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This is a blog authored by the Staff Representative to the Board of Trustees (Sheila Brothers). The views expressed here may not necessarily be those of the University of Kentucky.
April 09
January 31, 2014 Board of Trustees Meeting

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 (ukstafftrustee@gmail.com) if you’d like to chat.

 

With best regards

Sheila Brothers

February 27
December 2013 Board Meeting

Hello, everyone. The agenda for the December Board meeting was long – due to the retreat in October, regular business items waited until the December meeting. Here is the full agenda for the December 2013 Board meeting: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/dec/welcome.html.

 

·         The Athletics Committee heard a variety of reports, one of which outlined the ways in which our student athletes contribute to the community off the sports field.

 

·         The Academic and Student Affairs Committee saw a handful of presentations illustrating how much care we put into making UK a student’s home away from home.

 

·         The Finance Committee approved a number of generous donations as well as approved routine maintenance.

 

The Athletics Committee heard a report on activities on and off the field for our student athletes. Because activities on the field are well reported, I’ll concentrate on what our student athletes have been doing in addition to their sporting accomplishments.

 

·         Two student athletes (one from men’s basketball and one from women’s basketball) were nominees for the Allstate Good Works Team for their dedication to volunteerism and civic service.

 

·         A member of the men’s soccer team majoring in mechanical engineering earned a 3.93 GPA and was named First-Team All America.

 

·         Members of the women’s basketball team participated in a Thanksgiving project to help the less fortunate through the Bluegrass Hospitality Group’s Thanksgiving Dinner – they encouraged fans to donate toiletry items and then team members delivered them in person.

 

·         Members of the men’s basketball team spent time with members of our community who were utilizing the resources of the Salvation Army.

 

·         Student athletes from a variety of teams made blankets and delivered them to patients at UK Children’s Hospital.

 

Next was Academic and Student Affairs Committee, where members heard a variety of presentations.

 

·         Student Government Association activities: UK has 485 registered student organizations; there were/are eight service trips scheduled for winter break, spring break and the summer; and the Student Activities Board put on 60 events for students during the fall 2013 semester.

 

·         Retention Update: UK uses a variety of interventions to help identify students who are at risk, perhaps in terms of failing grades or experiencing an emotional difficulty, like homesickness. Depending on the situation, a student may be contacted by their advisor, professor, or someone else who is thought to be best suited to assist the student.

 

·         Community and Safety Update: UK continues to see success with the “Community of Concern” program, which works with students and employees. The group used to be focused almost solely on students, but has evolved into a group that takes care of the entire University community. You can visit their website to learn more about the group, as well as how to report a concern. http://www.uky.edu/coc/

 

·         Student Affairs update: the Center for Community Outreach UK Alternative Spring Breaks (UKASB) program has been selected as the Program of the Year for the Commission for Student Involvement through the American College of Personnel Association (ACPA) for 2013-14.  The students will attend the award presentation in Indianapolis at the national ACPA convention in March 2014. Also, a report from the Workgroup on Student Health and Safety should be completed soon, the group was charged by President Capilouto to look into alcohol-related issues on campus and offer recommendations.    

 

The Finance Committee had the largest committee agenda of the day, with 23 individual agenda items. I hesitate to name any of the donors to the University for fear of leaving someone out; perhaps it is sufficient to say that the University of Kentucky touches different people in different ways, and sometimes the end result is a substantial generous gift back to UK. The Finance Committee approved donations for: Athletics; the renovations to the Gatton College of Business and Economics; an endowed professorship in English; a graduate fellowship fund in Civil Engineering; a new DanceBlue endowment fund; an endowed professorship in Arts and Sciences; and an endowment for the Center for Research on Violence Against Women. The Finance Committee also approved a variety of repairs/upgrades/expansions.

 

The full Board met at 1 pm; President Capilouto introduced new Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and the Environment Nancy Cox. Trustees have commented time and time again on the superb services offered by that college to the citizens of the Commonwealth. Dean Cox received a warm round of applause.

 

This ends the update for the December Board meeting. You know how to reach me when/if you want to! (ukstafftrustee@gmail.com) / 859-257-5872)

 

Sheila

November 18
October 25-26 Board Retreat, Meeting

Hello, all. Here is your regularly scheduled Board of Trustees meeting update. You get an extra report this time – we had our annual retreat on Friday, prior to the actual meeting later on Saturday morning.

 

The agenda for the Board’s retreat on Friday, October 25 Board is here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/meetings/retreats/2013-10-25.html. The list of presentations, though, is here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/retreats/oct2013/welcome.html. (Below are specific links to each presentation.)

 

·         The Board was given a presentation on the 2014 – 2020 Strategic Plan; I offered a few suggestions about aspects to consider, with the goal of improving our workplace.

