UofL’s Faculty Senate reconvened Sept. 4 after an August hiatus. A number of new senators were introduced to kick off the school year.

Michael Wade Smith, chief of staff and external affairs, provided an update on the Strategic Plan, recently approved in principle by UofL’s board of trustees. Smith said the plan includes the strategy and metrics we’re going to hold ourselves accountable to, which will guide our actions significantly for the next three years.

“The secret sauce for us behind this plan is how we make this a great place to learn, work and invest,” he said.

For the “learn” piece, for example, one strategy includes attracting and graduating the most talented, diverse student body through meaningful and structured commitment to student success. That includes actions like attracting and enrolling a capable, diverse and engaged student body responsive to the demographic and workforce needs of the future; improving retention and persistence to graduation; ensuring progress toward equal outcomes for student sub-populations; and inspiring a “student-centered culture.”

“Also, we’re going to lean heavily into the benefit of being a Research 1 university and, as we grow our research prominence, doing so with our students in mind,” Smith said.

Metrics include increasing scholarship awards, enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

For the “work” piece, Smith said the biggest focus is on professional development and, over time, creating a culture based on Cardinal principles. We will also be working on a total compensation study, knowing we’re under market for salaries.

“We aren’t going to get there in three years because what we need to catch up is larger than we can handle. But we have to start taking meaningful steps to solve the gap and I hope you’ll hold us accountable for making meaningful progress,” he said.

Another directive from the strategic plan is to focus on a handful of key topics that make us unique; for example that UofL is one of just 69 schools in the country that is both a Research 1 university and  Carnegie-designated for community engagement.

“We want to own four to six areas that are broad enough for multiple disciplines, but are specific enough for us to focus on,” Smith said, citing aging as an example.

Speed professor Gail DePuy has been tasked with heading the implementation of the Strategic Plan. A committee will be populated to help her, reporting progress updates regularly. There will be Strategic Plan kickoff events announced soon.

The search is underway for a new EVP of Research and Innovation, and Smith expects this to be filled by October. An RFP is out to help with the provost and general counsel searches. These positions should be filled by next summer at the latest.

Smith also discussed the recent KentuckyOne Health announcement, in which UofL agreed to acquire its assets, including Jewish Hospital. Smith said the vote will be finalized in Frankfort in January and confessed it will take some work to get 16 senators on board.

“Our acquisition of KentuckyOne Health was not contingent on government funding. No one in the administration will say this is without risk. But the risk of not doing the deal would have sunk the university. The risk of doing the deal would not sink the university,” he said.

Teresa Reed, the new School of Music dean, was introduced to the senate. She said her priorities include interdisciplinary opportunities – for example, music therapy with a jazz track – and student success.

Provost Beth Boehm provided an update on the one-time money that went toward recruiting and retaining students. She said 57 projects in total have been funded and most of them have shown real progress so far, including a summer camp that was held for out of state students prior to Welcome Week.

There are three new committee needs that have been identified: an advising task force, which will look at best practices on how to improve student advising; student mental health; and the IBM implementation committee.

Finally, Todd Kneale, director of total rewards, provided an update on health insurance rates, which are increasing in 2020. Ahead of open enrollment, Oct. 23-Nov. 6, HR will host a number of town halls to provide an overview of these changes.

Additional actions taken

Also during the meeting, the revised CEHD bylaws were approved, while the certificate in Teaching English as an International Language and MS in Couples and Family Therapy program proposals were approved.

Committee elections took place. Karen Hadley from A&S, fills the academic programs committee vacancy; Kimberly Boland, Medicine, will fill the executive committee vacancy; Jocelyn Fetalver, Kent School, fills the part-time faculty committee vacancy; and Joe Gutmann, A&S, Chad Sloan, Music, Brecya Washington, Dentistry, and Roman Yampolskiy, Speed, fill the student conduct hearing board vacancies.

Sabrina Collins from the SGA, provided an update from her group, noting that there are two major initiatives underway – improving scholarship publicity and creating an RSO to facilitate undergraduate research.

The next Faculty Senate meeting is Oct. 2 at 3 p.m. in CTR Room 101/102 on the HSC Campus.

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 Forbes.com, 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.