UofL’s Faculty Senate met Jan. 11 in Chao Auditorium, where the main topic for discussion was how to rectify the university’s probationary accreditation status after Senate Bill 12 was written into law by Governor Matt Bevin the weekend prior.
The discussion was led by Senate Chair Enid Trucios-Haynes, with Interim Provost Dale Billingsley providing additional color to the discussions taking place in Frankfort. The State Senate is currently in recess until February, however Billingsley noted that the newly-drafted legislation, Senate Bill 107, which would supersede Senate Bill 12, is “headed in the right direction.”
Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers has asked representatives from UofL and other state schools (including administration and faculty) for assistance in refining the bill so that it protects these institutions from accreditation jeopardy. SB 107 would also bring the Board of Trustees number back up to 17 members – versus 10 members in SB 12 – and three constituents from Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and SGA.
The new bill is still under review. Billingsley noted that much of these “refinement” discussions take place informally. Senators asked if a UofL lobbyist could speak at the next meeting to explain the process.
“Several of us have been talking to legislators throughout the past month to make sure we’re doing what we need to do,” Billingsley said.
Faculty senators agreed to continue discussion about SB 107 and provide recommendations for the legislators before the State Senate reconvenes. A follow up meeting with this objective will be held Jan. 18.
Billingsley also said that the appointment of an acting president, to replace current acting president Neville Pinto, who is leaving for the president’s role at the University of Cincinnati in February, will be the first priority of the new Board of Trustees.
“Continuity and stability are some of the issues SACS has about our leadership and we intend on addressing that soon. Everybody on all sides of this issue believes they are working in the best interests of the university,” Billingsley said.
Report: Acting President Neville Pinto
Pinto spoke briefly to the Faculty Senate, thanking them for their support while he navigated both the interim provost and acting president roles at UofL. Prior to joining the UofL Speed faculty, Pinto was at UC from 1993 to 2011.
“It has been a tremendous honor to be in a leadership position at this university. These past 5 ½ years I would not exchange for anything else. This was a very challenging decision for me. I doubt any other institution would have pulled me away,” Pinto said.
Pinto added that UofL is in need of a fresh start.
“I think the air here has finally cleared and that includes me. My advice to you is to push forward with a focus on the fundamentals,” he said, noting that the 21st Century University Initiative is a “terrific template” to keep faculty and staff engaged and excited. He especially focused on the student success, research, diversity and inclusion and financial components of the plan.
“We have to ensure every student has an environment supportive of their learning. We have to listen to them and believe what they say,” Pinto said noting diversity and inclusion is one of the most important aspects of University life that requires attention. “As for the financial environment, we are going through a difficult period. It is a short-term pain. And for the accreditation issues, we are going down the right path to resolve the probation status. I think of everything that’s going on now as a perfect Category 5 storm and we will be stronger than ever when we come out of it.”
Pinto received a standing ovation from the faculty senators when he was done speaking.
Report: Interim Provost Dale Billingsley. Billingsley also provided a report from the Provost’s Office. This includes personnel updates: David Adams, currently CEO of the Institute for Product Realization, will, effective immediately, assume responsibilities as interim chief administrative officer. This position has been created to effectively and stably manage administrative and financial functions through current and upcoming leadership transitions in the offices of the CFO/COO and the Office of the President.
Upon the recent departure of Harlan Sands, the CFO and COO roles have been separated. Susan Howarth, vice provost and chief university budget officer, will take on the additional role of interim chief financial officer. Lee Smith, assistant vice president for performance improvement/business analytics, will take on the additional role of interim chief operating officer, overseeing the offices of Business Services, Facilities Management, Information Technology and Public Safety.
The salary equity adjustments will be made by the end of January. About 400 staff will receive a notice from HR about these adjustments. Faculty affected will receive notice from their deans.
Billingsley also touched upon the budget process, which he said will be fairly simple this year due to no tuition increase and no expected increase in state money. A budget will be developed by a “community as a whole, including faculty and staff senator input, SGA input, input from deans and unit budget directors.”
He also noted that due to the stagnant tuition rate, enrollment growth will be a key to UofL’s success this year. The focus will be on the College of Business and the Speed School.
“There’s a call for more engineers in the marketplace and we’d like to answer that call,” he said.
There is an active dean search underway for the Brandeis School of Law and the Speed School. The job description for the ombudsman has been finalized and that will be a national search.
In other business:
The Redbook Committee provided updates on first readings for the Speed School Bylaws and Dental School Bylaws. The Speed School changes entail the composition of some committees, while the Dental School changes include an appendix to include the newly-created Diversity Committee.
SGA report: Meredith Cooksey provided an update on the SGA, which had not yet met for the spring semester at the time of the Faculty Senate meeting. Cooksey reported there was an increase in course evaluation feedback and the SGA is gearing up for elections, held in February. SGA President Aaron Vance has spent a lot of time in Frankfort lobbying for UofL, and Cards in Action, a student lobbying group, has also picked up activity. The Board of Student Body Presidents of Kentucky is planning a combined rally in Frankford on Feb. 13.
Staff Senate: The Staff Senate did not meet in January.
Faculty Senate Chair: Trucios-Haynes provided an update, including a statement she recently sent to Governor Bevin and Kentucky Senate President Robert Stivers, as well as other state leaders. It reads:
Dear Governor Bevin and Members of the Kentucky State Legislature:
As faculty at the University of Louisville responsible for the teaching, research and service mission of this important state institution, we are justifiably and seriously concerned about continued threats to the accreditation that is necessary for student access to federal loans and faculty access to many federal grants, the continued accreditation of our professional schools, and the University’s participation in NCAA athletics. We are alarmed by any political actions that further threaten the University’s current probationary status with accreditors and create additional uncertainty.
SACS compliance is of critical importance to the University of Louisville. We call on the Governor and Kentucky State Legislature to do what is needed to maintain SACS accreditation. The University needs the support of our community, alumni, business leaders, and elected officials so we can continue to focus on our core mission– educating students, creating new knowledge through research, and serving and engaging our community. This vital mission must be the priority for the benefit of our students and our state.
Respectfully submitted, Enid Trucios-Haynes
Standing committee reports:
Academic Programs: N/A
Committee on Committees and Credentials: N/A
Part-time Faculty: Report is available online
Planning and Budget Committee: Did not meet
Executive Committee: Report is available online
Faculty Athletic Representative: Professor Elaine Wise, Faculty Athletics representative, provided the following report:
In the glow of Lamar Jackson’s Heisman Trophy, I have written to congratulate him on behalf of the faculty. Since my November report, the NCAA has released its annual GSR (Graduation Success Rate) Report. We continue to climb but do have quite a way to rise to be in line with our ACC peers. The Committee on Academic Performance continues to monitor student athlete success and to promote and propose policies that will benefit both student-athletes and the entire student population. To that end, CAP has recommended data collection on a number of issues that seem to plague college athletics and has been researching best practices and processes that safeguard academic integrity. Too, we are recommending review of policies that have had negative impact on the recruiting and graduating of our best and brightest student-athletes.
The next Faculty Senate meeting is Feb. 1 from 3-5 p.m. in the Chao Auditorium.