Hello, everyone. Here is your regularly-scheduled, post-Board meeting blog post. If you would like to learn more about any particular agenda item, the full agenda and supporting documentation is posted here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/jun/welcome.html. As a general disclaimer, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own and do not capture the breadth and depth of issues that were discussed.
Prior to Monday’s Board of Trustees meeting was a day-long healthcare retreat on Monday. Attendees heard from a wide variety of UK HealthCare presenters, as well as a few guest speakers. It is my understanding that the information presented at the retreat will be available online at some point, so I’ll share that URL with you when it becomes available.
Quick highlights from Tuesday’s committee meetings and the full Board meeting:
· The Student Affairs Committee learned about Living Learning Programs and UK Core, and heard an update from the Student Government Association President.
· The University Athletics Committee went over financial statements and heard a departmental update.
· The University Relations Committee saw a presentation on the Cooperative Extension service and the myriad services offered to Kentucky’s citizenry.
· The Finance Committee received a large gift/pledge and approved maintenance projects, the fit out of the eighth floor of the Patient Care Facility, and the Capital Plan/Capital Request. The primary action was review (and approval) of the University’s 2013-14 Operating and Capital Budget.
· The Board meeting at 1 pm was largely routine, with perhaps the exception of our approving the appointment of our incoming provost, Dr. Christine Riordan.
· Information about free tickets to employees for UK’s Olympic sports is at the end of this blog.
The Audit Subcommittee and the Student Affairs Committee both met at 8 am – I opted for Student Affairs this time. We heard a presentation from the Office of Residence Life about UK’s Living-Learning Programs (LLP), which integrate classroom and out-of-class experiences for students in formal and informal ways. UK currently offers LLPs in the areas of fine arts, global village, honors, ROTC, leadership and service, healthcare and first-generation students. The specific areas come and go to some extent, based on student interest. (The complete list, and additional information, is at http://www.uky.edu/Housing/undergraduate/llp2.html.) Participation in LLPs has grown over the years; expected participation for freshman entering in 2014 will almost double the number of participants in 2013. The general information about the LLPs was interesting, but as a Board member I was fascinated by the retention and GPA statistics that were shared. The overall fall 2012 to spring 2013 retention rate for LLP students was 98%, while the overall campus cohort was 94% (both figures statistically significant). The average GPA for students in LLP was also better than the overall campus cohort – an average GPA of 3.26 for LLP students versus an average GPA of 2.99 for the overall campus cohort. If the LLPs grow as much as planned, they will offer UK a significant path towards improving our students’ GPA and retention rates.
We also heard a presentation about UK Core, which is UK’s general education system. It was and remains a collaborative effort of the faculty to ensure that UK’s students can graduate with their specific disciplinary skill set but still have a foundation of basic knowledge that every student needs to be a productive member of society. The last agenda item was an update on activities, from the Student Government Association President (who is also the student trustee).
At 9 am was the University Athletics Committee meeting. We went over the financial statements for the Athletics department, a routine budget revision and an Athletics departmental update. I do understand that the finances are critical, but the human component is also very interesting to me. A few highlights are below:
· The women’s tennis team finished the season with a winning record and posted the highest team GPA for spring semester sports, a 3.69.
· The women’s golf team finished 12th out of 24 teams in the NCAA regional meet. While the team was ranked about 100th in the country last year, the team finished this year at about 35th in the country.
· Overall GPAs of participating scholarship athletes was 3.14 for the spring semester, the highest in school history. This also marks the first time in UK’s history that the overall Athletics’ GPA (of participating scholarship athletes) has been greater than a 3.0 for two consecutive semesters.
· A small group of male athletes completed a one-week educational/service trip to Ethiopia in May and another group will travel to the same country next month. This is the third year in a row that UK has been involved in service to Ethiopians.
Next, at 10 am, was the University Relations Committee. This time we heard from College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment Dean M. Scott Smith, who shared information about UK’s Cooperative Extension Service. Many already know about the wonderful services provided by our extension employees, but this was a great refresher on all the things that cooperative extension does for all of us. There are about 400 agents across the state who specialize in a variety of areas, most of which are covered in these four overall areas: Agriculture and Natural Resources; 4-H programs; Family and Consumer Sciences; and Community and Economic Development.
Below are some random facts from the presentation:
· In almost every county, there is an Extension Board that owns and maintains the physical infrastructure of each county extension office.
· By virtue of a survey (completed earlier this spring) by the College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment, approximately 90% of respondents at least knew that Cooperative Extension (CE) exists, although it is very likely that many respondents knew more than that basic fact.
· CE receives approximately 7 million contacts from Kentuckians every year.
o As a result of interaction with CE: 13,000 farmers reported an increase in profits; 111,000 individuals incorporated new or additional conservation practices; 24,000 individuals adopted practices to ensure safe drinking water; and over 64,000 families reported eating healthier foods.
· County extension agents have job requirements associated with being a good representative of UK, as well as requirements for recruiting students to attend UK. (There is a LOT of communication between 4-H agents and the local school system.)
· It is not uncommon for an agent to meet a farmer in the field, take a picture of a diseased crop with an iPad, send the photo to a diagnostic lab for a quick evaluation, and have an answer back to both the agent and the farmer before they have had time to leave the field. Although technology plays a very strong part in successful CE ventures, the overall success depends on face-to-face interactions.
