Campus stock, Minerva Schneider
Campus stock, Minerva Schneider

During the July 3 meeting, faculty senators received an update from Provost Beth Boehm, who attended the chief academic officer conference in Minnesota last month. One topic that Boehm is especially focused on from that conference is student mental health and faculty roles in helping our students.

She said 46% of our students report having a mental health issue, and 23% of those students did not get help.

“There are not enough counselors on our campus for this issue,” she said. “Faculty need to help. They need to know who needs help.”

Boehm said UofL can approach this issue in a few ways:

  • Creating a coalition of faculty allies
  • Training faculty, chairs and deans on signs to look for
  • Changing syllabus language to be more flexible or include how students can get help
  • Encouraging faculty to work with students on extensions if there are legitimate needs

“There are curricular issues that contribute to stress. Faculty need to pay attention to different learning styles. We need to get our aging faculty to understand that our students are different from us,” Boehm said.

Boehm added that many universities are now focused on well being versus just mental health. Also, Stanford University has a resiliency program required for all students.

“These are some things we’ll look at more,” she said. “It is important to get faculty involved because this is an important piece of student success.”

Additionally, Boehm said 57 proposals have been submitted to receive funding for recruitment and retention projects. An update will be available in September. A revenue target steering committee has been formed and is working with each unit to find additional revenue solutions. Boehm said the committee has been charged with reviewing what needs are a priority.

An enrollment management advisory committee has also been busy working to identify challenges and solutions. Both committees are critical now as the university continues to recover from a budget crisis.

Boehm said the bookstore has received nearly 90% of course adoptions so far, which is a big jump from this time last year. She thanked faculty for being more urgent with this, as these early orders benefit students.

Also during the meeting, Justin Mog, assistant to the provost for sustainability initiatives, provided an update from his department. Included in his report was an overview of the progress UofL has made to earn a STARS Gold rating.  

With a 66.24% score, UofL is the most sustainable school in Kentucky, ahead of No. 2 Berea College, with 65.95%. The next highest score was JCTC with 58.80%. In the ACC, UofL is fourth behind just Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Virginia.

Mog said his department is now working to achieve the next level – platinum. To do so, he outlined the following strategies, among many others:

  • Increase courses offered that are sustainability-focused or related.
  • Increase the number of students who graduate from programs that have adopted at least one sustainability-learning outcome.
  • Administer a sustainability literacy assessment to the student body.
  • Increase research-producing faculty and staff that are engaged in sustainability research.
  • Administer a longitudinal assessment of sustainability culture.
  • Get more staff to participate in annual sustainability professional development training.
  • Engage the entire student body in community service.
  • Re-join the Worker Rights Consortium or the Fair Labor Association.

Mog also noted that UofL has decreased its carbon footprint by 13%.

“We are decreasing emissions even as we are growing and that is great news. But we have a lot of work left to do,” he said.

A few faculty senators pressed Mog on why this work in particular is important and he said students are concerned about their future.

“They are wrestling with an existential crisis,” he said.

Mog’s full report is available online

Todd Kneale, director of total rewards, said a benefits design workgroup has been formed to ensure we’re getting the most efficient benefits.

“We have really good benefits and we want to make sure we maintain that. We spend over $60 million a year. By 2020, we expect that to be $70 million,” Kneale said. “There will be an increase but we don’t know what that means yet.”

In other news, Krista Wallace-Boaz provided a chair’s report, including a breakdown of the 2018-19 promotion and tenure statistics. They are available online. 

Two academic program proposals will be discussed at the next meeting – Teaching English as an International Language in CEHD and Family Therapy in the Kent School of Social Work.

The Faculty Senate will not meet in August. The next meeting is Sept. 4 in Chao Auditorium.

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.