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UK Staff Trustee Blog > Posts > October 25-26 Board Retreat, Meeting  

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November 18
October 25-26 Board Retreat, Meeting

Hello, all. Here is your regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting update. You get an extra report this time – we had our annual retreat on Friday, prior to the actual meeting later on Saturday morning.


The agenda for the Board’s retreat on Friday, October 25 Board is here: The list of presentations, though, is here: (Below are specific links to each presentation.)


·         The Board was given a presentation on the 2014 – 2020 Strategic Plan; I offered a few suggestions about aspects to consider, with the goal of improving our workplace.


·         There was a presentation on research at UK.


·         The Campus Master Plan was presented to trustees.


·         The Board meeting on Saturday was very short and focused primarily on what was covered during the retreat on Friday, with a couple of exceptions.


2014-20 Strategic Plan


After an introductory presentation by President Eli Capilouto, we heard a presentation from Provost Christine Riordan on the planning process for UK’s next strategic plan (2014-2020). After the presentation, I asked what the administration wanted from trustees during the retreat; the Provost replied that they wanted like feedback into metrics that will guide the metrics involved in our next strategic plan. Trustees are not often asked to offer input into nitty-gritty details, but I’ll use whatever opportunity is presented to me. The 2014-20 Strategic Plan initiative that most interests me, as staff trustee, is initiative number five – “Create a Positive Work Environment for Faculty and Staff.” Below are general descriptions of the suggestions I offered.

·         Emphasize metrics based on outputs, not inputs.


o    I know many staff who are asked to document number of phone calls, or number of emails, etc., to demonstrate effectiveness. There are always exceptions, but I think UK should track outcomes, such as improved flexibility, problem solving or facilitating collaboration. Counting contacts does give a measure, but I’m fairly confident that UK assumes the phone calls and emails are supposed to produce something, and that something ought to be measured.


·         Emphasize communities on campus.


o    We are all part of various communities, some of them through the workplace. These communities tend to be centered around some commonality that other members of the community share – gender, skin color, philosophical or religious beliefs, activities we enjoy, etc. In addition to using “Diversity” when talking about a workplace environment, I think we should also use “community” to describe the smaller places where we may feel more comfortable. We have to make sure, though, that we welcome anyone in to our communities if they want to join; whether someone looks like they fit in a community or not is irrelevant. We usually benefit from exposure to something new and/or different.


·         Support Human Resources’ efforts to actively promote civility in the workplace.


o    No one wants to be treated rudely. We know who of our coworkers can be counted on to be courteous and polite to others. Being nice does not mean you must agree with everything, though. Nice people are perfectly capable of raising an objection, expressing a concern, or offering a solution; being nice just means offering your thoughts in an appropriate time and place, with an appropriate attitude. I think I’m usually nice to others, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from asking questions or offering suggestions!


·         Improve professional development for staff.


o    Some staff positions on campus are part of job families, which offer a simple process for promotion within the same unit. Others, though, must look for another job if they want to move up the chain of command or learn a new skill. It would be nice to develop more job families, whereby an employee can start at an initial level and after demonstrating significantly increased proficiency in their field, can advance to the next level; supervisory responsibilities would add an additional level for advancement. I recognize, though, that this type of system would work well for some positions, but not for others.


o    Supervisor should be rewarded for consistently developing their own employees. The end result of professional development is often an employee finding another position that takes advantage of the employee’s new skills. To me, professional development occurs when a supervisor encourages an employee to receive training in new areas, cross-training, support team-building exercises, etc. Right now, aside from the knowledge of knowing they’ve helped someone to succeed, supervisors who develop their employees don’t get much for all their hard work. Human Resources does sponsor a supervisor awards program, but I’d like to see an institutionalized culture that celebrates those who invest time and effort to help others realize their full employment potential.


·         Expand continuing education opportunities.


o    For some fields, staff need to stay abreast of changes in national standards, new processes and best practices. Other staff may need more basic opportunities to continue their education, like becoming more adept with a University process or system. We need to be sure that resources are available for staff to hone their expertise, as well as develop new skills. Furthermore, we need to ensure that employees have the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities.