 

·         There was a presentation on research at UK.

 

·         The Campus Master Plan was presented to trustees.

 

·         The Board meeting on Saturday was very short and focused primarily on what was covered during the retreat on Friday, with a couple of exceptions.

 

2014-20 Strategic Plan

(http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/retreats/oct2013/Part%20II%20-%20Provost%2010.23.13.pdf)

After an introductory presentation by President Eli Capilouto, we heard a presentation from Provost Christine Riordan on the planning process for UK’s next strategic plan (2014-2020). After the presentation, I asked what the administration wanted from trustees during the retreat; the Provost replied that they wanted like feedback into metrics that will guide the metrics involved in our next strategic plan. Trustees are not often asked to offer input into nitty-gritty details, but I’ll use whatever opportunity is presented to me. The 2014-20 Strategic Plan initiative that most interests me, as staff trustee, is initiative number five – “Create a Positive Work Environment for Faculty and Staff.” Below are general descriptions of the suggestions I offered.

·         Emphasize metrics based on outputs, not inputs.

 

o    I know many staff who are asked to document number of phone calls, or number of emails, etc., to demonstrate effectiveness. There are always exceptions, but I think UK should track outcomes, such as improved flexibility, problem solving or facilitating collaboration. Counting contacts does give a measure, but I’m fairly confident that UK assumes the phone calls and emails are supposed to produce something, and that something ought to be measured.

 

·         Emphasize communities on campus.

 

o    We are all part of various communities, some of them through the workplace. These communities tend to be centered around some commonality that other members of the community share – gender, skin color, philosophical or religious beliefs, activities we enjoy, etc. In addition to using “Diversity” when talking about a workplace environment, I think we should also use “community” to describe the smaller places where we may feel more comfortable. We have to make sure, though, that we welcome anyone in to our communities if they want to join; whether someone looks like they fit in a community or not is irrelevant. We usually benefit from exposure to something new and/or different.

 

·         Support Human Resources’ efforts to actively promote civility in the workplace.

 

o    No one wants to be treated rudely. We know who of our coworkers can be counted on to be courteous and polite to others. Being nice does not mean you must agree with everything, though. Nice people are perfectly capable of raising an objection, expressing a concern, or offering a solution; being nice just means offering your thoughts in an appropriate time and place, with an appropriate attitude. I think I’m usually nice to others, but that certainly doesn’t stop me from asking questions or offering suggestions!

 

·         Improve professional development for staff.

 

o    Some staff positions on campus are part of job families, which offer a simple process for promotion within the same unit. Others, though, must look for another job if they want to move up the chain of command or learn a new skill. It would be nice to develop more job families, whereby an employee can start at an initial level and after demonstrating significantly increased proficiency in their field, can advance to the next level; supervisory responsibilities would add an additional level for advancement. I recognize, though, that this type of system would work well for some positions, but not for others.

 

o    Supervisor should be rewarded for consistently developing their own employees. The end result of professional development is often an employee finding another position that takes advantage of the employee’s new skills. To me, professional development occurs when a supervisor encourages an employee to receive training in new areas, cross-training, support team-building exercises, etc. Right now, aside from the knowledge of knowing they’ve helped someone to succeed, supervisors who develop their employees don’t get much for all their hard work. Human Resources does sponsor a supervisor awards program, but I’d like to see an institutionalized culture that celebrates those who invest time and effort to help others realize their full employment potential.

 

·         Expand continuing education opportunities.

 

o    For some fields, staff need to stay abreast of changes in national standards, new processes and best practices. Other staff may need more basic opportunities to continue their education, like becoming more adept with a University process or system. We need to be sure that resources are available for staff to hone their expertise, as well as develop new skills. Furthermore, we need to ensure that employees have the opportunity to take advantage of these opportunities.

 

Research at UK

(http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/retreats/oct2013/Part%20V%20-%20Research%20(Tracy).pdf)

Our staff and faculty are involved in incredibly diverse fields of research and I always enjoy learning about them. The presentation made it clear, too, that one academic field’s research is not better than another’s research. All sorts of research benefit us in a variety of ways, from research into cancer treatments and helping citizens of the Commonwealth overcome the scourge of substance abuse, to identifying unique ways of delivering operatic experiences and reducing emissions from coal-powered energy.

 

Campus Master Plan

(http://www.uky.edu/EVPFA/Facilities/MasterPlan/documents/UK_masterplan_2013-11-08_web_spreads.pdf This is a huge file, so you may need to give a minute or two to open.)

