WKU College Heights Herald - Sept. 6-Oct. 24, 2022

Page 1

THE MAN IN THE SEAT

Sept. 6-Oct. 24, 2022

A LOOK AT PRESIDENT CABONI’S FIRST FIVE YEARS AT WKU GRAVES GILBERT CLINIC HEALTH SERVICES 1681 Normal Drive Bowling Green, KY 42101 270-745-CARE (2273)


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VOLUME 98 ISSUE 1

04 05-13 14-17 19-23

CONTENTS Letter from the editors Five years of President Caboni Arabic students grapple with suspension of program Harbaugh reflects 20 years after title

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Print edition published three times each semester by WKU Student Publications at Western Kentucky University. First copy: free | Additional copies: $5

LETTER FROM THE EDITORS

EDITORIAL BOARD Debra Murray Co-Editor-in-Chief Jake Moore Co-Editor-in-Chief Tucker Covey Photo Editor Carol Coronado Social Media Manager Megan Fisher Design Editor

Joseph Thompson Sports Editor Grace Stephens Video Producer Alexandria Anderson Content Editor Jack Ezell Newsletter Editor

OTHER LEADERS AND ADVISERS Cristina Betz Cherry Creative Director Carrie Pratt Herald Adviser

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POLICIES

Opinions expressed in the College Heights Herald are those of student editors and journalists and do not necessarily represent the views of WKU. Student editors determine all news and editorial content, and reserve the right to edit or reject submissions.

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CARRIE PRATT

Hello! If you can’t tell already, the College Heights Herald looks different this semester. You’re currently holding the first news magazine in our publication history! This format is new to us, and we hope that it serves our readers in a better way than our previous newsprint format did. We hope that, you, our readers will continue to pick up copies of the Herald, which will have two more editions this fall, and keep up with our daily newsletter - which has essentially become our new front page. Trying something new sometimes brings along growing pains. If there is anything we aren’t covering, a campus issue that warrants a closer look, or if readers want to submit ideas, please don’t hesitate to contact us at herald. editor@wku.edu or make a submission at wkuherald.com/submissions/. If you’re interested in working with us, we are always accepting students to create amazing work. We have positions for news reporters, photographers, commentary writers, graphic

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Debra Murray

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THE MAN IN THE SEAT FIVE YEARS OF PRESIDENT CABONI By Debra Murray and Jake Moore A lot can happen in five years. Timothy Caboni’s first five years as president on the Hill proves this to be true. To name just a few events, Caboni’s administration was tasked with patching up a massive budget shortfall, navigating a worldwide pandemic and dealing with the fallout of a tornado passing directly next to campus. WKU itself underwent large-scale physical change during Caboni’s first five years. Barnes Campbell and Bemis Lawrence halls were demolished and the First Year Village now stands in their place. Garrett Conference Center and Tate Page Hall were torn down for future developments and the Commons at Helm Library was officially opened in the spring. It seemed appropriate to take a look back on the president’s tenure, from 2017 to now, to see how the job has changed Caboni, give younger Hilltoppers a look into their university’s past and to provide a breakdown of the administration up to this point.

GROWING PAINS

inside, unless you're the person in the seat, you don't really understand it.” Caboni enjoyed the public affairs work, but his position was disconnected from students. The presidency at WKU put him in closer contact with the student body. “That was the amazing thing about re-entering [WKU] five years ago, coming back to a university where I was in 1994 when I graduated - it was the same depth of caring, of support and relationships that existed then,” Caboni said. It's one of the things I love about being here. It takes forever to walk from [the president’s office], down to DSU, to eat lunch at Fresh, because people stop you along the way. And they stop you along the way to get back to the office.” Despite returning to familiar ground in the place he earned his master’s, the first year on the job wasn’t easy.

Caboni and his wife, Kacy, came to Bowling Green from the University of Kansas, where he had served as the vice chancellor for public affairs. His office at Kansas was right next to that of former chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who offered Caboni glimpses of what running a university entailed. “She would open up the ‘black box’ and let me peer inside and see what really happened,” Caboni said. “And even though she helped me look

JACK DOBBS HERALD ARCHIVES

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“In the first year, Kacy and I would joke that it felt like Groundhog Day sometimes. That I would shut my eyes and then do it again, like, ‘did I sleep?’ It didn't feel like it,” Caboni said. One of the things the administration first took on was a $40.8 million budget shortfall, which resulted in a set of layoffs. “When you walk into the budget challenge that we had in the inaugural year I was here, the first year I was involved - just heart wrenching decisions, the worst decisions of my professional career and life, that essentially were mine,” Caboni said. “That affected the lives and the livelihood of 182 people. Those were awful, sleepless nights. There were times when it felt like I hadn't slept in a week. But at the same time, that's your responsibility.” As president, no matter how much advice or input one receives, “At the end of the day, it's your decision,” Caboni said. “It's my decision. But also, I'm the one who has to answer for it, even if it was somebody else's recommendation.” The job creates pressure, weight and stress, but for Caboni, “It's what's fun, too. I prepared for, essentially a lifetime, but professionally for over 20 years to be able to do this job. And you want those decisions, right?” Caboni said some of the most important learning he’s had in the position was


