program

Medical Center- WKU Health Sciences Complex (scheduled to open in 2013)
Medical Center - WKU Health Sciences Complex (scheduled to open in 2013)

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 Last Modified 9/25/14