The last item of business was the campus master plan. A lot of thought has been put into designing a plan for our physical campus. The plan involves the identification of various zones (academic, agricultural, etc.) on campus, as well as the robust use of natural landscaping to direct or better direct pedestrian traffic. The plan also calls for maintaining/growing green spaces around campus. My primary comment for this item pertained to accessibility. I referred to the accessibility of the outdoor gathering area between the new residence halls Central I and Central II, saying I liked the way that area used natural landscape to offer two types of access to the area (flat ground as well as stairs) without the need for “Handicapped Entrance Here” sign.

 

After the presentation, we took a bus tour of campus to see a couple of spots with regular traffic problems (yes, of course, Rose Street was a major focus!), see progress on residence hall construction projects, and get a general sense of the area around campus. I am here, on campus, all the time, but some trustees, particularly those from out of town, do not have many opportunities to see how campus is changing.

 

If you’d like to learn more about UK’s master plan, visit http://www.uky.edu/EVPFA/Facilities/MasterPlan/index.html.

 

After digesting so much information, we (at least I did) needed a chance to sleep on it and come back refreshed and ready to for additional discussion. We started Saturday morning with a wrap-up from President Capilouto and some final comments. He went over the six initiatives/goals comprising the 2014-20 Strategic Plan, which is sufficiently broad to encompass everything that UK does or should do.

 

·         Create a vibrant undergraduate learning community

·         Advance a high-quality graduate and professional education portfolio

·         Cultivate a robust research environment

·         Develop a strong and sustainable UK infrastructure

·         Create a positive work environment for faculty and staff

·         Have a meaningful impact on the community

 

Sometimes narrowly focused is good but I appreciate the broad scope of the initiatives, which will allow UK to make adjustments to the University’s direction as time progresses, yet remain within the confines of the plan.

 

Board Meeting, Saturday October 26

After the wrap-up, we took a brief, minutes-long break and then moved immediately to the formal meeting. The agenda for the October 26 Board meeting is here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/oct/.

 

The meeting was very short – it was over by 10 am or so. We approved the proposed goals for the strategic plan, with one small edit: the last one was changed to read, “Have a meaningful impact on the community and the Commonwealth” with the term “community” being broadly defined (not limited to Fayette County or contiguous counties).

 

We approved the changes to Governing Regulations II about the Board’s Executive Committee (details in the blog post for the September 9 Board meeting) – it was the second and final reading.

 

Next we approved the seven principles for implementation of the campus master plan:

 

1. Academic Environment

2. Campus Life

3. Community

4. Growth

5. Mobility

6. Landscape Structure

7. Sustainability

 

Each principle has a paragraph of description that goes along with it – those can be found here: (http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/oct/pr1.pdf, pages 2 - 3). We weren’t asked to approve any specific actions for the campus, like demolition or construction, but rather review the overarching principles that UK should adhere to when short- and long-term plans are being made for our physical campus.

 

In terms of routine business, we approved the awarding of two honorary degrees to two individuals with ties to Kentucky, Wilbert James and Michael Nietzel. Additionally, we approved via a second reading a change to Governing Regulations II regarding the composition of the Board’s Executive Committee. (Please see the September post for more details on that change.)

 

In keeping with the message from my last post about appreciating ourselves, please do something nice for a coworker or say “Hi!” to the person you always see in the hall, but have never spoken to. We are responsible for our culture on campus and when we do things to make this a better place to work, it pays off for everyone.

 

Thank you, everyone, for the opportunity to represent you on the Board of Trustees. Here comes the same message – if you want to chat with me about anything, anything at all, please get in touch. You can reach me via phone (859-257-5872) or via email (sbrothers@uky.edu / ukstafftrustee@gmail.com).

 

The next Board meeting will be in mid-December.

 

Yours,

Sheila 

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
June 26
June 11 Board Meeting - Blog Post

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 / sbrothers@uky.edu / ukstafftrustee@gmail.com)

 

Thank you,

Sheila

May 30
May 2013 Board Meeting Blog Post

Good day, colleagues. This is your regularly scheduled, post-Board meeting, blog update. The full agenda and supporting documentation for the various agenda items from Monday’s meeting can be found at http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2013/may/welcome.html.

 

Brief digression – many thank to those who responded about the blog length. The overwhelming sentiment was to keep the content as is. In a nod to those who want a quicker read, however, one staff member offered the suggestion that I offer some bulleted highlights at the top of the blog. It was a great idea, and it begins now ….

 

·         The Executive Committee reviewed for a first reading new language on its responsibilities, as well as approved the questions to be used for the President’s annual evaluation.

 

·         The Athletics Committee and University Relations Committees met jointly and heard information about Athletics’ processes and procedures by which it develops and plans public relations, marketing and media strategies. There was also an update on the academic and athletic accomplishments of our student athletes.

