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Resolution on Shared Governance at UK approved in Senate Council meeting


The proposed “Resolution on University Senate Principles on Shared Governance” was approved by the Senate Council on April 8, causing a Student Government Association member to leave the meeting room in frustration. 

The resolution divided students and faculty that are on the Senate Council alike at the meeting, causing tension between those in attendance via Zoom and those in person.  

This resolution will now be discussed amongst University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and leaders in shared governance at UK, getting input from them. This proposal has the potential to reduce the amount of power from the Senate, the SGA and faculty, transferring power to the Board of Trustees. 

The vote on the resolution resulted in 53 approving, 19 opposed and 9 abstaining from the vote. Two resolutions had been proposed prior to the third resolution debated at the meeting.

In place of Senate member and Associate Professor of Russian Studies Molly Blasing, University Senate Council Chair DeShana Collett read the third resolution which “outlines a vision for expanding the University Senate to include more voices.”

“This is the third resolution that we have now come to because it seems as though the first two we do not feel were necessarily heard or acted on as nothing has been paused, and we have not collaborated,” Collett said. “This proposed resolution is recommending that the University Senate retain his delegated authority over education policy decisions.”

First published on March 27, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto shared his “Final Draft of Principles for Campus Review,” a five-page document laying out the four new principles he would like to establish. 

“Refining our GRs (Governing Regulations) is the first step as they are principles that clarify values. Our Administrative Regulations (ARs), then, are how we, as a collaborative community, operationalize those principles and ensure that everyone has a voice and role in making those values real; our community will work in the coming months to revise the ARs to align with the refined GRs,” Capilouto wrote.

The first principle in the draft proposes “The University of Kentucky’s Board of Trustees is the institution’s ultimate authority for all policy matters, which should not be delegated.” This proposal would mean that “The Faculty Senate will be the official representative body of faculty at UK.”

This would give the Board of Trustees more power than they have wielded before, such as “approving undergraduate admission policies for the institution, based on the recommendations of the President, who will consult with the Faculty Senate,” according to Principle 3. 

Capilouto also proposes in Principle 3 the creation of the President’s Council that would regularly assist the president in making the “most critical, high-level institutional matters.”

The board will also have the final say when making decisions about program approvals and closures, according to Principle 3.

Dr. Sarah Hall of the College of Medicine was one of the first at the Senate Council meeting to share her opinion on the resolution. 

“My concerns with the resolution are whether it’s going to achieve the intended effect,” she said. “I think that what the proposed changes are to the shared governance are not particularly a centralization of power, and I think there’s a lot of fear right now, that this is some kind of centralization of power when it could be viewed as a decentralization of power to give power back to the college level.”

Jennifer Cramer from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Department of Linguistics also expressed concerns regarding the potential “dissolving of the Senate.” 

“I think that part of what this resolution does is support the proposed expanded advisory capacity for staff, senate and student government, especially with respect to items particularly concerning those two constituent groups,” Cramer said. “However, that can be achieved without dissolving the University Senate. Those entities exist, staff, senate and SGA exist and can be given more advisory capacity without doing anything to the Senate.”

The following 4th Principle states that power regarding education policy should be within the college. 

In the description of this policy, Capilouto proposes that the colleges should form committees that deal with curriculum, made up of faculty to make decisions and recommendations regarding courses and programs.

“Returning more authority for curriculum to faculty at the local level doesn’t diminish their role, it strengthens it. Faculty who are the closest to the issues that most impact students should have more control over the curriculum, not less as the University Senate wants,” UK Spokesperson Jay Blanton said.

Kaveh Tagavi of the College of Engineering said it was “gaslighting” to say that the power is now with the college. 

“The Board of Trustees has given certain authority to the senate so I use the board’s rubber stamp not to be pejorative, but for all practical purposes when the senate approved the course, I don’t remember in my years and years of history here that the Board of Trustees said ‘No, we are not going to approve the course,’” he said. “So for practical purposes, the power, the final decision was in the Senate, which means the faculty.”

When Tagavi asked one of his classes about whether or not they knew what was happening on campus, he said three people raised their hands, and only one person was “partially correct” on explaining the matter. 

“Students and staff have not disagreed, but have they agreed? Do you have evidence that they have agreed with the proposal of the president? I haven’t heard of that. If you have heard it, please let us know,” he said. 

Kiersten White, student senator for the College of Health Sciences, felt frustrated at the remark about students not talking about their opinions on this topic. 

“I am beyond frustrated. All of these students behind me support what I’m saying and I can say that because we have had conversations. We know what is going on. We are not ignorant. We understand that this is a time of change. But for us, we want the President’s principles. In no world could we as students, if we are all supportive of the same resolution ever outvote the faculty, and yet, we are the highest population of people here at the University of Kentucky,” White said. 

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