in how he managed those who reported directly to him. A self described “hands-off manager,” he now knows he has an obligation to step in if a catastrophe is on the way. “If someone is making a mistake, and I'm as certain as I can be that they're making the wrong call, and it's going to be a big decision - instead of allowing them to make that decision, if they're driving toward a cliff, I need to grab the wheel and yank it,” Caboni said. Kirk Atkinson, a professor in the Gordon Ford College of Business and former chair of WKU’s faculty senate, confirmed this kind of management approach. “He does not like to micromanage, he likes to delegate. That sort of comes with advantages and pitfalls,” Atkinson said. Atkinson recalled that he gave Caboni similar advice about taking the wheel in times of crisis during the resignation of former Provost Terry Ballman. Ballman was appointed by Caboni in 2018. In the spring of 2019, a faculty senate meeting was called following the sudden resignation of Larry Snyder, former dean of the Potter College of Arts and Letters. Snyder had been forced out by Ballman, prompting campus-wide outrage. The faculty senate approved a no-confidence resolution in Ballman by a 50-10 vote, and she resigned from her post. “When I was senate chair, and we had the issue with Provost Ballman [those were] almost my exact words to him,” Atkinson said. “Sometimes you can delegate. But sometimes you also need to be able to steer the ship a little bit, and give advice to those people you're delegating to…it's one of those things, especially when you have a relatively new group and your leadership team - sometimes you just have to do that.”

ALL THAT GLITTERS…

Five years of the presidency has taken a physical toll on Caboni. “If you look at photographs, I literally look 10 years older than I did five years ago,” Caboni said. “Now, in some ways, that's okay. I was accustomed to being the youngest looking person

most of my career - unfortunately, I think that is now over. I'm pretty much a white-haired old guy now.” As president, Caboni said he has had to make major sacrifices in two main areas. “You make sacrifices, particularly at the outset, that are around your time and decisions about how you allocate your time,” Caboni said. “My diet was probably not the healthiest in the first couple of years - I’m from New Orleans, so I love food.” Because of the time commitment required for the job, it became harder to fit exercise into his schedule. “You don't exercise as much as you should. You don't eat as well as you should. But there comes a point where you need to also be an example for the community,” Caboni said. “In the past couple of years, the pandemic created opportunities for more healthy behaviors I think, so I think my diet has gotten better, my exercise has gotten better.” Caboni said he’s “not very good” at keeping a work-life balance, but he does have a pair of activities he uses to separate work from home. “I've got a bicycle trainer, and I've tried to work out on that as many times a week as I can,” Caboni said. “I'll try and do that, that's good for me physically, but it's also good for me mentally because you just let everything go and focus on Spotify or whatever's going on in your ear, working out and sweating it out.” He keeps his connection to his hometown alive by cooking up cajun staples when he has the time. “I love to cook. For better or for worse, I love to cook. I love to cook food from home,” Caboni said. “If you ever meet somebody from New Orleans, the thing they will tell you they're always homesick for is food… I will cook crawfish etouffee, or gumbo, or whatever else it is I feel like cooking and that, for me, is relaxation.” Caboni said it's a good thing that his cooking is coupled

HERALD ARCHIVES

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with exercise. “I’m hoping they cancel each other out,” he said. Caboni said at some point, you adapt to the stress, “take better care of yourself, which I think I do now, and you have experience on which you can rely that you didn't have when you started.” The position isn’t always glitz and glamor. Caboni offered a warning for those who point their careers toward a university presidency. “If you're doing it because you think it's glamorous, that's the wrong reason to do the job,” Caboni said. “I think that younger folks, or people who are not near the position or [who] don't have familiarity, sometimes see it that way. It’s not all public speeches and dinners and rubbing elbows with whomever you rub elbows with, or having nice seats at theater events and concerts.” Caboni said that if those things are considered work, “it's wonderful work, seeing what our students create and being able to celebrate them,” but oftentimes those privileges can only be enjoyed after “a long day of meetings.” “When you haven't slept very much, and you have to drive or fly somewhere, and you're staying at an airport motel in advance of a day's worth of work, and you're just exhausted, but you have 12 more hours to go and you have to be positive, excited, ‘on’, engaging - it physically can hurt,” Caboni said.

DEFINING MOMENTS

Before his time at Kansas, Caboni served as a professor and later an associate dean at Vanderbilt University.


He said while he loved the work, “at the same time, many of those students had grown up with a level of privilege that I couldn't even comprehend.” At WKU, Caboni asked himself: “How can I help young people who otherwise might have not had a chance to [attend college]? How can I help them? How can we help them have that opportunity?” In September 2020, Caboni announced the start of the Hilltopper Guarantee, which covers 100% of tuition for Kentucky freshmen receiving Pell Grant assistance with at least a 3.0 grade point average. Guy Jordan, associate professor of art history at WKU, said the Hilltopper Guarantee is “not just something that I think should be on the list of [Caboni’s] accomplishments, but I think that should be at the top of the list… that's the most significant, good thing that's happened on this campus since I started working here 15 years ago.” Jordan said the Hilltopper Guarantee is at the core of what WKU is as an institution and it “makes me proud to teach here.” Todd Stewart, WKU’s athletic director, said Caboni’s leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic stuck out as a defining moment of his presidency. “There was no blueprint for anyone to follow with the onset of COVID-19 in the spring of 2020. We all had to adapt and adjust to the changing dynamics and landscape, and there were count

less unknowns and uncertainties,” Stewart said via email. “When strong leadership was needed more than ever, Caboni rose to the occasion by confidently inspiring others that we could move forward. His steady guidance throughout COVID-19 set the tone for our university to safely and successfully manage through that unprecedented time.” Caboni said he looked back at how institutions handled the 1918 influenza pandemic when searching for guidance in 2020. “That was helpful at how we navigated, but also just gave me some solace that you can get through this, it's possible,” Caboni said. “Even though there were days when we just didn't know what was going to happen.”