 

·         The Human Resources Committee heard a presentation from the Staff Senate, as well as voted to approve and send to the full Board the creation of a policy statement to guide oversight of the 19 non-managed retirement funds. (Non-managed funds are everything EXCEPT Fidelity and TIAA-CREF funds.)

 

·         The Student Affairs Committee had an agenda that involved presentations on residence hall contracts with students, the mechanism for students to submit complaints, and an update on Student Government Association activities.

 

·         The Finance Committee reviewed and approved a donor bequest, a variety of infrastructure maintenance expenditures, and the purchase the space and facilities of the Lexington Theological Seminary.

 

·         The Board of Trustees meeting at 1 pm included just about everything bulleted above, as well as changes to the following Governing Regulations:  Governing Regulations I (“The University of Kentucky: Definition”); Governing Regulations X (“Regulations Affecting Employment”); Governing Regulations XIV (“Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct”) (new GR); and Governing Regulations V (“The Staff Senate”).

 

The day began at 8 am sharp, with a meeting of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee reviewed for a first reading a proposed change to Governing Regulations I (“The University of Kentucky: Definition”), specifically the charges to the Executive Committee. The new language states that the Executive Committee will “serve in an advisory capacity to the President on regulations and policies, institutional compliance and accountability.” In short, it is a further attempt to drive home the point that ethics and accountability are everyone’s responsibility, all the time, not just when it is convenient. When the item was presented at the full Board meeting at 1 pm, it was for a first reading. Between that time and when the Board meets again in June, it will be vetted with the three representative bodies on campus. (The three bodies are the Student Government Association, University Senate (for faculty) and the Staff Senate.)

 

The second item of business involved the questions that will comprise the evaluation of the President for 2012-13. The questions were sent out to the three representative bodies on campus for input; all of the suggested edits suggested were incorporated. The evaluation is a long process, and will involve input from 20 to 30 individuals (staff, faculty, students, alumni, donors, elected officials, etc.), that will be solicited, received and collated over the summer. In the late summer/early fall, the Board members will see the de-identified answers and will use that in offering our own evaluation. The final step is for the Executive Committee to render a final decision on the President’s evaluation. The process is long, but it allows for greater participation from a wider variety of individuals. An expanded evaluation in year three or four (of this new evaluation process) will occur, with between 30 and 50 participants.

 

A joint meeting of the Athletics Committee and the University Relations Committee started at 8:30 am. We heard about the Athletics department’s processes and procedures by which it develops and plans public relations, marketing and media strategies. As one example, student athletes on teams that are subject to extensive scrutiny are given media training, to help ensure that interviews and other such public interactions are handled carefully and respectfully. The intent is to give student athletes some pointers on how to interact with the public – some of our student athletes have never needed to speak to a member of the news media prior to their collegiate career, so the training makes logical sense. 

 

The next item of business was an update on the activities of the student athletes, both academic and athletic. Student athletes who were actively competing, and on scholarship, posted a UK record average 3.14 overall GPA for the spring 2013 semester. We also heard about the many accomplishments of both teams and individual athletes, in terms of regional and tournament play. It was pointed out that Athletics often serves as the “front porch” of the University – interested students and families may want to be involved at UK due to the sporting activities, but once they get in the front door, they see all sorts of educational and academic activities and initiatives in which students participate.

 

Next, at 9:30 am, was the meeting of the Human Resources Committee. There was one presentation and one action item. The presentation was given by the Chair of the Staff Senate, Mike Adams, in conjunction with the chair of the Staff Issues Committee, Terry Olson. The presentation touched on a variety of Staff Senate accomplishments and initiatives, as well as some current concerns. It was a nice balance of what the Staff Senate has accomplished over the years, what the Staff Senate is currently working on, and the issues that the Staff Senate perceives as being the most critical to/for staff. The critical staff issues mentioned included mandatory training for all new supervisors and refresher training for existing supervisors (standardize enforcement of and adherence to policies as well as foster skills for interpreting University policies); and the need for a much stronger University posture rejecting bullying and harassment of employees. The presentation was well received and I expect the Staff Senate will return in a year to give the Board another update.

 

The action item pertained to assisting employees who utilize any of the 19 investment funds that are offered separately from Fidelity and TIAA-CREF. Both Fidelity and TIAA-CREF monitor fund activity and fees to ensure appropriate levels of performance. The 19 non-affiliated funds, however, are not monitored. If an employee has put all their retirement funds into a fund that is not actively managed and the employee does not monitor the fund, the employee may not have a very good return on their investment. The action requested was to allow the Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration (EVPFA) to create a document that outlines the standards by which the funds will be managed (a policy statement), as well as allow the EVPFA to utilize an appropriate committee(s) and/or consultant(s) to assist in the execution of that policy statement. (That authority is codified in Administrative Regulations 3:1 – “The University of Kentucky Retirement Plans.”)  There is no downside for employees, as far as I can tell. I appreciate the efforts to improve the return on our retirement investments!