· There are five Fine Arts extension agents across the state – their efforts have been nationally recognized as exceptional examples of innovative, cross-college programming.
· The “2nd Sunday” event, which started out in Lexington and promotes all sorts of health activities for children and adults, was started by one of UK’s Fayette County extension agents. This program has since spread across Kentucky and is being adopted across the nation, as well.
Clearly, Cooperative Extension is not just for farmers. If you have a specific question about something at home (food preparation, decorative plant, farm crop, family finances) or want to start a new small business, or if you just want more general information from Cooperative Extension, more information is available on their website (http://ces.ca.uky.edu/ces/).
The next meeting, at 11 am, was the Finance Committee meeting. The first major Finance Committee agenda item was a gift and pledge of $8,000,000 towards the soon-to-be redesigned and expanded Gatton College of Business and Economics Building. This brings the donations from this particular individual to over $21 million. It goes without saying that such generosity is what allows us to grow and expand, all for the benefit of our students and the Commonwealth as a whole.
Next came a variety of routine agenda items, including some maintenance projects. The second major item was the approval of initiation of fit-up space in the new Patient Care Facility, including the eighth floor for inpatient services and space on the third floor for pharmacy services. I was given a very clear description of what this action will facilitate, but perhaps it is sufficient to say that fitting up the eighth floor will allow UK HealthCare to serve more patients and create a domino effect, allowing other areas to expand and/or be renovated.
The Finance Committee also approved the 2013-14 Operating and Capital Budget. The Budget is based on a three percent tuition increase (previously approved by the Board in March) and no increase in state appropriations. The Budget provides monies for the five percent salary increase pool for non-UK HealthCare units and sets aside funds to service the debt on capital projects the University may take on in the coming year. The total budget for the University for 2013-14 is $2.7 billion.
The last major Finance Committee item was acceptance and approval of UK’s 2014-2020 capital plan and of the 2014-2016 capital request, and authorize the President to make adjustments as necessary. The capital plan is a huge list of all the possible capital construction plans that UK might possibly want to undertake – it has literally every capital project that UK could undertake. (UK is obligated by state statute to inform the legislature of what capital projects could be undertaken during the year, regardless of how the project will be funded. If it is not on the list, it will not be done.) The 2014-2016 capital request, however, is a much shorter list (“only” 152 items) and involves the items that UK is most likely to be able to accomplish. Again, however, it is not a list of what UK plans to do – it is a list of what UK might do if the stars are in correct alignment. If we have not informed the legislature of what we are thinking about doing, we will not be given approval, even if funding is available.
After lunch, we had the full Board of Trustees meeting. President Capilouto started us out with a presentation from Libraries about an open-source software that has been developed by faculty in Libraries to facilitate the transcription and associated text word searching of oral history interviews. It is not yet available to the public, but it is generating nationwide interest, particularly among oral historians and researchers who use such resources.
The Board formally approved the appointment of our incoming provost, Dr. Christine Riordan, who will be on campus shortly before the fall semester begins. We also had second readings for a slew of Governing Regulations; please see my blog post from May for descriptions of those changes.
The end of the meeting was bittersweet, as the June meeting often is. We saw the departure of four trustees whose terms will end June 30 – these four members represented a collective 37 years of service to the University of Kentucky. In my opinion, these four have done a superb job of representing the Commonwealth of Kentucky at the level of the Board. Being a trustee is hard work. There is a lot to learn in order to figure out what exactly one should be thinking about, and then there is even more work to make sure we stay on top of those issues while remaining aware of things on the horizon. We look towards the future, often, to see if our decisions today will stand the test of time. It is no small undertaking; the vast majority of trustees take such responsibilities extremely seriously and work very, very hard to do the right thing. These four trustees are the epitome of this type of effort and they will be sorely missed. Although I am sorry to see those trustees leave, I am confident that I will enjoy getting to know the new trustees who will be coming to the Board in the next couple of months.
I have two final things, neither of which is related to the June Board meeting.
First, before the fall semester arrives, I wanted to take a moment to let staff know about our opportunities to attend UK’s Olympic sports events (baseball, softball, gymnastics, men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball and some women’s basketball, based on general admission seating availability). An employee and a guest can attend any Olympic sporting event at no charge. If you have more than one person you’d like to bring with you, you can try the “True Blue Club,” which offers a season pass to Olympic sporting events for $25 for an individual and $40 for a family of two adults and up to three children. Please visit the Athletics ticket site (http://www.ukathletics.com/tickets/tickets-olympic-sports.html) for details and fine print. (The blurb about free tickets to employees is at the bottom of the page.)
Next, and finally, I’d like to offer my appreciation for all the individuals who participated in the 2013 staff trustee election – the candidates, the voters, and most particularly, the Staff Senate’s Elections Committee. The Staff Senate Election Committee members, in particular, worked very hard for months to make sure there was a fair election and sufficient communication so that every staff employee who wanted to participate could do so, and do so very easily.
I appreciate all the votes I received and am happy to have been reelected; I am honored to represent staff for another three years. I encourage you to contact me with questions, complaints, concerns and suggestions. (859-257-5872 / email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org)