At its April 14 meeting, UofL’s Board of Trustees approved revisions to the plan that will combine more than 30 practice entities into one, effective Jan. 1, 2012. That entity, a not-for-profit organization operating under the name University of Louisville Physicians Inc., will serve as the umbrella for 16 not-for-profit subsidiaries, one for each unit at the medical school.

The practice plan has existed since the 1970s and has been amended several times over the years. Still the organization — which at one time included more than 60 separate practices — continued to rely on a complicated mix of units, becoming “increasingly cumbersome over time,” according to the board action.

Converting a “very decentralized group of practices” into a single plan will facilitate many efficiencies, said Larry Cook, executive vice president for health affairs. By operating under one umbrella organization, the groups will be able to take advantage of single-point contracting and purchasing, cut overhead expenses and reduce duplication in billing and collecting, he said.

More important, the single entity will improve care by offering “one-stop shopping” in which patients will work with an integrated network of physicians that will be able to more easily share information and work together for the patients’ benefit, Cook said.

Medical School Fund Inc., an organization consisting of the School of Medicine dean, chairs from each of the 16 units and three faculty members appointed by the dean, will oversee the practice plan.

The Jan. 1 effective date will allow time for reorganization among the various practice groups.

Also at the meeting, the board:

  • Approved John Cumbler, professor of history, as the 2011 Trustees Award winner. The award recognizes faculty for making “outstanding contributions to the student experience.” A student nominator praised Cumbler for approaching his teaching ?with a seriousness of purpose and a devotion to his students that are extremely rare. His approach is pedagogical, and curricular questions are driven by their effect on students, both as budding scholars and as whole people.” Cumbler will address graduates at the May Commencement ceremony. (UofL Today will publish a profile of Cumbler during Commencement week.)
  • Heard a presentation on a proposal to build a student recreation center on the west side of Belknap Campus. Student Government Association vice president Deep Aggarwal told the trustees the 128,000 square-foot center would include all-purpose courts, racquetball and squash courts, a weight room, meeting facilities and an outdoor, artificial-turf field. SGA included the rec center in its 2020 strategic plan and already has voted to approve a $98 per-semester student fee. UofL has begun to approach donors to provide financial support for its construction. Construction of the center could begin as early as this year, pending approval by the board and by the Council on Postsecondary Education.
  • Authorized Ramsey or his designee to enter into an agreement revising some provisions of a land use agreement with the J.B. Speed Art Museum to assist the museum’s expansion efforts. The museum plans to expand to property near the College of Business on which Robbins Hall sits.
  • Approved Angela Ford as the 2011 College of Arts and Sciences alumni fellow. UofL’s first female SGA president, Ford is a Lexington attorney. Her nomination credits her for helping expose “one of the biggest legal scandals in U.S. history — the theft of tens of millions of dollars from Kentuckians injured by the diet drug fen-phen.” Alumni fellows come to campus during homecoming week to speak to and meet with students, faculty and staff in their respective colleges.
  • Approved a change to the faculty grievance procedure in cases involving the provost. The provost reviews faculty grievance decisions, except those in which she is named as respondent. In that case, the Board of Trustees reviews them. Today’s action changes that. The change authorizes the president to designate an appropriate administrator to receive and act upon such grievances.
  • Saw a presentation by Provost Shirley Willihnganz that highlighted UofL’s commitment to financial aid for its students. UofL is providing more than $51.2 million in financial aid this year, including more than $27.2 million in general fund scholarships and grants to more than 5,600 undergraduate students. Departmental grants, endowment and gift awards and tuition remission for state-mandated programs and UofL employees and their families accounted for the other $24 million.