 

The Student Affairs Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee met at approximately the same time, at 10:15 and 10:30 am, respectively. I attended the Student Affairs Committee meeting, where we heard an overview of how students are placed into University housing, including information about what students are told from the outset, the restrictions and policies, etc. The Official Guide to Living on Campus has a lot of details for students, from rules and policies to local convenience stores and a list of all the restaurants and retailers in Lexington that take the Plus Account.

 

This next bit was not a highlight of any presentation, but rather something that just stood out for me. I was skimming the Official Guide to Living on Campus and saw the heading “Feeling Ill? Order a Comfort Meal.” I didn’t know that students had access to this kind of service. The collaboration, between University Health Services and Dining Services, provides students with flu-like symptoms the ability to call and order a meal delivered to their residence hall room. The meal is of clear liquids and/or foods best tolerated based on recommended guidelines for flu-like symptoms. I just thought that was cool. There was also a presentation on how student complaints are handled, as well as an update on Student Government Association activities.

 

The last committee meeting of the morning was the Finance Committee. There was a slew of Finance Committee Reports (either consent or action items) that ran the gamut from a very generous estate bequest (from an individual who had already donated $5 million to UK), to the request to move forward with Phase II-B of the housing initiative with Education Reality Trust (EdR), to infrastructural repairs, to the approval to purchase the facilities and space currently owned by the Lexington Theological Seminary. All of the agenda items are inherently related to UK, but in the interest of choosing “the” most interesting aspect, I’ll mention more about the Lexington Theological Seminary (LTS) item.

 

UK has engaged in intermittent discussions with LTS for several years about the purchase of the property. (LTS is located on South Limestone Street, across from the Law Building. Here is a link to a Google map LTS: http://tinyurl.com/nl8zobn) As may be inferred by the duration of negotiations, this is a friendly acquisition – UK’s purchase of the physical space and facilities will allow LTS the opportunity to identify a different, smaller location that better suits their current needs. (LTS has moved aggressively to expand its online delivery of courses and programs. It will continue as an active educational institution in a different, smaller facility and location.) UK will take possession of the space and facilities in January 2014, when it is very likely that UK will use this space as “surge” space for those employees in the Gatton College of Business and Economics Building who will be temporarily displaced due to that building’s renovations.

 

We broke for lunch at noon and started up again at 1 pm. Since the 1 pm agenda is comprised primarily of committee agenda items, discussed above, I’ll stick to the reports from the President. (Those are the only things that weren’t otherwise discussed in a committee meeting.)

 

We had a first reading of changes to Governing Regulations I (“The University of Kentucky: Definition”) and Governing Regulations X (“Regulations Affecting Employment”) regarding nepotism. The changes are intended to offer a more concise definition; strengthen the statement that nepotism is prohibited; and codify specific criteria for approval of a situation in which one relative employed by UK is working under the direction/control of another. Previously, there was a list of specific titles/positions that required Board approval for nepotism conflict management plans. Any time a new position was created or removed, however, the regulations would be out of date. The new language simply states (among other things) that anyone who is a direct report of the President and has a nepotistic conflict with a relative working within their area must have the management plan approved by the Board. There have been unwritten standards used for quite some time to manage faculty nepotistic relationships in the workplace, but staff were often told simply that the individual would not be hired. The revised language now includes criteria that must be met for any such conflict for faculty AND staff. Generally, the criteria involve assurance that the conflict can be managed and that the employment of both individuals is in the best interest of the University.

 

The next Governing Regulation change we heard also pertained to Governing Regulations I (“The University of Kentucky: Definition”) and a new Governing Regulations XIV (“Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct”). This involved moving the Ethical Principles and Code of Conduct from GR I to the new GR XIV, so that the language is strengthened by being its own section. There were also some editorial and structural changes. This was a second and final reading – the changes were approved.

 

Following that was a second reading for a proposed change to Governing Regulations V (“The Staff Senate”). There were a handful of changes, including allowing the President to delegate appropriate administrative or managerial functions to the Staff Senate; clarifying that senators are expected to attend a variety of meetings as a part of senatorial duties; and stating unequivocally that supervisors “shall make reasonable accommodations” to facilitate a senator’s participation in the Staff Senate.

 

There were, of course, additional items for discussion or voting at the meeting, but I covered the vast majority of them in the committee summaries. If you have a question about something I haven’t mentioned, please feel free to ask me. I have been here for almost 20 years and I learn something new at every Board meeting.

