UofL’s Faculty Senate convened Wednesday in Chao Auditorium for a two-part meeting – the first of which included committee elections for the 2017-18 school year, and the second for a regular meeting that included presentations from both interim president Greg Postel and interim provost Dale Billingsley.
Election results for Faculty Senate officers are as follows:
Enid Trucios-Haynes, Chair
Krista Wallace-Boaz, Vice Chair
Roger Bradshaw, Executive Committee
Academic Programs Committee: Rob Barker, Dno Demuth, Jasmine Farrier
Committee on Committees and Credentials: Dwayne Buttler, Susan Peacock
Part-Time Faculty Committee: Tim Crawford and Mary Makris (tie)
Planning and Budget Committee: Reg Bruce, David Owen
Redbook Committee: Beth Willey
Academic Technology Committee: Murali Ankem
Parking Advisory Committee: Tom Simmons
Staff Senate Rep: Avery Kolers
Student Conduct Hearing Board: Elizabeth Grossi, Martin Hall
Student Grievance Committee: Lynn Boyd, Robert Detmering
Dr. Billingsley provided a number of updates to the Faculty Senate, including news that the 2018 budget is where it needs to be at this time. UofL will host three public workshops in May prior to the next Board of Trustees meeting, which will allow for feedback before the full, final budget is presented to the board in June.
Each unit has and will continue to be informed monthly of their progress on deficit reduction. The budget committee has been expanded to include Faculty and Staff Senate representation, among others.
The search for a new ombudsman has been reduced to three finalists. A final recommendation will be made to the provost on May 17.
Dean searches continue as well. Colin Crawford has been named the new dean of the Brandeis School of Law, pending board approval, and will begin Jan. 1. Law professor Lars Smith will fill the role in the interim. A new search for the Speed School dean will begin in the fall with “an aggressive timeline.” Gail DePuy will take on the acting dean role in the interim. Finally, the School of Nursing dean search will begin in the fall.
SACS work, according to Billingsley, is moving forward as usual, with nothing new to report.
From the enrollment front, applications and admissions are up 11 percent compared to last year. Students, surveys have shown, are not deterred by the SACS accreditation status. Underrepresented minority student numbers and mentored scholarship numbers are both strong at this point.
UofL is currently exploring a winter online session, but there is no follow up news to report at this time. The University of Kentucky has such a program and has generated thousands of registrations throughout the past few years.
There are two policies faculty should be diligent about due to either SACS or federal requirements – posting syllabi on Blackboard prior to the course and posting book orders before the first day of registration.
“These aren’t just a requirement by SACS and the federal government. They’re also a benefit to students,” Billingsley said.
Finally, Billingsley encouraged faculty to attend graduation next week, stating it is “an important year for students to know their teachers are there to support them.”
Dr. Postel opened his remarks by expressing appreciation to faculty for another successful semester. He also provided an update from the latest CPE meeting in Frankfort, including the growing recognition of deferred maintenance on state campuses across Kentucky, estimated to be around $8 billion.
“We have been giving attention to that at UofL and have been looking at ways to put in requests to the state to consider a bond issue of some kind to help defray the cost of deferred maintenance on this campus,” Postel said. Other campuses agree and they are looking at perhaps a larger, coordinated request for a bond issue that is partly, “hopefully,” funded by the state, and partly funded by donors.
“This is the state’s property and at some point they have to understand how it’s going to be maintained, so I thought that was an interesting conversation,” Postel said.
Another point was brought up about the state’s budget, which was about $113 million behind what was anticipated for Q3, or just over 1 percent, for the general funds budget. Things could change for Q4 to get the budget back in line. However, if that doesn’t happen, the governor has the ability to use about 25 percent of the rainy day fund to heal the general funds shortfall. This would still leave a deficit of about $60 million, which could potentially threaten the higher education budget. Postel said they will be watching this closely and will know more in the next few weeks.
Postel noted some positive news from UofL, including production of the state’s only Truman Scholar, the multiplicity of Fulbright Scholars and the success from the athletics programs. Additionally, he noted success with recruitment for hiring the law school dean, the new CFO of the HSC campus and the new director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.
Coming up, Postel expects May and June to continue to be busy, courtesy of the initial budget presentation to the Board of Trustees on May 18, and with two “big announcements” coming out within the first two weeks of June – the NCAA ruling on the men’s basketball team and the UofL Foundation forensic audit report.
“Both of these will attract a lot of media attention regardless of the outcomes,” he said.
Also, June will mark the final days for Kentucky One Health’s management of UofL Hospital, which will revert back to UMC management on July 1.
“This is a really big deal,” Postel said. “There are literally hundreds of people working on this transition. It is a good thing for UofL. Management will be focused on gaining efficiencies like never before and profitability will be able to better sustain all of our activities on the HSC campus.”
Postel also touched upon the budget process, saying it is “starting to get to a point where we’re about ready to conclude and begin presentations for the board for their deliberations and hopefully approval.
“It has been a tough process, but we have had incredible involvement and a lot of help from deans and faculty and staff on both campuses.”
Postel said everyone involved in the process has been focused on minimizing the impact on employees and programming. Opportunities have been located within the operations of the university, where we have modernized and become more efficient, which has saved us close to $20 million for the 2017-18 year.
“The beauty of this is it is done without the loss of jobs, it enhances functionality, and it also saves us money in the next year and also in the ongoing years,” Postel said. “We are now trying to create a budget not just to get the budget approved, but to build on the budget in future years.”
Postel added that we are holding firm on avoiding mass RIFs and programmatic closures and that the hiring frost may not be as widespread as initially predicted.
“We don’t want to ever live through this kind of process again. This is not the kind of process that builds long-term stability and growth,” he said. “We now have to sharply turn our focus to revenue generation and that will be through the medical complex, a better and larger UofL hospital, through a revised approach to development, and also a focus on a strategic plan of future.
“We’ve lived through this process and we’re going to be OK, but I don’t want anybody to think I’m happy about having to go through this.”
The Faculty Senate meeting also included the Redbook Committee’s second readings of the Speed School Personnel Policy and Procedures and the Kent School Bylaws, both of which passed.
There was no report from the Student Government Association.
The Staff Senate reported that its elections are coming up – June 12. The body has also created two new ad hoc committees, one focused on strategic plans and bylaws, and the other on presidential qualities.
Standing committee reports include:
Academic Programs: The committee is exploring a new BS in interdisciplinary studies, focused on neuroscience. Members are not ready for a report at this time.
Part-time Faculty: Report available online.
Executive Committee: Report available online.
Faculty Athletic Representative: Report online.
Faculty Senate’s next meeting is June 7 at 3 p.m. on the HSC campus. The location will be announced later.