Good afternoon, colleagues. This is your regularly scheduled post-Board of Trustees meeting update. The full agenda for the meeting is here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/mar/welcome.html. There was a lot on the agenda, so this one is rather long. As always, if you have a question about agenda items (or anything else, for that matter) please don’t hesitate to contact me. The views and opinions expressed here are mine.
The Executive Committee met at 8 am. The agenda included changes to the Board’s committee structure, as outlined in Governing Regulations II (GR), as well as the upcoming Presidential Evaluation. The GR change involves consolidating four committees into two, as well as some other requirements. (The consolidations are the primary component of the changes.) As a result of a trustee’s suggestion, the Executive Committee will consider whether or not to recommend that the Board add language about institutional accountability and/or ethics to the Executive Committee description in GR II. I think adding such language is a good idea and I look forward to seeing some new language that can start to be vetted in May.
The next discussion pertained to the Executive Committee’s evaluation of the President (as per Governing Regulations II.E.2.a). The regulation requires input from the three student/faculty/staff representative bodies, but last year the Board voted to make the process far more inclusive than in the past. It seems we will primarily have the same process as last year, which involved input from 45 individual interviews. This year, Board members will offer their input to the Executive Committee after seeing input from the various constituencies. The idea is that we as Board members can do a better job of contributing to the Presidential Evaluation process if we better understand what various constituencies think. I like the process and that we also are discussing small tweaks; last year was the first year of the new process, so it only makes sense to review suggestions and see what should stay the same and what can be improved.
The next meeting was the University Relations Committee. The committee chair has spent this academic year focusing on various ways that UK reaches out to the community, particularly through marketing efforts. This time, we heard a presentation about WUKY and its history at UK; the radio station began broadcasting on the AM dial in the 1940s. The station engages in “guerilla marketing” – there are no monies set aside for a marketing budget, so they utilize community partnerships and programming collaborations to get the word out about the station and its shows. I was interested to learn about WUKY’s emphasis on diversity initiatives in the Lexington community. For more information about WUKY, you can visit their website: http://www.wuky.org/.
The Academic Affairs Committee meeting began at 9:30 am with discussion of action items. Then the committee chair asked for ideas about guest speakers in the future and how to continue gathering information for the soon-to-be Academic Affairs and Student Affairs Committee. The committee members strongly supported the suggestion of a “flipped classroom” approach to future meetings. This involves front-loading information to Committee/Board members so it can be processed prior to a face-to-face meeting. For example, if there is goal is to learn more about retention efforts, prior to the meeting we might be asked to read an article, watch a presentation, or examine a UK 101 syllabus. We could then spend the committee meeting having an informed discussion instead of trying to listen to a presentation, understand it, and then formulate intelligent, relevant questions. I had to leave halfway through for another committee meeting, but I left with an appreciation for the committee’s desire to experiment with ways to receive and process information.
The University Athletics Committee met at 10 am. We started out watching a video about a UK Hoops player, a junior, who has created a foundation to help disadvantaged youth with basketball drills in group settings. After the basketball practice, this student athlete sits on the gym floor with the children and talks about how honesty is important, or what kindness and character look like in a schoolyard setting. This is just one example of how our student athletes give back to the community. I am beginning to notice a pattern – some of our most successful students spend a lot of time serving in leadership positions and carefully managing their time.
Next we heard a report about academic and athletic achievement of UK’s student athletes over the past few months. Regarding academic accomplishments, many student-athletes from a variety of fall sports earned a GPA of 3.0 or above. I appreciate that Athletics commits significant time and attention to the importance of a strong academic focus. Almost all the fall sports teams (or individual players) had a historically high ranking, annually consecutive tournament appearances, and/or otherwise broke team records.
The next agenda item was a review of the interim financial statements for Athletics. According to the information presented, Athletics is in good financial shape. Now that the Athletics Association has been dissolved we will have current and past year comparative actual information beginning in FY 2013-14. The reported numbers make sense, though, given their respective explanations. There was also a graphical representation of the sources of athletic budget revenues for Division I colleges (includes UK).
The chart reflected information from 97 public institutions with football programs and what percentage of their revenue budget came from which area. The categories are “other” revenue, corporate sponsorship, donor contributions, guarantees, NCAA/conference distributions and television agreements, ticket sales, institutional/government support and student fees. If the areas of student fees and government/institutional support are combined for each institution, most colleges’ revenue budgets received between 4% - 61% from those two areas. UK, however, is an outlier on the very low end; less than 1% of the UK Athletics budget comes from student fees, with Athletics not receiving any institutional or government support. The majority of UK Athletics funding comes from ticket sales and NCAA/conference distributions and television agreements.
I had asked a month or so ago for information on how Athletics addresses concussions. The committee chair informed us that the report was ready and would be distributed to committee members and Board members in the next few days. I am looking forward to learning more about these types of policies and standards.
The Finance Committee had a big agenda; six of the items involved gifts to support the expansion and remodeling of the Gatton College Building and the Academic and Science Building. Generally, UK regulations require the Board to formally approve gifts of $400,000 or more. After those action items, the committee chair took a moment to thank the donors for their contributions. I was very happy to hear him continue to express appreciation for all the staff whose efforts facilitate such contributions, as well as those who work to ensure the committee has the information it needs. I regularly draw attention to how staff employees contribute to the University’s missions; it is wonderful to hear others do the same!
After lunch we moved back to the Boardroom for the main meeting. After a few minutes, the Board approved consent agenda items, which included Finance Committee recommendations. That was a good time to ask the Finance Committee chair if he would repeat for the full Board his comments about appreciating the efforts of staff. Recognition of a job well done is always appropriate. The Board moved on to approve the change in committee structure as well as three individuals to receive honorary degrees.
The meeting ended after a presentation and discussion on UK’s ongoing SACSCOC accreditation activities. SACSCOC is the acronym for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commissions on Colleges. As a part of the reaccreditation process, UK submitted a 450-page report to show how UK complies with 97 accreditation standards. When the SACSCOC team visits the Lexington campus in early April, the key focus will be UK’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), which is “Presentation U!” It is an initiative to develop and improve upper-division undergraduates’ oral, written and visual communication skills within the context of their major.
We adjourned about 3 pm.
It is often difficult to summarize all the informational sessions and committee meetings leading up to (and including) the Board meeting. (In fact, I think it may be time to start to shorten these posts because I am concerned they are getting too long for a quick read.) There is more to Board meetings than I can put into a blog post that remains a reasonably readable length. I seem never to have the space to talk about how each trustee absolutely has UK’s best interests at heart; all the different opinions make for some very lively discussions. Trustees are always eager to learn about the big UK facts, but we also are very interested in the stories that involve how a UK person works to change the world for someone else. We are all proud of the ways in which UK touches our community, our Commonwealth and the world.
Someone, somewhere, asked me if anyone is recycling the materials from demolished campus buildings. Since I can’t remember who asked or the context, I’ll answer the question here. According to the campus administrator I asked, the contractors are separating metals to salvage and/or recycle. The salvage values belong to the contractors, as they were factored into their competitive bids. In addition, the demolition contractor for the two Cooperstown structures has brought a crushing machine in to crush concrete into re-usable rock.
If you have any questions about Board meetings or any other UK thing, for that matter, please don’t hesitate to contact me. The most efficient way to reach me is via email - firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can also stop by my office in 203E Main Building. I am committed to having open lines of communication with staff and welcome suggestions for improvement. I look forward to serving you for the foreseeable future. As a final note, please consider shooting me a quick email to let me know if I should shorten these posts or leave them as is.