 

It is an honor to represent staff – we are the largest, hardest working group around. Our personal and departmental initiatives welcome students, comfort patients and families, and inform our communities on too many topics to mention. If you have any questions, complaints, concerns or suggestions, please contact me and let me know (ukstafftrustee@gmail.com / sbrothers@uky.edu / 257-5872).

 

Best regards,

Sheila

March 29
Blog Post for March 18 Board Meeting

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 - sbrothers@uky.edu or ukstafftrustee@gmail.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.

 

Thank you,

Sheila

February 06
Update for January 28, 2013 Board Meeting

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 (sbrothers@uky.edu / ukstafftrustee@gmail.com) or you can stop by my office in 202E Main Building.

 

Best regards,

Sheila Brothers

December 20
December 11, 2012 Board Meeting Update

Good morning, everyone. This is your regular post-Board meeting blog update and contains my opinions on the December 11, 2012 Board of Trustees meeting. The full agenda and supporting documentation is here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2012/dec/welcome.html.

 

I am not sure if I’ve mentioned this before, but I serve on three committees – the Athletics Committee, University Relations Committee and Human Resources Committee. Due to my position as Board Secretary, I am also the ex officio Secretary for the Executive Committee. All the Board’s committees, and their descriptions, can be found in Governing Regulations II, starting at the bottom of page five. http://www.uky.edu/regs/files/gr/gr2.pdf

 

The morning of the 11th began with a meeting of the Executive Committee. The Executive Committee reviewed draft language to change the committee structure of the Board of Trustees (Board) and moved to continue forward with the changes. There are a handful of proposed changes, but the main one will be to combine a few committees. Trustees generally attend Board committee meetings all morning on days when the Board meets, but there are more and more situations when it is impossible to schedule all the committee meetings in such a way that there is no overlap. For example, there have been times when I was late for one committee meeting (of which I was a member) because I was finishing up in another committee meeting (of which I was also a member). Although the full Board may have a first reading in January or February, the proposed changes will go to the Staff Senate, Student Government Association (SGA) and University Senate prior to any final (second reading) vote by the Board.

 

The next meeting I attended was the Student Affairs Committee, where attendees heard an informative presentation about the Students of Concern Committee (SOC). The mission of the SOC is to proactively enhance the well-being and safety of the University's students and employees. There are a number of areas involved with the SOC on an as-needed basis, including the Academic Ombud, UK Police, the Financial Ombud, and the Counseling Center. You can find out more about this group at their web page (http://www.uky.edu/StudentAffairs/students-of-concern.php). It is reassuring to know this group is working very hard to keep campus safe and help students succeed, when a student is facing one or many challenges.

 

University Relations Committee was my next stop. We heard an interesting presentation from Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Michael Karpf, regarding the efforts toward (and subsequent results of) improving the UK HealthCare brand. We have come a long way regarding the perception of our health care facilities. In 2006, 25% of employees would not recommend UK HealthCare. Due in part to great strides in improving efficiency and patient satisfaction, by 2012 that number had dropped to less than 10%. UK’s Chandler Hospital also was recognized this year as the number one hospital in Kentucky.

 

The Athletics Committee reviewed the second reading of the proposed change to Governing Regulations II, regarding the threshold for reviewing capital construction projects. There were no objections to increasing the threshold to $600,000. (For more details, please see my blog post for the Board meeting on October 14, specifically the Athletics Committee discussion.)

 

The Board meeting itself was routine with no surprises. The Staff Senate and University Senate sponsored an informal meet-n-greet for senators, administrators and trustees immediately following the meeting. It was well attended and served as a great opportunity for staff to interact with trustees, and for trustees to see first-hand the wide variety of duties that staff perform, and perform very well, all across campus.

 

I feel like I write the same thing at the end of every blog post, but they are still true and still relevant. Thus, I can say I remain honored to serve you and I hope you will not hesitate to contact me if I can be of assistance in any way. You can reach me via email (sbrothers@uky.edu / ukstafftrustee@gmail.com), by phone (257-5872) or you can stop by my office in 202E Main Building.

 

May you enjoy the next few weeks, however or whatever you celebrate, and may you return to campus in the new year rested, relaxed and ready for spring!

 

Sheila

October 19
October Board Activities - Retreat and Meeting

Good morning, everyone. Here is your regular post-Board meeting blog update. This one is a little different, though – the Board met for a retreat on Saturday, October 13 and then held a Board meeting on Sunday, October 14 (meeting agenda here: http://www.uky.edu/Trustees/agenda/full/2012/oct/welcome.html). Below are the highlights from the weekend from my perspective. I was tempted to apologize for the length of this blog, but it necessarily covers about 16 hours of meetings on Saturday and Sunday. Therefore, this is a long post.