Research at UK


Our staff and faculty are involved in incredibly diverse fields of research and I always enjoy learning about them. The presentation made it clear, too, that one academic field’s research is not better than another’s research. All sorts of research benefit us in a variety of ways, from research into cancer treatments and helping citizens of the Commonwealth overcome the scourge of substance abuse, to identifying unique ways of delivering operatic experiences and reducing emissions from coal-powered energy.


Campus Master Plan

( This is a huge file, so you may need to give a minute or two to open.)

The last item of business was the campus master plan. A lot of thought has been put into designing a plan for our physical campus. The plan involves the identification of various zones (academic, agricultural, etc.) on campus, as well as the robust use of natural landscaping to direct or better direct pedestrian traffic. The plan also calls for maintaining/growing green spaces around campus. My primary comment for this item pertained to accessibility. I referred to the accessibility of the outdoor gathering area between the new residence halls Central I and Central II, saying I liked the way that area used natural landscape to offer two types of access to the area (flat ground as well as stairs) without the need for “Handicapped Entrance Here” sign.


After the presentation, we took a bus tour of campus to see a couple of spots with regular traffic problems (yes, of course, Rose Street was a major focus!), see progress on residence hall construction projects, and get a general sense of the area around campus. I am here, on campus, all the time, but some trustees, particularly those from out of town, do not have many opportunities to see how campus is changing.


If you’d like to learn more about UK’s master plan, visit


After digesting so much information, we (at least I did) needed a chance to sleep on it and come back refreshed and ready to for additional discussion. We started Saturday morning with a wrap-up from President Capilouto and some final comments. He went over the six initiatives/goals comprising the 2014-20 Strategic Plan, which is sufficiently broad to encompass everything that UK does or should do.


·         Create a vibrant undergraduate learning community

·         Advance a high-quality graduate and professional education portfolio

·         Cultivate a robust research environment

·         Develop a strong and sustainable UK infrastructure

·         Create a positive work environment for faculty and staff

·         Have a meaningful impact on the community


Sometimes narrowly focused is good but I appreciate the broad scope of the initiatives, which will allow UK to make adjustments to the University’s direction as time progresses, yet remain within the confines of the plan.


Board Meeting, Saturday October 26

After the wrap-up, we took a brief, minutes-long break and then moved immediately to the formal meeting. The agenda for the October 26 Board meeting is here:


The meeting was very short – it was over by 10 am or so. We approved the proposed goals for the strategic plan, with one small edit: the last one was changed to read, “Have a meaningful impact on the community and the Commonwealth” with the term “community” being broadly defined (not limited to Fayette County or contiguous counties).


We approved the changes to Governing Regulations II about the Board’s Executive Committee (details in the blog post for the September 9 Board meeting) – it was the second and final reading.


Next we approved the seven principles for implementation of the campus master plan:


1. Academic Environment

2. Campus Life

3. Community

4. Growth

5. Mobility

6. Landscape Structure

7. Sustainability


Each principle has a paragraph of description that goes along with it – those can be found here: (, pages 2 - 3). We weren’t asked to approve any specific actions for the campus, like demolition or construction, but rather review the overarching principles that UK should adhere to when short- and long-term plans are being made for our physical campus.


In terms of routine business, we approved the awarding of two honorary degrees to two individuals with ties to Kentucky, Wilbert James and Michael Nietzel. Additionally, we approved via a second reading a change to Governing Regulations II regarding the composition of the Board’s Executive Committee. (Please see the September post for more details on that change.)


In keeping with the message from my last post about appreciating ourselves, please do something nice for a coworker or say “Hi!” to the person you always see in the hall, but have never spoken to. We are responsible for our culture on campus and when we do things to make this a better place to work, it pays off for everyone.


Thank you, everyone, for the opportunity to represent you on the Board of Trustees. Here comes the same message – if you want to chat with me about anything, anything at all, please get in touch. You can reach me via phone (859-257-5872) or via email ( /


The next Board meeting will be in mid-December.





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