SHOULDER TO LEAN ON

As president, Caboni looks for guidance from outside the university. “You'll notice I'm using folks outside of the institution - that's for a very specific reason,” Caboni said. “Because that creates real objectivity. Most of them have no connection to Bowling Green or WKU. They have long experience in higher education [but] they're not politically connected to the place. “ Going back to his roots, Caboni seeks advice from figures he met during his time at the University of Kansas. “I've stayed in contact with the current chancellor at Kansas, Doug Girod,”

Caboni said. “He and I have shared things, particularly pre-pandemic, along the way.” Girod said he has been able to speak with Caboni about all facets of higher education. “Higher education is a close-knit community of practitioners who constantly exchange ideas — and that’s true of me and President Caboni,” Girod said via email. “[...] in addition to he and I chatting when we can, I know members of my office and members of President Caboni’s team stay in touch and trade ideas.” Caboni also stays in touch with Eli Capilouto, president of the University of Kentucky. “Eli has said that if we were in grade school together, we likely would have been separated very quickly,” Caboni said. “We've visited several times, and the conversations have been ones that you can only have between university presidents.” Caboni said it’s “good to have a strong relationship” between the presidents of WKU and UK. Caboni has also had the chance to provide guidance of his own, namely to David Cook, the newest president of North Dakota State University. “One of the things that [Caboni] kind of taught me was, you don't really know what you're getting into until you're in it,” Cook said. “You better be in it 110% because it's a lot. It's an all day, every day kind of job. You better believe in it and believe in what you're doing.” Cook said Caboni is someone he will go to for help as he navigates the first year of his term. “I might have a question or two I want to ask him, so you can say I'm still looking to him to get some advice,” Cook said. “He will be a phone call I will make some time very soon about a few things.”

MISCONCEPTIONS

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When asked what he wished more people understood about the position of university president, Caboni immediately shared that he doesn’t read social media. “I think our world in many ways has become toxic,” Caboni said. “Social media enables that toxicity to enter into our conversations. As an institution I


hope we model civility, even in disagreement. And I try my best to be able to do that.” Caboni said the effects of social media are something he notices negatively impacts other people - so he chooses to avoid it. “They can say whatever they want to say about

HERALD ARCHIVES

me, but people who are close to me, Kacy, folks who work with me every day and actually know who I am, I think it's painful for them,” Caboni said. Comments about decisions can be hurtful, but at the same time, Caboni understands it comes with the territory. “It is hurtful to me, some of what has been said, about decisions that people disagree with. Okay, you can disagree with me, but to demonize me as a person? That’s painful,” Caboni said. “[At the] same time, it goes with the job, right? And it's the world we live in.” Caboni also tries to maintain a positive outlook, sometimes annoying Kacy in the process. “I also say this: suck it up, and do the job. And at the end of the day, that's the focus, right? I wake up in the morning literally

singing songs, you can ask Kacy. It annoys the living daylights out of her,” Caboni said. “...I wake up excited about the prospect of coming to work and changing the trajectory of young people's lives.” Caboni said everything else is noise and a distraction. “If you allow that to change you, to change the decision, or to distract you from the job, then you will not be successful,” Caboni said. “And so I don’t.” Caboni also said there is no one person behind the university’s decisions. “I think the other other thing that I wish people knew is that we make decisions intentionally with data, and there are lots of folks involved,” Caboni said. “There is no ‘person behind the curtain’ who's pulling levers. This is truly a team effort.”

ADMINISTRATIVE CHANGES

During Caboni’s time at WKU, he has built a leadership team he feels is student oriented. “Over five years is a transformation of the university's leadership team,” Caboni said. “There are many people, if not most of the people on the cabinet

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and who are academic leaders on this campus, who are new. And that’s for a really particular reason: they have to buy into students being at the center of everything we do.” Cook said one of the lessons Caboni imparted to him was to assemble a strong team at the outset of his presidency. “You’re kind of going into battle or war, you’ve got to have the right team leading and helping you and smart, talented leaders surround themselves with really good people,” Cook said. “I know that’s one of the things he said very clearly upfront… you’ve got to make some tough decisions early. You’ve got to want to have your team helping lead the way.” Caboni said being president is not about himself, but about what is best for the students. “I love students, and anybody who knows me knows that. At the end of the day, that’s why we’re here,” Caboni said. “Just keep focusing on that and not the other nonsense.” Several faculty members chimed in on Caboni’s student oriented leader-

ship. Susan Howarth, executive vice president for strategy, operations and finance, said she believed students were Caboni’s biggest motivation. “Without a doubt – and I’ve worked for a number of presidents over my career, been in higher education for 33 years – [he] is student centric,” Haworth said. “It’s not about President Caboni, it’s about you guys [the students]. And what he and we do to help mold a person and a student into being successful. And that’s what motivates him day-in and day-out.” The university’s strategic plan sits on Caboni’s coffee table in his office because it “drives everything that we do, and it sits there because it's a reminder to me every day that that's what matters,” Caboni said. Tania Basta, dean of the College of Health and Human Services, said she applied for her position because of the strategic plan and its “vision for WKU.” “I am a community-engaged researcher, so I wanted to be at an institution that valued community engagement as a priority,” Basta said via email.

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“Since it was explicitly mentioned in the strategic plan, I felt that it was truly important to President Caboni and the university community.” Ethan Logan, vice president of enrollment and student experience, said Caboni was one of the reasons he came to WKU. “I was intrigued by his position, his vision for [where] the institution, under his leadership, was going to be going,” Logan said. “And the second thing about it is that he has a strong background in higher education… I've been very, very excited and pleased to be a part of his administration because I think that he has a very solid grasp of the institution and higher education in America today.” Phillip Bale, chair of the Board of Regents, said one of Caboni’s significant accomplishments has been putting people into his administration who align with the university’s strategic plan. “One of the most important things is that he's been able to assemble his own administrative cabinet, deans and provost that now share his vision and

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ing for me and for individuals in the community.”

