Greetings! This is your blog post for the January 31 Board meeting. The full agenda with supporting documentation is at http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2014/jan/welcome.html.
The January meeting was our first opportunity to try out a new schedule. For years, the Board has held committee meetings on Tuesday morning and the meeting of the full Board on Tuesday afternoon. (In perusing some old Board minutes I read that back in 1904 the Board was meeting on Tuesdays!) After some discussion among trustees, we agreed to try out meeting on a Friday instead of a Tuesday. This also means that the Board committee meetings that took place on Monday afternoons are moved to Thursday afternoons. I personally like the new schedule, but we’ll see if others do, too. The January meeting was our first try with the new day of the week, and I hope it continues.
Below are some bulleted items of interest from the January Board and committee meetings.
· The Investment Committee approved a new student-managed investment fund program.
· The University Health Care Committee saw an informative presentation on the advanced uses of imaging tools in translational research.
· The Audit and Compliance Subcommittee engaged in some light housekeeping activities, including an overview of the current internal audit plan.
· The Human Resources/University Relations Committee heard a presentation from UK Public Relations on the many services offered by UK’s PR office.
· The Academic and Student Affairs Committee heard a presentation from UK’s Counseling Center, which sees approximately 5% of the student population on an annual basis.
· The Finance Committee approved a number of new construction projects across campus that will benefit a variety of constituencies.
· The full Board of Trustees meeting included the vast majority of committee items, as well as an overview of UK’s Living Learning Programs.
The Board committee meetings began on Thursday afternoon with the Investment Committee. The Investment Committee meeting was largely about contract revisions and a change to investment policy. The aspect I found most interesting was the initiation of a new student-managed investment fund program for graduate students. Through a program sponsored by the Tennessee Valley Authority, UK has operated a similar program for undergraduates for some time, so the time was right to expand this type of learning experience. Guidelines were included to ensure the fund is managed in such a way as to minimize negative returns.
The University Health Care Committee met later in the afternoon. Attendees learned about advanced imaging tools used in translational research. We heard a report on capacity in Chandler Hospital – we are at capacity on a regular basis and have begun having to turn away some patients due to a lack of beds. The next item for review by the Committee was to fit-up a new 24-bed clinical decision unit.
Committee meetings began anew the following morning, with the Audit and Compliance Subcommittee. The Subcommittee reviewed a variety of documents, including the list of entities on campus that may be part of a regular internal audit review. The current list of audited entities was revised due to unplanned audit activities.
Next was the Human Resources/University Relations Committee, which involved a robust presentation on the various activities in UK’s Public Relations (PR) office. Essentially, PR is responsible for telling the UK story. They produce 1,500 – 2,000 written stories about a wide variety of topics every year and are responsible for sending out mass email communications from University administrators. About two-thirds of the staff in PR are occupied with promoting the academic and medical campuses, as well as working on internal communication. The other part of the PR team spends the vast majority of their time on student recruitment efforts. PR ensures that UK’s social media presence is unified, in that there are not disparate messages going out. Our presence on social media is impressive: 375,000+ followers on Facebook; 35,000 followers on Twitter; 186,000 followers on Google+; over one million views on Flickr; almost 87,000 connections on LinkedIn; and two YouTube channels with a combined total of 1.3 million views. PR also delivers in the area of student learning by providing 10 internships per semester. Towards the end of the meeting, I commented that PR also does a good job of communicating campus events internally, by virtue of encouraging departments to ask for coverage about relevant issue/event/topic that can be highlighted via UKNow.
The next meeting was for the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. The committee approved some business items and heard some interesting updates regarding the Student Government Association, the Counseling Center and faculty trends across the country. I thought the information about UK’s Counseling Center was very interesting, so I’ll focus on that.
Mary Chandler Bolin is the director of the Counseling Center and the associate director is Felito Aldarondo. Services are free and confidential to UK students who are enrolled in at least six credit hours of coursework. The Counseling Center (UKCC) offers various types of counseling to students, including group counseling, academic support (dealing with test anxiety, procrastination, etc.), and crisis intervention. UKCC offers outreach and intervention initiatives to students in the areas of primary and targeted prevention, awareness, professional services, as well as training for students, faculty and staff. The UKCC offers a practicum program as well as two internship programs and is generally “on call” when it comes to serving the needs of the UK community.
A chart was presented with statistical highlights of the UKCC. The figure that was most striking to me was that approximately 5% of our entire student population (1,381 students) is seen for counseling services (and many more at outreach events or for consultation) at UKCC, for an average of five to six sessions per person. Students’ most frequent concerns are anxiety, depression, stress, relationships and academics. It is good that our campus community recognizes the need to offer a variety of services that give students the tools they need to survive and thrive, both now and in the future. The UKCC also provides services to traditionally underrepresented populations and incorporates different backgrounds and cultures into its treatment opportunities where appropriate.
UK’s enrollment has increased on average by 450 students per year for the past five years. At these rates, the increased demand means the UKCC needs one new full-time clinician every three years or so just to maintain current services. The International Association of Counseling Services, which is the accreditation association for university and college counseling services, sets a goal of one clinician per 1,500 students – to meet this aspirational goal, the UKCC would need funding for an additional six staff employee clinicians. In three of the past five years, the UKCC has had to create a waitlist (for on-going counseling services) for part of the year, although they have improved efficiency in terms of staff and space utilization. Additionally, the President’s office provided funding for a new Care Coordinator position [hired in July 2013] and for market adjustments to help retain current clinical staff.