 

The retreat began at 9:30 am on Saturday with general discussions about planning and metrics; 2011 Board retreat recap and progress; and strengths and challenges for a 21st century land grant and flagship research University. We continued our discussions through lunch. Afterwards, we heard presentations and discussions on the following: continued discussion & future direction for learning, research, University and community; discussion of current status and future direction of UK HealthCare; and a preview for the bus tour of new residence hall sites and University neighborhoods.

 

After each section, trustees had opportunities to ask questions and engage in discussions about a variety of topics. All our comments were written down; overnight (through the assistance of hardworking staff) someone grouped our varied comments into overarching themes. First thing on Sunday morning, we were given a presentation that showed a draft with six bullet points. We discussed them and made a few tweaks. Again, through the efforts of staff, we were presented with finalized six bullet points a few hours later just prior to the beginning of the Board meeting.

 

Below are the Board’s guiding principles goals for the President and the campus for the 2012-13 year.

 

·         Continuing emphasis on undergraduate education and infrastructure (campus core); and

 

·         Strengthening mechanisms for faculty and staff recruitment, rewards, and retention; and

 

·         Conducting an assessment of what constitutes a strong environment for research, creative scholarship, and graduate and professional education; and

 

·         Continuing the development and introduction of the values-based financial model that aligns revenues and expenses to meet the University’s mission, and ensure that individual units develop strategic plans in alignment with the University’s overall strategic planning process; and

 

·         Developing a plan for implementing innovative, technology-rich content delivery to address needs in a constantly changing learning environment; and

 

·         Continuing to develop a master plan that creates a 21st century living and learning environment and is sensitive to community concerns.

 

It is important that the Board continue to emphasize the needs of staff; asking the President to focus some of his energies on recruiting, rewarding and retaining staff is a wonderful step forward (second bullet, above).

 

We spent a lot of time on Saturday talking about technology and learning. Many trustees expressed interest in learning how UK plans to leverage available and future technology for our academic mission. We heard about MOOCs (massively open online courses) and how those are being used at some institutions. I was interested to learn that no one has yet identified a business plan for how MOOCs can be used – institutions are experimenting with them without knowing exactly how they will affect an institution’s finances. In addition, the student completion rates of some MOOCs are woefully low – less than 15%. We also heard about “flipped” courses, where the lecture is taped ahead of time and students watch it on their own time (as pre-class homework) and then spend time in the classroom interacting more closely with the instructor.  

 

In the late afternoon on Saturday, trustees and a few others took a bus tour of the neighborhoods around campus to illustrate some of the issues facing campus neighborhoods. Most of us had never visited the areas around Aylesford Place and State Street. As part of the informational tour, we were asked to notice the number of houses with vinyl boxes built off the back of the house to allow landlords to house more students in each house. Another item of interest (unfortunately) was the rather dilapidated nature of many of the houses’ exterior facades and yards.

 

I learned that there are some neighborhoods around campus that are a nice mixture of single-family homes and student-rented houses. Unfortunately, there are also some neighborhoods that are made up almost entirely of rental dwellings. It’s not so much that there are large numbers of students, but rather that the houses for students to rent have been modified to the point that they do not structurally “fit” into the neighborhood as a whole. Other issues of concern are box-shaped apartment buildings in the middle of some neighborhoods, front yards and back yards that have been paved over for parking, and more than a few wooden stairways that serve as fire escapes. Student Government Association President Stephen Bilas (student trustee) graciously offered some personal insights into the student housing situation. Some Board members were stunned to learn there were five, six, or more students living in some very rundown houses. Trustee Bilas also explained that students can be taken advantage of by landlords – if a student has a complaint, it is a relatively simple matter for the landlord to “wait out” a student by just not responding to a concern. One anecdote had to do with a student who paid an extra month’s rent by mistake – when the student tried to get his money back after moving out, the landlord just ignored him. Bilas' comments were very timely and helped me understand more about the various concerns about student housing off campus.

 

We also saw the explosion of new student housing off Red Mile Road and Angliana Avenue. I hadn’t realized that those complexes, while nice and new, present their own problems – they are miles away from grocery stores, etc., and they are just far enough away from campus that students cannot walk to campus. Trustee Bilas mentioned that students in this particular area are left with the choice of driving to campus, or walking and taking unsafe shortcuts (crossing major roadways, walking along railroad tracks, etc.).  It was good to know that UK is taking its relationships with local neighborhood associations seriously; UK has conducted 13 meetings so far with various associations and has plans for more. The President said more than once that he is committed to working with multiple groups, including the Mayor, to address the challenges.