LEGACY

Caboni said he hasn’t given thought to how his time at WKU will ultimately be remembered. “If you start thinking about legacy, you're dead in the water,” Caboni said. “I'm worried about every day, how do we take care of our students. If it starts being about you, then it's time to stop.” For the next leg of his presidency, Caboni has one simple hope. “Let’s hope the second five years are not as tumultuous as the first five.” Co-Editor-in-Chief Debra Murray can be reached at debra.murray940@ topper.wku.edu. Follow her on Twitter @debramurrayy Co-Editor-In-Chief Jake Moore can be reached at charles.moore275@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @ Charles_JMoore.

HERALD ARCHIVES vost that now share his vision and commitment to our strategic plan,” Bale said. “So I think that's been very important for the successes that we're going to see in the future.” Molly Kerby, assistant provost for institutional effectiveness, shared that Caboni has had the most challenging presidency she has seen during her time at WKU. “He gets out in the community. He runs up and down the hill. He shakes hands with students and he's just extremely energetic,” Kerby said. “And he’s determined. There's another way to look at it too. Because I mean, with all these things that came at him - he just kept on sliding through.” When asked if there was anything Kerby thought she would have handled differently if she was in Caboni's position, she replied, “I do that every day with every position.” She also said Caboni has been extremely supportive of diversity, equity and inclusion and that prior to his presidency, there was no DEI budget. Martha Sales, dean of students, said she felt Caboni’s presidency

brought more student-centered programming to the university. “President Caboni is very student centered,” Sales said.”That means a lot to me as the dean of students.” Sales is also involved with the Intercultural Student Engagement Center, which she said Caboni has helped improve during his term. “He’s assisted the university with our underrepresented minority recruitment, retention and graduation,” Sales said. “Those things have been defin-

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BY THE NUMBERS IMPORTANT FIGURES FROM CABONI’S FIRST FIVE YEARS WKU’S BUDGET SHORTFALL

FIRST YEAR FALL-TO-SPRING RETENTION

86.3%

90.9%

2017

2021

$40.8 million

$18.4 million

FY 2018

LIVING LEARNING COMMUNITIES FALL-TO-SPRING RETENTION

FY 2023

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS FALL 2017: 832

95.2% 2021-2022

FALL 2021: 192

WKU’S TOTAL ENROLLMENT 2012-2021 DATA FROM 2022 WKU FACT BOOK

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Aug. 3, 2018

May 1, 2018

Terry Ballman is named provost

WKU’s ten year strategic plan, known as “Climbing to Greater Heights,” is approved by the Board of Regents, going into effect as the university’s road map for future expansion

HERALD ARCHIVES

July 1, 2017

Caboni begins his presidency

2017 Feb. 23, 2018

The Budget Stabilization Plan is presented to the Board of Regents. Created to address a $40.8 million shortfall, the plan included the elimination of the University College, the return of regional campus management to the Division of Extended Learning and Outreach and a wave of layoffs

CHRIS KOHLEY/HERALD ARCHIVES

2018

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April 27, 2018

Caboni announces plans for the Commons at Helm Library, the First Year Village and the Innovation Campus at his investiture

SILAS WALKER/HERALD ARCHIVES

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April 5, 2019

Ballman resigns after a vote of no confidence stemming from the sudden resignation of dean Larry Snyder. Cheryl Stevens becomes acting provost until her retirement


April 18, 2022

July 1, 2021

The Commons at Helm Library officially opens after delays brought on by supply chain issues

Bud Fischer becomes provost

Sept. 17, 2020

The Hilltopper Guarantee is announced, providing 100% tuition for Kentucky first-year students with a 3.0 GPA or better that receive Pell Grant assistance

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2020

MARSHALL CANUPP

Feb. 23, 2022

First Year Village dedicated

2021

2022 July 29, 2022

March 23, 2020

March 31, 2022

In-person classes are suspended for COVID-19

The Kentucky General Assembly passes its 202224 budget, including $74.4 million in funding for a new Gordon Ford College of Business building

Dec. 11, 2021

JACK DOBBS/HERALD ARCHIVES

Bowling Green is hit by early morning tornadoes, including an EF3 that narrowly misses campus

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April 21, 2022

Hearing for Jeanine Huss, tenured professor. Caboni made the recommendation that Huss be dismissed for cause, regents vote 8-0 not to dismiss

Former general counsel and Title IX coordinator Deborah Wilkins sues WKU for age discrimination, breach of contract, fraud


‘THIS IS THE LAST OF IT’

TUCKER COVEY

ARABIC STUDENTS GRAPPLE WITH SUSPENSION OF PROGRAM

By Alexandria Anderson WKU officially suspended its Arabic program, one of three language majors that remained at the university, at its third quarterly Board of Regents meeting in August. According to the meeting agenda, the suspension decision was ultimately made following the retirement of Arabic professor David DiMeo in March, the transfer of professor Lhousseine Guerwane to Purdue University soon after and a drop in enrollment for the program. The decision left current students to finish their coursework through an in-person class taught by a Fulbright Assistant, Zoom classes and online asynchronous courses. Students in the program are still able to complete their degree, but some have decided against it due to the difficulty of limited programming. “They said, ‘oh, don't worry, the pro-

gram will still continue. It's just going to be extremely limited,” Abby Daly, a junior finance major who left the program after hearing of the suspension, said. “I was like, ‘there's no way this was going to work out for me.” Daly, who was a year and a half into the program, realized she was unable to combine the specifically scheduled Arabic courses with the course load of her finance major and chose to withdraw from her spring semester Arabic course. “I felt it was more conducive to my time to take the ‘W’ and focus on my other courses on top of my job, because that would be stress for a course that ultimately wouldn't count towards anything,” Daly said. Reece Gillespie, a fourth year Arabic, international business and Chinese Flagship major, loved the community building opportunities the program offered when he first joined.

