Good afternoon, everyone. This is the regular update I send out after Board meetings. This post includes my opinions on the January 28, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting. If you are so inclined, you can find the complete agenda (as well as supporting documentation) for the January 28 meeting here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/jan/welcome.html.
The day began at 8 am with a meeting of the University Relations Committee; we heard a presentation from Anthony Dotson, Coordinator/Director of the Veterans Resource Center. According to the information presented, the numbers of student veterans are growing and student veterans have high attrition rates. UK is working hard to offer a warm welcome to them as well as to address their unique needs. The Veterans Resource Center is also working to become one of a few universities nationwide which has a Veterans Affairs employee working on campus to assist student veterans. A lot of very good things come out of the small Veterans Resource Center in the Funkhouser Building! You can visit their website by clicking on this link: http://www.uky.edu/Veterans/.
The next meeting was the Student Affairs Committee. I was able to stay for the first couple of agenda items: a presentation on a proposed new student creed; and an overview of UK 101, an orientation course (not mandatory but strongly suggested) for freshmen, which includes students as peer instructors. The student creed was developed by a large committee comprised primarily of students, but which also includes staff and faculty. The proposed creed is short – I think it says a lot but with few words. The proposed new creed will be presented formally to the Board at its March meeting. The UK 101 update was also interesting. Our students learn a lot from UK 101 courses and it seems that as much as student peer instructors give to make UK 101 successful, they get even more out of the experience.
I left early to attend the last few minutes of the Academic Affairs Committee meeting, which began at the same time. It was the tail end of a discussion on student success, but it was nonetheless interesting. UK has brought a variety of student success initiatives under the auspices of one office, UK’s Student Success office. Our efforts to support students facing a variety of challenges range from college readiness, preparing “at-risk” students and expanded course delivery options (eLearning), to a peer-support network and a one-stop shop for student support where students can see the various helping hands that UK can offer to assist students inside and outside the classroom. Link to UK 101 website: http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/NewStudentPrograms/UK101/index.php.
University Athletics Committee was next – the primary agenda item was a presentation on student athlete academic success. UK’s student athletes are enrolled in a wide variety of colleges and programs and earn very good grades overall. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) gauges universities’ academic success based on an Academic Progress Rate, or APR. UK is one of only two schools in the Southeastern Conference Schools that have not been penalized since the APR system was established in 2004-2005.
The next two meetings, Audit Subcommittee and the Finance Committee, dealt with routine business. The Finance Committee offered information on timelines for UK’s proposed building projects (Gatton College of Business and Economics, Academic Science Building, and Commonwealth Stadium/Nutter Training Center). I appreciate all the time and effort expended by various individuals to facilitate these construction projects and that all three buildings will be LEED certified. In addition, these projects will bring in 300 local construction jobs, which does not include the additional economic boost felt by suppliers and others associated with the construction industry.
The full Board meeting took place at 1 pm. The vast majority of what I hear at Board meetings is interesting, but I’ll stick to just a couple items here. We heard a great presentation on UK’s Confucius Institute; it is just two years old, but in December was awarded the 2012 Confucius Institute of the Year. This prestigious award was granted to only 25 institutions worldwide. The Board also approved a variety of names for the new residence halls. All are vaguely descriptive of their location; the only one with a personal name is “Haggin Hall.” That will be the name of the building that replaces the existing Haggin Hall, to continue to honor the family of James P. Haggin. We also heard committee reports from the ones that met earlier in the morning.
The last item was an open discussion on online, or eLearning, education. (eLearning refers to education that is delivered or enhanced by some type of technology.) After a thorough presentation, trustees discussed the additional considerations required for eLearning as well as the effect of massively open online courses (MOOCs) on traditional course content delivery. There were no business items for this matter – it was an opportunity for Board members to discuss a topic that is currently trending in higher education.
Being your staff representative on the Board offers me educational experiences left and right. I enjoy opportunities to share with other trustees all the wonderful things that staff do. Perhaps more important are the occasions when I can offer trustees insights into the challenges we staff face every day when we sit down at our desk, stand at a patient’s bedside, crawl in the dirt or help a student navigate a tricky situation. We wear a lot of hats, and we do it very well!
It is an honor to serve each of you as your staff trustee. If you would like to reach me, you can reach me via email (firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com) or you can stop by my office in 202E Main Building.