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Faculty expressed desire to be ‘true partners’ with administration at UK


A University of Kentucky Senate Council meeting was held to discuss the next steps in the process of assessing the proposed changes to UK’s shared governance model.

UK President Eli Capilouto spoke with university senate members, faculty and staff attending the meeting on March 18, both in-person and on Zoom.

Through University Senate, Board of Trustees and smaller group meetings, Capilouto, according to a campus wide email, has spoken with “hundreds” of campus community members to discuss the future of UK and the shared governance structure of the university.

On March 18, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto met with the senate members, faculty, meeting and staff to discuss potential future changes to the UK shared governance structure. Video by Giana Gallo

Despite these discussions, some faculty members are feeling as though there is a disconnect between administration and faculty in understanding the willingness of working together.

“I think we’re more open to embracing change than you imagine and that if we are brought in as true partners, we can collaborate together to make changes,” Molly Blasing, associate professor of Russian studies, said.

Blasing also said the faculty is open to helping the administration in the process by examining their own practices and looking at senate rules. 

“We want to be involved in those conversations, we want you to engage the elected faculty representatives, the faculty leadership and senate council, the leaders that you have that are coming from faculty elections as senators,” Blasing said. “We want to be part of the formulation of these solutions.”

Ben Braun, a professor in the department of mathematics, sparked conversation about the disconnect between the “rhetoric being used and the actions that are being taken,” he said. Braun spoke about the desire for partnership Capilouto often expresses being contradictory to what he takes into consideration when making decisions.  

“We still have not been given a real reason why there’s a rush, that this has to be done in June as opposed to waiting a few more months,” Braun said. 

He said he believes there needs to be more people involved in the process as well as more of a partnership between faculty and administration rather than “just listening.” He also said there should be more seats at the table for the university’s elected representatives.

Braun asked Capilouto if he would consider slowing down the process if members of the campus community feel as though more time is needed to solidify the details of the proposed changes.

“I am going to follow the process that I’ve outlined. If anything else causes me to think differently, my mind is certainly open, but I’m following this process,” Capilouto said.

According to UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton, the Board of Trustees is looking for Capilouto to make said decisions both “thoughtfully and quickly” with the next fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2024.

Faculty members also voiced their concerns regarding the “nature of the evidence” that the Deloitte consultants used to back the reasoning for proceeding with the action to alter the shared governance model currently in place.

“It was basically a hit-job on the Senate, it was unprofessional and it was not correct in many of the things it stated,” Bob Grossman, professor of chemistry, said.

Capilouto was asked for a statement by Grossman to ensure he will not use the report from Deloitte as a starting point or guide to formulate a change to the governing system of the university. 

A final answer was not given from Capilouto despite multiple questions and comments throughout the meeting that referred to the Deloitte report.

A petition organized by the United Campus Workers of Kentucky organization was sent in the chat of the Zoom meeting calling to protect faculty governance to “maintain and safeguard academic freedom, institutional integrity and educational excellence,” at UK, the petition said.

The petition called on Capilouto and the Board of Trustees to terminate all administrative plans and actions that utilized information by Chairman Report 1 Workgroup 5, use resources to supporting “faculty-driven studies” on university government efficiency and responsiveness, and to present a concrete proposal on how they plan to ensure transparency between faculty and “all other stakeholders in lieu of closed-door meetings and secrecy” in the future.

Capilouto said he will encourage the continuation of discussion as he is still gathering feedback from the campus community on what shared governance should look like moving forward.

“This is what learning institutions do. They listen. They talk. They debate and discuss. They treat each other with respect, even when they disagree on some issues,” he said in the campus-wide email.

By the end of the month, Capilouto said he plans to provide to the Senate Council, the executive bodies of the staff and student leadership, and to the campus, more details about revisions to the shared governance model of the university. 

“Our plan remains to take recommended changes to the Board of Trustees at the April meeting,” the email said. “If those changes meet with Board approval after consideration, we will gather another month of feedback from our campus before going to the Board at their next meeting for a final reading and vote.”

On March 27, Capilouto provided the campus community with the final draft of the proposed changes to UK’s shared governance in a campus-wide email. 

After speaking with nearly 1,000 UK campus community members, Capilouto drafted four principles for campus review.

Principle one outlines the authority of the Board of Trustees and President Capilouto, principle two describes three shared governance bodies, principle three proposes the creation of a “President’s Council,” and principle four calls for primacy for the development and decisions regarding educational policy.

This draft is a means to guide potential revisions to the university’s governing regulations, according to the document.

Following the proposed draft, Capilouto asked for feedback from the campus community through the Work Group 5: More Responsiveness website by April 3.

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