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“I think in the first semester is when I really met everyone, like the faculty and students," Gillespie said. "We had all these cool events going on. There would be two or three get-togethers of just everyone making food, and as a whole everyone was vibing.” Gillespie saw the possibility for the major’s suspension when many community events ceased after the COVID-19 pandemic, despite still having Arabic Club and other department events. Following DiMeo’s retirement, students saw the writing on the wall. “Whenever it did actually happen, and we realized what was going on, that there would be no major or minor for future students, I'd say I felt disappointed,” Gillespie said. “Some people I know probably felt a little angry, too.” When learning a language, students grow into the culture and build a personal connection by speaking that lan-


guage. Daly said the Arabic major’s suspension not only affected her college career, but affected her personally. “What was really cool about it for me was that Arabic cultures and Middle Eastern cultures are very negatively portrayed in American media and American culture,” Daly said. “It was nice to learn more about a culture that I had never gotten to see in a positive light, especially growing up in a state like Kentucky.” The four Arabic courses this year – except Intermediate Arabic I – will be taught online. Gillespie is taking an online course that was the only one to fit his schedule, choosing between Arabic courses that were only available at specific times. “It definitely won't be the same,” Gillespie said. “I think they're trying to accommodate us. I don't want to say the best that they can, because I feel like there could have been more done. But we're getting classes and it's like a ‘now or never’ type thing [...] I'm still excited, because there's a new teacher and a new Fulbright [assistant], but I just know that, at the same time, there's a little bit of, ‘this is the last of it’.” The U.S. Department of State classi-

fies Arabic as a category IV “super-hard language” for English speakers to learn. Gillespie said language learning is a subject not compatible with the online format. “It's not what anyone wanted, especially after going through it once,” Gillespie said. “But at the same time, we're used to it now. For language, it's really critical that you use output and input. I feel like you're just losing out on the output part, whenever it's online […] It does suck, but like I said, we're used to it.” Meghan Pierce, a junior Arabic and international affairs major, was able to complete the requirements for her Arabic degree last spring and studied abroad in Jordan this past summer. Despite this, Pierce still experienced the uncertainty of the major’s future. “I remember the last month, especially in the last two weeks, I felt like there was such a tonal dissonance between how the school was presenting how they cared about the Arabic program versus what they were actually doing,” Pierce said. “I remember having that display from the Qatar Foundation in the Honors College and actually having representatives from it

come, and it being a celebration about the university’s commitment to Arabic and our ties with promoting education to the Middle East. Then, three weeks later, they inform people that they're cutting the program. It was just very difficult and made a lot of people and a lot of students in the program upset.” DiMeo said while difficult, students completing their degrees online was “the only option that was there, really.” “I know Dr. [Alexander] Poole looked at all the options, and it was probably very difficult to even get that,” DiMeo said.“Obviously, no one could compare online language instruction with in person. With some subjects, you could, but obviously, with language, you can't [...] but I would stress that I know it's the best option the university has available, so I don't fault them for that.” When the suspension ultimately came, DiMeo said it was not a surprise. “This was obviously what was going to happen,” DiMeo said. “We were told in pretty strong terms, not to share that with students, not to cause a panic, which I think was a bad and probably unconscionable decision, but that's what we did.” Terrance Brown, dean of Potter

Arabic work from the now-defunct Arabic major at WKU in Bowling Green, Ky. on Sunday, Aug. 28.

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ENROLLMENT IN ARABIC PROGRAM AT WKU

College of Arts and Letters was approached for a statement regarding

DiMeo’s comment. “I cannot comment on the context of Dr. DiMeo’s quote as I was not present for the interview nor know the context of the discussion," Brown said. "We had to pivot quickly to determine the future of Arabic and its role in the university due to the sudden loss of its primary instructors. The plan is to teach out the remaining students in the bachelor’s program pending approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Students currently enrolled in the program will be able to complete their degree program.” DiMeo commended those that were able to continue the program, and he believes that even under new circumstances, they will succeed. “It's part of their life, and that's part of it,” DiMeo said. “What I would say is even from the point that the announcement was made last semester, we've seen the numbers drop off sharply. I do know that everyone who has remained in the program are all people who put in a lot of time, a lot of effort outside of class; they always did. I'm not worried about them.” For DiMeo, one of the main concerns of

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43 33 29 19 14

*CONFIRMED BY ALEXANDER POOLE

the suspension is for those who are using a language major as a way to increase competitiveness for other career fields. “Where it really hits is people for whom this is a value added,” DiMeo said. “Say you're international business, you’re international affairs, journalism. You're not going to go pursue an Arabic major for that, but having that as an additional skill broadens your value and makes you a much more appealing candidate, and now they're going to lose that.” The 14 remaining Arabic majors will

16

progress past the implications of the major’s suspension, and DiMeo said the real concern lies in future students that no longer have the same opportunity. “They're going to have all the skills they need to succeed,” DiMeo said.“Those people, I don't feel like they're in danger - It's just the future generations who just won't get the opportunity, which is unfortunate.” Content editor Alexandria Anderson can be reached at alexandria.anderson337@ topper.wku.edu.


TUCKER COVEY

Abby Daly poses for a portrait in the Herald studio on WKU’s campus in Bowling Green, Ky. on Sunday, Aug. 28. Daly was a finance and Arabic language double major. Due to the program going under, she dropped the Arabic major during the spring 2022 semester.

The Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs invites the campus community to submit

Nominations for Recipients of Honorary Degrees Nominations should be directed, in letter form or email, to Academic Affairs (academic.affairs@wku.edu). Nominations may be made by students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni, or friends of the University. wku.edu/policies/docs/index.php?policy=363

Nomination Deadline is Tuesday, September 10th.

17



‘I JUST THOUGHT THIS WAS

DIVINE INTERVENTION’

HARBAUGH REFLECTS 20 YEARS AFTER TITLE

By Wyatt Sparkman Twenty years ago on a cold December night in Chattanooga, 57 seconds remained on Finley Stadium’s scoreboard. McNeese State quarterback Ryan Corcoran lined up in the gun with two running backs on either side, trying to make something happen against the WKU defense. Corcoran was facing a 34-14 deficit in the Division I-AA Championship Game, the biggest stage either program could hope to reach. With the ball snapped, Corcoran took a five-step drop before firing a pass over the middle of the field to his receiver. Charles Thompson, dressed in Hilltopper red and white, undercut the throw, sealing a WKU title. The crowd of WKU faithful that had made the trip with their team exploded with joy. Players and coaches on the Hilltoppers’ sideline could finally let out a sigh of relief. Head coach Jack Harbaugh, dressed in his red quarter zip with a WKU logo emblazoned on his left breast, khakis and a red baseball cap, grinned from ear-to-ear as he reached out to hug one of his players. In that moment, he had reached the mountaintop - only three hours away from the city where he resurrected a dying football program.

house every day in the summer to play eight hours of baseball and kick the can when the sun went down,” Harbaugh said. He calls his old friends “the sandlot” after the 1993 movie of the same name because of how similar the movie was to his childhood. All of the sandlot kids grew up wanting to be like Merle Hutson. Hutson played football for the short-lived Cleveland Indians in 1931 before coaching football and basketball at Crestline High School. “We just became sports buffs,” Harbaugh said. “We just became sports enthusiasts by wanting to play.” That love of sports carried into college at Bowling Green University in Ohio.

Harbaugh was recruited as a quarterback - but back in 1957, if you played quarterback, you had to play safety on defense, too. Harbaugh came up with three interceptions in a blowout win against No. 1 Delaware late in his junior year. That win propelled Bowling Green to its first undefeated season and the 1959 Small College National Championship. After his senior season, he was selected by the

THE MAN

Harbaugh’s love of sports began as a kid in the small village of Crestline, Ohio, in post-war America. “We had about 12 or 13 guys who would meet at the south side school-

PHOTO PROVIDED BY WKU ATHLETICS

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Buffalo Bills in the 25th round of the 1961 American Football League draft. His professional stint didn’t last long Harbaugh was soon cut from the Bills and his playing career ended. “I went there and I couldn't run fast enough, I didn't have the skills to be a defensive back at the professional level,” Harbaugh said. Harbaugh’s time at Bowling Green wasn’t for nothing. It put him in touch with his next idol and the man that would spur him down the coaching path - head coach Doyt Perry. “Doyt Perry was my Merle Hutson in college for four years,” Harbaugh said. “Everything that I believed in as a coach down the line came from Doyt Perry. The way he coached, the philosophy of coaching, everything about coaching, it drove from my experience with Doyt Perry.” Perry called film “pictures” and his players called him by his first name. In Harbaugh’s words, he was “outside the box” and didn't look much like a football coach. Perry never raised his voice, but when he talked, it resonated with his players. “You'd be standing there figuring, ‘what the hell did he just tell me?’ and then you realize he was telling me that I control how good I was going to be,” Harbaugh said. “If I want to be good, I could be good.”

THE COACH

Following his exit from the pros, a former Bowling Green teammate told Harbaugh about a job opportunity in junior high coaching. He began coaching seventh and eighth graders at Canton McKinley High School. “I can honestly say that the greatest experience I had in coaching was that first year coaching junior high school football,” Harbaugh said. The experience taught him that teaching and coaching are synonymous terms. “[If] you're a good teacher, you got a chance to be a good coach,” Harbaugh said. “If you're a coach, you have to have been, or will be at some point, a teacher.” Following his junior high coaching stint, Harbaugh got the call to coach at Bowling Green for three years before getting his big break at the University of Iowa for another two as defensive backs coach. Harbaugh received a call during a 1973 recruiting trip. On the other end of the phone was Bo Schembechler, the head coach of the

University of Michigan. He was looking for a new secondary coach because two of his staff members had left for Arizona. Perry, from Harbaugh’s Bowling Green days, had recommended him for the job. “Every job I got after I left Bowling Green, Doyt had something to do with it,” Harbaugh said. “He called somebody, he knew somebody and he recommended me. He recommended me to Michigan to Bo, which is the highest tribute or compliment he can pay you because he wasn't going to send Bo somebody that he didn't think could coach.” Harbaugh went to Ann Arbor, Mich., the next day. He and Schembechler talked for two hours about family, Bowling Green and Perry. Four days later, he called Harbaugh back and officially offered him the job. “It took me about three seconds to say ‘yes,’” Harbaugh said.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY WKU ATHLETICS

