Campus stock, Minerva Schneider
Campus stock, Minerva Schneider

During the Staff Senate meeting Monday, representatives from the three Strategic Planning workgroups provided updates from their respective areas.

The Great Places to Work workgroup is comprised of a number of subcommittees, including climate and culture; professional development; compensation, salary and benefits; onboarding, retention, recruitment, hiring and workflow; and transparency.

The Great Places to Learn workgroup is examining three questions to guide its work: what do we do well; how do we build on these successes; and what opportunities should we consider for the future.

The learn workgroup has held two meetings thus far to pore over data such as graduation and retention rates. The group will start meeting once every week to turn around the final report, which is due in May.

The Great Places to Invest workgroup is also considering those same three questions to guide discussions. An anonymous survey has been sent to senators asking for their input. 

A list of all three workgroups is now available on the Strategic Planning website here

Like the Faculty Senate before it, the Staff Senate reviewed a Values Statement that was created in the fall of 2017 under the Provost’s Budget Advisory Committee. The purpose of the statement is to ensure UofL’s values and principles drive budgetary decisions and not vice versa. The BAC has since been disbanded, but the senates have moved forward to approve the statement nonetheless to inform President Bendapudi about who we are as we go through the Strategic Planning process. The statement – available online – was approved by the Staff Senate. 

Carcyle Barrett led a discussion about the Staff Senate Bylaws. The document was originally created in 2016 and updates are currently under consideration. Beyond this initial discussion, the Bylaw changes will require three readings before a vote is held. The document as it exists now, with track changes, is available online

Brian Buford from HR provided an update on his new role aimed at leading new professional development opportunities for employees. He said this role aligns with the Great Places to Work objective and asked members of the senate to provide input on what they want to see to bring this goal to fruition. Senators provided feedback such as ensuring living wages are available for those who have been here the longest, supervisor training and offering professional development opportunities for employees across campus and not just those in departments that have bigger budgets.

“Professional development without an opportunity for advancement is hollow,” Chair John Smith said.

A kickoff to the new staff mentoring program will be held within the next week, Buford said. 

Bob Knaster and Gary Becker provided another update on parking and why rates are going up. Currently there are zero dollars in the budget for deferred maintenance budget, which is unsustainable. Becker said there should be about $1 million saved just for maintenance – not including surface lots. A discussion followed in which senators expressed their frustration over the rising costs of parking without getting a raise.

“I don’t care about the benchmark schools in the study. I care about UofL and effectively this is a pay cut,” one senator said.

“Leveraging employees out of parking spots is just wrong,” another senator said.

Knaster has previously noted that one of the worst decisions made was to not increase the cost of parking for six years. “Now we’re under water and playing catch up.” 

Other reports

The Student Government Association’s HSC lighting project is moving forward and the association has secured funding to further improvements across Preston Street downtown.

The Faculty Senate approved a distilled spirits certificate and endorsed the same values and principles statement as the Staff Senate. A new School of Music dean has been named, and a committee has been formed to update the university’s policy on consensual sexual relations. Both President Bendapudi and Provost Boehm provided updates to the Faculty Senate. The full report is online

Chair John Smith is serving on the Strategic Planning executive committee, which oversees the three workgroups – learn, work, invest. The most recent meeting involved reports from each workgroup identifying themes that emerged in their first meetings, as well as a discussion about the most effective ways to use funds from the Gheens Foundation gift.

Smith also noted that the tuition and fees committee is meeting on an accelerated pace to complete all charges by its deadline. The committee has reviewed or scheduled reviews for 22 different requests.

In the spirit of transparency, the HR salary website will be restored at President Bendapudi’s request. However, there were a number of inaccuracies found and Bendapudi wants those fixed before it goes live. She has appointed a group with reviewing that information. Smith’s full report is online

Secretary-treasurer Rhonda Gilliland’s report is online. The senate spent just $17 last month on new name tags.

Marian Vasser’s Vice Chair report is available online. She also noted that information from the climate survey is being considered a part of the “Great Places to Work” committee.

Committee reports are available online. Of note, 2019 senate seats are expiring and interested senators need to re-apply if their seat is up. If their seat is not up for expiration, senators have been asked to re-apply anyway to ensure information is current. The application deadline is April 15. Officer nominations will be held at the May meeting, voting will be held at the June meeting and senators will be announced in July.

The next Staff Senate meeting is April 8 in Chao Auditorium.

Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is the director of social media and digital content. She joined UofL in 2015 as director of communications at the Brandeis School of Law. She also serves as a senior contributor at, writing about the restaurant industry, which she has covered since 2010. Her work has been featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine.