Western Kentucky University officials announced Friday that the school will begin offering health insurance to qualifying dependents — including domestic partners — of its employees, starting next year.
WKU is the fourth public university in Kentucky to extend health benefits to its employees’ domestic partners in the past several years.
The three other institutions are the University of Louisville, University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University. U of L and UK began offering domestic-partner benefits to employees in 2007 and NKU in 2008.
Some private colleges, including Berea and Centre, also offer domestic-partner benefits to their employees.
Tony Glisson, WKU’s director of human resources, sent an e-mail to faculty and staff on Friday morning, announcing the school’s Employee Benefits Advisory Committee approved a motion to extend health coverage to qualifying “other dependents” who live with employees. The change would encompass same and opposite sex partners, Glisson said in an interview.
While UL, UK and NKU are located in the metropolitan areas of Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati respectively, Western graces Bowling Green, a small liberal enclave in the state's deeply conservative southern tier.
This is a Big Fucking Deal.
The four holdouts among Kentucky's eight state universities are now Murray in the far western corner next to Missouri (yes, THAT Murray), Eastern and Morehead in the eastern mountains, and Kentucky State in Frankfort.
I'll predict that Eastern will be next, if only because it has a longstanding rivalry with Western. Then Murray because of its new national profile and Morehead because it has an inferiority complex. Kentucky State will hold out the longest, refecting the deep social conservativism of the historically black college.
But it's inevitable now. If you want the best faculty and the top students, you've got to join the 21st century.