20


PHOTO PROVIDED BY WKU ATHLETICS

THE FATHER

The life of a football coach is not sedentary. The constant moving around can take a toll on a family, one that Harbaugh began back in college. On the first day of Perry’s class at Bowling Green, Perry said there were three things you need to be a great coach: you have to have passion for the game, you have to outwork everyone you compete against and you need to marry wisely. In the next day’s class, Harbaugh ran into a Bowling Green cheerleader named Jackie. The November after they graduated they were wed, and in 2021, they celebrated 60 years of marriage. “At one point in time, we came to the agreement that she was going to be the head football coach of our family, and I was going to be the assistant coach, and I was going to do everything I could to assist her as the head coach,” Harbaugh said. “And she put together a team. That’s unbelievable in my eyes. She put this team together and I'm proud to have assisted her in it.” Jack and Jackie started to grow their family a year into their marriage. They ended up having two boys, Jim and John, and a daughter, Joani. In order to climb up the coaching ranks, Jack had to leave the quiet home life behind and move with whatever team he was coaching. January was the best time to find a better career opportunity, which often meant moving during the school year. A lot of things fell on Jackie, whether it be finding a new school for the kids or getting the house ready for another move. “I look back on it, I think to myself: ‘what an injustice I’m putting on our shoulders,’ but she handled all that,” Jack said. The kids had to make new friends and fight for starting spots at new schools. Despite this, Jim and John remember this time fondly. “The moves were, for us, just a new adventure,” John said. “We were thrilled because it was a new great team, and we were going to go do these crazy great things. It was awesome for us.”

THE RISE/THE FALL

Jack coached at Michigan from 1973-79, but his time there came to an end due to the “coaching bug.” Most coaches moving up the ladder eventually become an offensive or defensive coordinator. Like Jack, most coaches who get the “bug” feel they aren’t moving up the ranks quickly enough and want to become a head coach. Jack accepted a defensive coordinator job at Stanford to try and speed up the process. It ended up being a mistake. “[I] moved my family across the country, and it was a little different,” Jack said. “It was a different culture out there. Football wise, I was there for two years, and they weren't as fulfilling for me as they could have been. I probably [should have stayed] right here in Michigan.” Jack got a chance to move back to Michigan in 1982, satisfying the “coaching bug” as the new head coach of the Western Michigan Broncos. His

21

first season went smoothly, finishing 7-2-2 on the year and in second place in the Mid-American Conference. The next four seasons didn’t go so well. Harbaugh’s win total dropped each time before landing on a 3-8 record in 1986, second to last in the conference. His head coaching record stood at 25-27-3 when he was fired from Western Michigan in 1986. “After five years, I got fired,” Jack said. “They were moving in a different direction.” The experience was humbling for him, while at the same time giving him his greatest career lesson. Jack forgot who he was at Western Michigan. He thought he needed to change his personality to be a head coach. “I realized that if I ever get another chance I'm going to try to rectify that problem,” Jack said. He was then hired at Pittsburgh by his sandlot friend Mike Gottfried in 1987. Jack was an assistant coach there before getting another chance as a head coach in 1989 down in Kentucky. “I thought I would never be a head


coach again,” Jack said. “You only get one crack at that, one bite at the apple, one crack at it, and I had failed. I felt that was it. And then after two years at Pittsburgh, the Western Kentucky job came along.” Another sandlot buddy, Joe Gottfried, knew WKU’s athletic director at the time, Jimmy Feix. Joe threw Jack’s name out and he got the job. “Walking into that job, I decided I'm going to be me,” Jack said. “I'm going to do it just being me and see how it all plays out.”

fiscal year. Jack knew that the team could be saved. With spring football around the corner, the decision was up to the players if they wanted to continue playing. They voted unanimously to do so. The program received a tremendous amount of support from alumni, former players and fans. “We used to get 2,000 people out to a scrimmage that spring…there was a public consensus that we should have football,” Jack said. By the end of April, one vote had changed in favor of the football program, allowing it to stick around. However, there was a massive hit to the Jack’s first few years on the Hill budget. Scholarships had to be taken didn’t go too well, putting together a away and the total of full-time coaching meek 11-21 record across three seastaff members dropped from six to four. sons. The Hilltoppers had to reschedule Jack’s situation at WKU took a turn games because teams had dropped for the worse in March 1992, when he them from their slates in the event that and Athletic Director Lou Marciani were called into President Thomas Mer- the program was dissolved. The team was also missing essential needs. edith’s office. They were given notice “My mom [Jackie] had to go buy that the Board of Regents was going to supplies for the shower,” John said. vote to cut the football program at the “She had to go buy soap, just like you end of April due to a state mandated $6.1 million budget cut for the 1992-93 would have bars of soap in the shower. She had to do the laundry, had to do the towels.” Jim helped WKU out thanks to a personal sponsorship. He had played quarterback at Michigan and was drafted in the first round of the 1987 NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. His brand deal with Fila provided uniforms for the Hilltoppers. WKU bounced back from the brink of elimination with a 4-6 reNow Available on Campus cord before turnLindsey Whiteman Brooks, M.D. ing in a 8-3 record for the 1993 Brian K. Macy, M.D. season. In 1994, the program's On campus at 1681 Normal St | Bowling Green, KY 42101 savior came to the Hill thanks to @GravesGilbert /GravesGilbert Jim. He found and www.gravesgilbert.com @GravesGilbert /GravesGilbertClinic recruited Manatee

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High School’s star quarterback, Willie Taggart, out of Florida. With Taggart under center, WKU finally turned the corner. Taggart started all four years, leading the Hilltoppers to their first 10-win season and playoff berth under Jack. In his time there, WKU went 26-18. Taggart left WKU with the most rushing yards by a quarterback in Division I history. Taggart came back to WKU in 1999 as a wide receivers coach and recruiter. “He was our ace recruiter,” Jack said. “Every good player we ever recruited [to WKU], Willie Taggart hosted him, and he handled the locker room. Everybody was in lockstep in the locker room. He was our leader.”

