During Wednesday’s meeting, Faculty Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes provided the Faculty Senate with some commentary behind the presidential search process that led to the hiring of Dr. Neeli Bendapudi as UofL’s 18th president.
Trucios-Haynes said she remains “unsettled” about the search process, but added that none of the top candidates, with the exception of internal candidates, would agree to an open search/interview process. She added that Bendapudi was her top choice out of the 50 candidates.
“I am so delighted that she wants to be here,” Trucios-Haynes said. “And that she’s the first woman and person of color to lead our school speaks out loud to our commitment to diversity and inclusion. I could not be more pleased with this choice.”
The Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution thanking Dr. Greg Postel for his interim leadership during a challenging time at UofL.
In other news, Trucios-Haynes reported that the UofL Foundation has agreed to add constituency trustees to its board. The bylaws were amended at the end of March indicating that the Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and SGA will now be represented on the ULF board.
Senators discussed the budget bill in Frankfort and its implications for program closure. A draft of guidelines for program closure was presented by the senate APC and P&B committees, led by David Owen and Jasmine Farrier. The two circumstances proposed to cause closure are financial exigency and the “result of academic considerations.”
“In both cases, we believe faculty deliberation and governance must place a central role in the decision-making process since the faculty possess the requisite expertise to judge the academic value of a program,” the guidelines read.
As Farrier notes, these proposed guidelines are not new. “This is just a collection of procedures that already exist.”
“The goal is to have something concrete so that we have the ability to determine the process internally,” Trucios-Haynes said. The committee will work with the executive committee to update language in the draft and a vote is anticipated during the May meeting.
Trucios-Haynes said a statement has also been drafted by the Kentucky Coalition of Senate & Faculty Leaders strongly opposing any budget bill provision that would permit the summary dismissal of tenured faculty. This draft will also be brought to the executive committee for refinement.
Interim Provost Dale Billingsley provided an update from his office, including an announcement that his last day in that role is June 1. Beth Boehm, dean of SIGS, will fill the interim provost role until the search process concludes, which is anticipated by January 2019.
Billingsley strongly urged the Faculty Senate to document what went wrong during the presidential search process to avoid these types of issues in the future.
He also provided an overview of the SACS visit in March, which was “a normal accreditation visit.” He said the visit was “very positive,” including a SACS endorsement of UofL’s QEP program. UofL did receive two recommendations from the accrediting body – the first in regards to the transcripting of transfer work and the other in response to the university’s financial stability after a downgrade in bond ratings. UofL has until September to address these recommendations.
Billingsley chimed in on HB 200 about program closures, mentioning he attended a graduate school that had an extinct languages program with five professors and no students.
“Culturally, it’s a threat to say there are certain types of knowledge we don’t need to know anymore. Declaring that bodies of knowledge are no longer useful is dangerous,” he said, noting that someone once declared, “physics is dead.”
Two dean searches continue and Billingsley said he hopes the Speed School dean will be named within the next two weeks. Nursing is down to three finalists. There are three decanal reviews this year – SIGS, Music and SPHIS.
The ombudsman job is posted and will be filled “hopefully” by July. Finally, Rhonda Bishop has been named the new VP of Enterprise, Risk Management and Compliance and she starts later this month.
In other news, the Redbook committee passed revised bylaws, and the committee on committees and credentials is looking for nominations. There are currently three vacancies on the committee. Elections will be held during the May meeting.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is May 2 in Chao Auditorium.