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September 25
September 10 Board Meeting Blog Post

Good morning, everyone. Below is your regularly scheduled blog post. The full agenda (with supporting documentation) for the September 10, 2013 Board of Trustees meeting is available at http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/sept/welcome.html. Immediately below are your bulleted items. Further below are items that were of particular interest to me.

 

·         The Executive Committee reviewed a change to Governing Regulations II and made a recommendation regarding President Capilouto’s evaluation.

 

·         The Athletics Committee heard a departmental report from Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart and saw a presentation on compliance rules of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

 

·         The Human Resources/University Relations committee discussed and approved a change to UK’s retirement vesting.

 

·         There were 15 different items for the Finance Committee to review. Some of them are listed below.

 

·         The full Board approved officers and the composition of the Executive Committee. President Capilouto gave a presentation on enrollment numbers for fall 2013. We approved the action items presented to us, and wrapped up with a presentation from Provost Christine Riordan on the process that will be used to engage the campus in the creation of a new strategic plan, for 2014-2020.

 

·         We need to appreciate ourselves – staff employees do a great job and we need to recognize it in ourselves and in our colleagues.

 

Tuesday started with the Executive Committee; the two agenda items were a revision to Governing Regulations II and the evaluation of the President. The change to GR II pertained to the composition of the Executive Committee (EC) – currently it is comprised of the Board Chair and four trustees who are elected to serve on the EC. The Board’s Vice Chair, though, has had to be elected to the EC to be a member. (I’ve always thought that was a little weird – the Vice Chair is supposed to serve in place of the Chair if needed, but the Vice Chair is at a disadvantage if the Vice Chair is not on the EC.) The change will add the Vice Chair permanently to the EC, so in the future, the EC will be comprised of the Chair and Vice Chair, and three additional members (instead of four) will be elected by trustees.

 

The evaluation of the President was the big item. Similar to last year, the Board utilized the services of an outside individual to coordinate and summarize the input received from constituents (staff, faculty, students, donors, legislators, alumni, etc.). There were a few changes from last year, but the main difference was that trustees first offered input as constituents, which was incorporated into the report on the President’s evaluation. Subsequently, we used the report as the basis upon which we offered our opinions on the President’s performance. I like the process – it’s very lengthy (goes from late March through September) but the time is used to reach out and solicit input from a variety of constituencies, which makes the evaluation all the better.

 

The EC recommended the following items to the Board, all of which were approved by the Board:

1.     Extend President Capilouto’s employment contract for two additional years;

2.     Increase President Capilouto’s salary by 5%, which is the amount that most staff members were eligible to receive.

3.     Award a one-time bonus of 10% (which translates to $50,000); and

4.     Establish a longevity incentive equal to President Capilouto’s 2017-2018 base salary, if he serves through June 2018. (The 2018 date assumes that he accepts the contract extension in #1; his current contract will end in June 2016.)

 

As has been widely reported, the President donated his $50,000 bonus to the University.

 

The next meeting was the Athletics Committee. We had an update on activities by our student athletes, which is always interesting. The major presentation dealt with NCAA compliance rules. There are a slew of rules the NCAA has promulgated; there are a handful of staff working in Athletics whose sole responsibility is to ensure compliance with the letter and intent of rules promulgated by UK, the Southeastern Conference and the NCAA, as well as ensure that UK reports any self-violations as soon as they are identified. When an institution self-reports a violation of NCAA rules (any NCAA rule, not just those pertaining to compliance or recruitment), the NCAA sees it as a positive thing – the institution is likely committed to following the rules, has processes in place to monitor the rules and wants to let the NCAA know as soon as possible if there has been an infraction. The take-away for most trustees was that if any of us is not sure if what we are doing is okay, we need to call Athletics and ask, first.

 

As an aside, it was clear that UK’s Athletics Department puts a high priority on compliance with NCAA regulations. I have to hand it to UK’s compliance staff – the message that trustees have a higher standard to meet was received loud and clear. As a trustee, I can’t recall many times when we, as a group, have been told we are not allowed to do something. The presenter from Athletics, however, did not bat an eye as she advised individual trustees on what we could and could not do. I liked her straightforward attitude and the clear message that ethics and integrity are more important than any potential student athlete recruit.

 

I sat in on the first bit of the Academic and Student Affairs Committee, but had to leave after a few minutes to attend the Human Resources and University Relations Committee.

 

At the Human Resources and University Relations Committee, we had one action item, which dealt with a change to the retirement vesting period. First, a little background – prior to January 2010, the University made contributions to an employee’s retirement account, which was available to the employee immediately. (This is “immediate vesting.”). In January 2010, the University changed the vesting period so that UK’s employer contribution would be vested after a waiting period of five years. The agenda item presented to the Human Resources Committee had a couple of aspects, but the primary change was to the vesting period, shortening it from five years to three years, effective January 2013. I think the change to three years is good for staff and good for UK, so I voted in favor of it.

 

The University Relations portion of the meeting was brief. The committee chair went over the various presentations given to the committee over the past two years and reiterated the recurring themes of outreach, effective communication, inclusion, and staff retention, among others. I have been on campus for almost 20 years, but I appreciated the various presentations to the committee, in large part because I always learned something new at every meeting.

 

The Finance Committee meeting started at 11 am. There were 15 Finance Committee Reports (FCRs) for review. I’ve listed some of the items below.

 

·         Acceptance of two bequests (totaling $4.2 million) from the estate of Dr. E. Vernon Smith, to add to the existing Dr. E. Vernon Smith and Eloise C. Smith Alzheimer’s Research Endowed Chair Fund. The University has already received more than $5 million in fulfilled pledges for nine endowments to honor Dr. Smith’s wife and other family members.