THE CHAMPION

WKU piled up winning records from 1996-2001 with three NCAA 1-AA playoff appearances. It was hard to believe the same program was on life support just a decade earlier. One of the leaders for the 2002 season was linebacker Sherrod Coates. He and Jack’s relationship started off a bit rocky. “I was just an arrogant high schooler coming out [on] top of my football team,” Coates said. In Coates' second year, Jack pulled him aside because he was getting cocky on the field. “He was like ‘listen, you’re stubborn and I’m stubborn’,” Coates said. “‘We both want the same exact thing, but you have to understand one thing: the only way you can get there is that you have to follow me. The guys will follow you anywhere you go, but you have to back me up, and we can win the national championship’.” In contrast to how the story ends, the 2002 season didn’t start the way the Hilltoppers hoped it would with a 2-3 record to start the campaign. Coates said the defensive players were worried too much about technique instead of just playing ball. The offense was switching players around, trying to find something that worked. Eventually, things started to click. The Hilltoppers won their next six games by an average margin of 25 points, and before they knew it, earned a berth in the postseason for the third consecutive year - by the skin of their


consecutive year - by the skin of their teeth. “We were playing as a 15 seed out of 16 teams,” Jack said. “We just barely got in.” WKU dominated Murray State in the first round of the playoffs before scraping by the next two contests against No. 2 Western Illinois and No. 3 Georgia Southern by three point margins. What awaited the Hilltoppers in the championship game was a date with No. 1 McNeese State, the same team that handed WKU its last loss of the season in blowout fashion, in front of 12,000 fans in Finley Stadium down in Chattanooga, Tenn. WKU got off to a roaring start, building a 17-6 lead at the half and never looking back. Jack’s team ignored recent history and got revenge with a convincing 34-14 win. After the game-sealing interception, Jack’s team took its rightful position in winning formation. Fifty-one seconds and two kneel downs later, the clock hit zero. Western Kentucky University had a champion. The players rushed to the hill behind the south end zone adorned with the words “1-AA Championship.” The student section stormed the field with some fans jumping on the goal post, forcing it to the ground as Jack was handed the D1-AA National Championship trophy, to this day the only one in the program’s trophy case. When Jack got off the bus to greet the abundance of fans waiting for their team at Houchens-Smith Stadium, he found himself in an introspective mood. “I got off the bus, and I thought to myself: 44 years. 44 years I’ve been a coach, started out as a junior high school coach, been fired, [been] here at Western for 14 years, and what it was is a very mediocre coaching career up until that point,” Jack said. “There was nothing spectacular about my coaching career whatsoever. And for all of that to come to that point, having been a part of a national championship team, I just thought this was divine intervention, somebody telling me something.” That divine intervention told him it was time to “get the hell out.” Jack

saw only two ways to end a coaching career where people will still appreciate your work: winning a national championship, or dying on the job. That night in Chattanooga was his last game as a head coach.

THE LEGEND Fast forward to 2022 and Jack is enjoying retirement with 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. They keep him busy with their own sports, reminding Jack of the times that his family would take long road trips together. “You never get old when you turn the dadgum radio off, turn your phone off, ride with your grandchildren and just listen and converse and share the stories,” Jack said. Both Jim and John followed in their dad’s footsteps to become football coaches. They loved the stories Jack brought home from his practices and would be in the locker rooms around the players forming friendships. Jack even invited his defensive backs over for dinner. Football was a way of life for them. “When we grew up, we couldn’t imagine anything possibly better than being a football coach,” Jim said. “I didn’t think that there was any job a father could be doing other than being a football coach, as a kid anyway. I thought my dad had the most fun and most exciting job there was.” John said he learned everything from his dad. Every principle, reaction, how he handled situations; it all came from Jack. “Everything comes back to what we learned from our dad, and what he learned from the Doyt Perry’s and the Bo Schembechler’s that were in his way,” John said. The brothers ultimately worked their way up to become NFL head coaches, Jim with the San Francisco 49ers and John with the Baltimore Ravens. They faced off in 2013 for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, the first time in NFL history that brothers coached against each other for the Lombardi Trophy. Even with the media attention surrounding the big game, Jack just saw his sons and thought back to when his boys played football together at

23

Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor. “For all those parents out there that ask that same question, ‘how did you feel when your two sons were competing in the Super Bowl?’ - the same way you felt when you watch your son or daughter compete in a junior high school competition, whether it be academics or athletics or anything else,”Jack said. The game was a rollercoaster. John’s Ravens had a two-score lead at the half before the power went out in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Jim’s 49ers clawed back in the game and had a chance to win it in the fourth quarter, but a goal line stand propelled the Ravens to a 34-31 Super Bowl victory. Jack was sitting with his family and long-time friend Bill “Doc” Edwards, who was the head athletic trainer during his time at WKU. Edwards told him that a parent can only be as happy as their unhappiest child. Before celebrating John’s triumph, Jack went back to the 49ers’ locker room to check on Jim. Reporter Wyatt Sparkman can be reached at steve.sparkman280@topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @ wyattsparkman3.

WKU’s 2002 football schedule: @ Kansas State: L 48-3 vs Kentucky State W 49-0 vs Western Illinois L 14-0 vs no. 11 Youngstown State W 13-7 @ no. 2 McNeese State L 38-13 @ no. 6 Northern Iowa W 31-12 vs Florida International W 56-7 @ Southwest Missouri State W 31-7 vs Indiana State W 24-7 vs Illinois State W 9-0 @ Southern Illinois W 48-16 vs no. 23 Murray State W 59-20 @ no. 3 Western Illinois W 31-28 @ no. 2 Georgia Southern W 31-28 Vs no. 1 McNeese State W 34-14


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