Faculty Senate met virtually on Wednesday, April 1, using the online video conferencing platform, Microsoft Teams.

President Neeli Bendapudi and Executive Vice President and Provost Beth Boehm joined the video call and gave numerous updates. President Bendapudi opened by saying, “I want to say thank you so much to all of you. I know it has been a lot of work for all faculty to step up and transition to remote instruction.”

She went on to explain that she spends the majority of her time in the following four areas: academics & research, healthcare delivery, athletics and government relations. She is working with local, state and federal authorities to make sure the university and hospitals are eligible for the stimulus package. A senate member expressed concern about potential layoffs and she responded, “We haven’t talked about layoffs or cancellations today but know that it is my priority to make sure we take care of our people the best we can. We are already looking at options to see what we can do. This is a major, major challenge. We’re discussing the CARES act and how that makes us eligible for funding as well.”

Provost, Beth Boehm, spoke next and opened her report by saying, “I am also so grateful to you all just like Neeli, and I’m so proud of how this faculty has responded. I’ve had so many students say how kind and compassionate their faculty have been. “

Boehm shared a draft version of the upcoming summer academic policies and invited all senate members to send their feedback by Tuesday, April 7.

“I was very conscious of the fact that when we first created the pass-fail policy, that I was overriding some parts of shared governance. I do think it was needed. For the summer, we are going online and I have asked that for summer we resume our old policies,” she said.

Boehm reported that big committees such as the Student Well Being task force and the Free Speech group are still convening.

In response to a senate member’s concern about how faculty can prepare for the fall, Bohem said, “I think that the best thing we can do to prepare is to design good online courses. I have asked Gale Rhodes to develop more trainings. We’re going to have a lot of training for faculty for how to design a course for online teaching. Because it’s still uncertain, I think it’s about skilling up and learning how to do this in this new environment.” 

One senate member expressed concern about the potential decrease to enrollment. Boehm responded by saying, “We know that many students are already planning a gap year. We might have about a 20% decrease in enrollment. We are recruiting heavily both locally and regionally, we know that there are other students now in the area who may now want to enroll somewhere near home.  I encourage everyone to contribute to the Student Emergency Fund. We are running out of assistance for all the applications coming through. We know that this will also impact fall enrollment.”

Faculty Senate chair, Krista Wallace-Boaz, reported that the COVID 19 webpage has been updated on the university website for easier navigation. The March Board of Trustees meeting was rescheduled for April 3rd to facilitate an informal update session. There will be a formal BOT meeting at the end of April to discuss regular business items.

Wallace-Boaz also reported that due to a hiring freeze, numerous new positions and searches have been suspended, including leadership and full or part-time faculty positions. The searches for both the Provost and Dean for Arts & Sciences positions have been postponed to fall 2020. Students will be still be able to evaluate faculty on the online coursework they receive, however faculty may choose whether or not to include those evaluations in their future annual, tenure or promotion reviews. Read the full report online.

The Redbook Committee had a second reading on the revised bylaws for the School of Medicine. The Committee on Committee & Credential’s (CCC) made a motion to reschedule the Annual Election Meeting in May until campus reopens. Both committees took a virtual vote via Survey Monkey and both motions passed unanimously.

Student Government reported that students have appreciated the university’s response to COVID-19. Sabrina Collins, outgoing Academic Vice President, stated that students, “have been really, really happy overall.” SGA elections have concluded and a new AVP will be transitioning into the role as Collins prepares to take her newly elected seat as President in the upcoming year. She introduced the incoming AVP, Ben Barberie, who is a junior majoring in political science and economics.

Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the UofL Foundation, Keith Sherman, gave an update on the foundation. He reported that despite how much COVID-19 has impacted the stock market, he remains cautiously optimistic. His full presentation is available online.

Committee reports can be accessed on the Faculty Senate meetings webpage

The next Faculty Senate meeting is May 6, via teleconference.