 

·         Renovation of approximately 10,000 square feet of shelled space in the recently purchased Lexington Theological Seminary to accommodate the College of Education’s Early Childhood Laboratory (ECL). This will be a permanent move for the ECL and will allow them to double the number of children served.

 

·         Finish renovations to the Schmidt Vocal Arts Center. This project started about five years ago and began with infrastructure needs; this phase involves changes that are visible, such as improvements to rehearsal rooms, teaching studios, practice rooms, the music library and office space for staff and graduate assistants.

 

·         Additional renovations to University Lofts, which will be the new space for Fine Arts staff, faculty and students who are currently housed in Reynolds Building #1. In addition to the purchase price, the project was originally budgeted for $8 million, but the project is now estimated to be $15 million. A more detailed assessment was conducted post-purchase; some early assumptions about reliance on existing systems were incorrect. The work is expected to be complete by December 2014.

 

·         Improve mechanical systems (air handling units, temperature controls, exhaust fans, etc.) for the Fine Arts Building. The scope is expected not expected to exceed $4.5 million.

 

·         Approve planning and design costs of up to $500,000 for the fit-up of the Clinical Decision Unit in the Chandler Patient Care Facility. The link following this sentence goes to the agenda item – under “Background” it contains a nice summary of Board approvals to date involving the Patient Care Facility.  (http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/sept/fcr14.pdf)

 

·         Entering into a long-term (99 years) ground lease with Shriner’s Hospital to start the process of constructing a new facility shared by Shriner’s and UK. Eventually, Shriner’s outpatient pediatric patients will be seen in this new facility; inpatient care will be provided by Kentucky Children’s Hospital. Some of the space in the new facility will be used to relocate some existing (non-pediatric) outpatient clinics, and related services. 

 

The full Board of Trustees meeting started after lunch, at 1 pm. As always, I’ve already described most of the agenda through descriptions of committee business. There were a few things that were newly presented to us in the Board meeting, so I’ll focus on those.

 

The Nominating Committee presented a slate of officers for 2013-2014, as well as proposed membership for the Executive Committee. Below is a list of the individuals elected/reelected into various positions.

 

Chair: E. Britt Brockman

Vice Chair: O. Keith Gannon

Secretary: Sheila Brothers

Executive Committee:    C. B. Akins, Sr.; Terry Mobley; Jim Stuckert; Barbara Young

 

President Capilouto announced the enrollment numbers for fall 2013. You can visit http://uknow.uky.edu/content/record-first-year-enrollment-increases-quality-diversity-uk for details and a link to the President’s presentation to the Board (bottom of the article). Our incoming class is notable for historic levels of diversity and academic quality. Regarding diversity, the number of African American and Hispanic students continues to rise. The numbers are not a large percentage of the entire class, but small gains should be celebrated as a step in the right direction.  

 

Quick aside: as an employee, I would like to see an increased emphasis on diversity in our workplace – the most recent available numbers (from 08-09) show a decline in the race and ethnicity distribution as a percentage of the total numbers of full-time staff. (taken from second chart on this site: http://www.uky.edu/IRPE/diversity/staff/race_ethnicity.html) Diversity is more than just gender or race, though – we all benefit from “unlikely conversations with non-like-minded people.” President Capilouto used that phrase in the Board meeting, but in a different context. I like the sentiment, though, and think it offers a way to describe broaden the idea of diversity, moving away from a narrow definition that only involves gender and race.

 

At the end of the meeting, Provost Christine Riordan offered a brief presentation on planning for the next strategic plan. There will be six key initiatives, although I must admit that I’ll be most interested in number five, “Create a positive work environment for faculty and staff.” Work has begun on setting up the systems and processes to support the strategic planning initiative for a campus our size. There will be a master planning committee that will involve about 55-60 people, divided into six working groups (one for each initiative). Input from our community (staff, faculty, students, alumni, friends) will be solicited throughout the process, from September 2013 – March 2014. The expectation is that a final plan will be presented to the Board in June 2014 for approval. I appreciate the intent to create one overarching document to guide the University, which will incorporate metrics from the Top 20 Business Plan – tracking our progress is more difficult when we have multiple plans to work from.

 

I’ll close with an item of interest that is frequently on my mind – the value and importance of appreciating ourselves. We work very hard to support this University, and by extension we are serving students, patients, as well as broader local, state and national communities. As budgets have shrunk, we are still doing wonderful work, but I think we’re a tad frazzled at times. I often worry about UK’s workplace culture – some of us work in great places, but we wonder if anyone recognizes that we pour our hearts and souls into our work at UK. Sometimes we are too busy working to appreciate the contributions of our colleagues. When I hear President Capilouto speak to large groups of employees, he always starts with thanking those present for all the good work they do. We need to take a page from his book!

 

So, over the next few weeks, I encourage everyone to find time to recognize the efforts of your coworkers.

 

·          “Thank you” to colleagues who un-jam the copier even when they didn’t cause the problem.

·         “Great job” when your employees get that important job done on time.

·          “It’s okay – we’ll know better next time” when one of us takes a calculated risk that just doesn’t pan out.

·          “I appreciate you taking the time to explain that to me” when we finally understand that particular process.

 

By and large, we are all trying our best, so we ought to pat ourselves and each other on the back when we have large and small successes.

 

I sometimes wonder how to say what I’m about to say in this last paragraph, without sounding like I’m repeating myself. I have given up – the same words still apply. I am honored to represent staff employees on the Board of Trustees. It’s a huge responsibility and I take it very seriously. If you have a question, complaint, concern or suggestion, please don’t hesitate to reach me. I’m available via phone (859-257-5872) and via email (sbrothers@uky.edu and ukstafftrustee@gmail.com).  

 

With best regards,

Sheila

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