 

The Board held its regular October meeting on Sunday; the day started off with the recap I mentioned above, followed by committee meetings and then the full Board meeting.

 

Sunday Morning Committee Activities

The Nominating Committee identified two trustees to serve on the Mining Engineering Foundation and the Research Foundation Board of Directors.

 

The Audit Subcommittee discussed the University’s external audit, an annual activity in which UK’s external auditor renders a report on UK’s financial statements. For this year, and for many consecutive years, the external auditor reported that UK’s financial statements fairly present the financial position of the University. Essentially, it means that the University’s financial statements are good representations of how the University uses its funds.

 

Because of the importance and reputation of UK Athletics, the Audit Subcommittee, in conjunction with the assistance of the Athletics Committee chair, has begun the practice of requesting a separate audit for UK Athletics. There were no activities or suspicions that anything was wrong in Athletics. The only impetus for this is to ensure that Athletics receives appropriate scrutiny because of the importance of that unit and the dissolution of the UK Athletics Association. The scope of the audit for the University as a whole encompasses $2.4 billion in revenues for 2012. Revenues for Athletics are approximately $92 million, or 3% of the total. It would be difficult to identify the relatively small components of Athletics if that information was wrapped up in a report on UK’s overall net assets of $2.7 billion. Therefore, a decision was made to have a separate audit of Athletics to ensure their financial statements are easily visible.

 

There was also a report from Internal Audit on their activities for the past year, as well as their plans for the coming year.

 

The Athletics Committee discussed two items. The first was a first reading of a proposed change to Governing Regulations II (“Governance of the University of Kentucky”), specifically the section on the Board’s Athletics Committee. Elsewhere in GR II, the threshold for the Board’s Finance Committee for reviewing capital construction projects is $600,000 or higher. For some reason, the threshold for Athletics capital construction in GR II is $400,000. The change we discussed was to increase the threshold to $600,000 to keep that in line with the language for the Finance Committee. The second reading for this GR change will be in December, after appropriate consultation with campus constituent groups.

 

Our second item of discussion dealt with the 2011 – 2012 financial statements from Athletics. Those were approved and recommended to the Board.

 

At the Finance Committee meeting, we heard a detailed presentation on Phase IIA of the residence hall project with Education Reality Trust (EdR). Trustees were given opportunities to ask questions about the proposed expansion in Phase IIA prior to the meeting, as well as during the Finance Committee. In a nutshell, Phase IIA involves the following:

 

·         Five new residence hall facilities – an “E”-shaped hall in the Blazer parking lot; an “h”-shaped hall built on the current site of the (old) Wildcat Lodge; an “L”-shaped hall to be built on the site of Haggin Hall once Haggin is demolished (referred to as Haggin II); and two halls to be built where Cooperstown buildings D and E currently are.

 

·         There will be a total of 2,317 new beds that will be ready for students in August 2014. As of August 2014, UK will have 7,675 beds, an increase of 1,703 beds over fall 2013. Although the number is increasing by “only” 1,703 beds, it’s important to remember that the facilities will be new and full of great amenities for students. As of now, the average age of our residence halls is about 50 years old.

 

·         LEED-Silver certification for all five new residence halls.

 

·         Geothermal energy at Haggin II. I didn’t realize this, but the cost of geothermal also involves land space – it takes roughly double the footprint of a building to be able to accommodate geothermal energy. Since our campus is rather landlocked without much extra surface space, Haggin II will be the only new residence hall in Phase IIA that has access to sufficient adjacent space to support geothermal energy.

 

Finally, the Board met in regular session around 1:45 pm. I was thrilled to have my first chance at a Board meeting to serve in an official capacity as elected Secretary. The duties are not overly weighty, but the knowledge that I earned the position through my interactions with trustees over the past two years, coupled with gaining and retaining their respect, was truly wonderful.

 

The Board meeting went rather quickly – we’d all had many opportunities to ask questions about the various agenda items. One other contributing factor to a speedy meeting was the very, very long day we spent on Saturday discussing issues pertinent to UK’s future. By Sunday afternoon, I know I was ready to finish up and head home.

 

Aside from informing staff about Board activities, this blog post also serves as my first attempt to reach all staff, and not rely on a variety of listservs. That is another wonderful milestone in efforts to ensure staff are well informed about what your staff trustee is up to!

 

I remain honored to serve staff as your representative to the Board. Please know you are welcome to contact me at any time, about any matter. You can reach me via email (sbrothers@uky.edu / ukstafftrustee@gmail.com), by phone (257-5872) or you can stop by my office in 202E Main Building.

 

With very best regards,

Sheila Brothers

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