Brief segue – our University has so many intertwined parts that removing one cog from the machinery can have unintended consequences. It is my understanding that good revenues from Dining Services a couple of years ago provided recurring funding for a new clinical position in the Counseling Center. Around the same time, revenues from Dining Services also supported the purchase of new band instruments. If the University chooses to outsource Dining Services, which is the third highest revenue producing unit on campus (behind Athletics and UKHealthcare), I wonder if we may be limiting the funding available to support critical student services.
Back to the Counseling Center – they provide connections to other related agencies through liaison relationships across the campus and in the local community. At least 96% of students who have used the UKCC say they would recommend the UKCC to a friend, which is a great recognition of the hard working staff in the UKCC. 92% would return to the same counselor if they needed help in the future, and 86% of those counseled who considered leaving UK cited the Counseling Center as very helpful in their retention. The Counseling Center is clearly a jewel in UK’s crown, and its employees work very hard to maintain a welcoming, safe environment for the students who seek it out.
The Finance Committee met next; we reviewed seven Finance Committee Reports, which included the items below.
· Received a $1,000,000 pledge to create a scholarship fund for eligible Honors Program students from a ten-county region in Eastern Kentucky.
· Approved new construction at Chandler Hospital for a new 24-bed area to relieve patient loads.
· Approved new construction of new football training facilities and associate practice fields to be funded 100% by philanthropy.
· Approved renovation and upgrade of a lot on Scott Street to create about 265 parking spaces, which may be completed as early as November 2014.
· Approved the newest phase of student housing (Phase II-C), which involves 1,141 beds that will open in August 2016. (This phase is for the three new residence halls to be located with the other two under construction in the former Cooperstown area, at the corner of Woodland and Hilltop Avenue.)
· Approved the start of the design phase to develop a plan for renovating the Student Center, which is tentatively planned to include updated student activity and study spaces, dining and retail operations, parking, bookstore and other amenities.
The full Board of Trustees meeting was at 1 pm. President Capilouto started us off with an oral, virtual tour of what the campus will look like in two years, after the dust from our current construction and planning settles. In other words, when initial parts of the new campus master plan begin to take shape. I can’t possibly do it justice here, but if you would like to read it, the text of his comments will be in the minutes of the meeting, which will be available after the Board reviews them, on April 1. UK’s partnership with Education Reality Trust has led to the creation of about 9,000 direct and indirect jobs, 75% of which are held by Kentucky residents. Including the day’s approval of the newest phase in student housing construction, UK will have produced $10 million in state and local tax revenues.
I won’t go over all the agenda items, because I essentially did that in the process of reviewing Board committee activities. At the end of the Board meeting, we heard a presentation by Provost Christine Riordan regarding UK’s Living Learning Programs, which are embedded in various residence halls to offer curricular and co-curricular opportunities for students in various disciplinary or subject areas. There are 13 current LLPs: Agricultural Residential College; Arts and Sciences Wired Residential College; Engineering Residential College; Fine Arts Residential College; First Generation Community; Global Scholars Community; Global Village Community; Healthcare Residential College; Honors Community; i-Net [entrepreneurship] Community; Leadership and Service Community; ROTC Community; and Wellness Community. You can click on the following link to learn more about each LLP: http://www.uky.edu/Housing/undergraduate/llp/communities.html.
Students in Living Learning Programs (LLPs) have improved retention and higher GPAs, more engaging course structures and learning experiences, greater engagement in the classroom and within the University community, as well as higher gains in critical thinking. Generally speaking, students who live off campus have the lowest retention rates from freshman to sophomore year. On-campus students have better retention rates, and students living on campus in LLPs have the highest retention rates. UK has recently convened a task force to evaluate our LLPs and make recommendations and investigate expansion.
LLPs can be linked to a single academic unit, linked to multiple academic units for a multidisciplinary experience, or not linked to any academic unit, but rather be focused on a theme. As UK’s number of residence hall beds increases, UK intends to increase the number of LLPs to 19. LLPs are open to any undergraduate student, from freshman up to senior and the research on LLPs nationwide and here at UK show that students involved in them are better prepared to manage life during and after college.
Trustees were originally scheduled to take a brief tour of Champions Court I (in the former parking lot between Blazer and Memorial Coliseum), but due to high winds and low temperatures, there were no complaints about postponing until a better weather day.
Due in part to the recent Performance Evaluation season, I have been thinking about professional development and how UK could better integrate it into the work environment. One existing opportunity for professional development is participation in the Staff Senate. Staff employees who serve in the Staff Senate can develop leadership and collaborative skills and at the same time share with their departments the information they learn as senators. Senators have regular opportunities to engage with thought leaders and administrators to learn more about what is on UK’s radar; many of these things affect not just UK, but affect individual departments as well, such as the development of a new budget model and changes to policy/regulations, as well as construction projects, the ongoing campus security project, and the current development of a Strategic Plan for 2014 – 2020. Participation in the Staff Senate requires a handful of hours of time away from an employee’s workstation, but the benefits to the employee and the department are far, far greater.
There are only so many ways to say it, so I may have to start saying it in different languages to offer some variety. I remain honored to represent staff employees on UK’s Board of Trustees. The things we do every day, both small and large, allow UK to achieve its goals and I am proud to serve on behalf of so many staff members. Please contact me via phone (859-257-5872) or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you’d like to chat.
With best regards