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UK Board of Trustees passes President’s Recommendation 4 affecting university shared governance

Faculty members, professors and students gather for a Board of Trustees meeting at the University of Kentucky on Friday, April 26, 2024, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

The University of Kentucky Board of Trustees (BOT) voted to pass PR6, the proposed President’s Recommendation, that discusses the future of shared governance at UK.

Passing in a 19-1 vote today, nearly every seat was filled with attendees and overflowing numbers lining the walls awaiting to hear the vote — many who immediately left in frustration after the Board’s decision.

Shortly into the meeting, 14 petitioners with concerns toward PR6 addressed the Board, one of those faculty members being Dr. Sarah Hall, assistant professor of Anesthesiology in the College of Medicine and the college’s university senator.

“I’ve been able to gather a great number of perspectives on this, and I speak today to support the GR (Governing Regulations) changes,” Hall said. “We care deeply about the mission of our university, preserving intellectual freedom, while recognizing and elevating the students and staff who are also the heart of the university.”

Hall spoke out at the last University Senate meeting in support of the GR changes, causing many individuals to reach out and share their similar perspectives with Hall.

“They also support the proposed changes and thanked me for speaking up on their behalfs. They also requested to remain anonymous, for fear of backlash,” she said. “Unfortunately, many who are in support remain silent, due to the misinformation campaign against the changes.”

Some of those in the audience laughed and shared whispers during the moment of Hall’s speech when she mentioned “misinformation.”

Despite having said he agrees with the principles of PR6, Douglas Michael, a Thomas P. Lewis professor of law, asked for the Board to disapprove the resolution.

“It is clear from these proposals how this administration views the University of Kentucky,” Lewis said. “The students and the patients are revenue sources, and the faculty are simply in the way.”

Shortly after, Ben Braun, a professor of Mathematics in the College of Arts and Sciences and faculty member of the Lewis Honors College, also spoke in opposition to the PR6.

“These changes will undermine the ability of faculty and staff to serve and educate the citizens of Kentucky,” Braun said. “It will weaken the bonds of collaboration and engagement that have allowed UK to flourish and thrive, and they will cause lasting harm both to the reputation and the quality of our university.”

Braun said that the processes that led to the development of the current proposed changes fall short of the precedent that UK sets for itself.

“Confidentiality agreements, secret data and refusal by the president’s office to authentically collaborate have led to a proposal that would separate and exclude people,” Braun said.

After the 14 petitioners concluded, Capilouto briefly discussed PR6 before the Board acted on the vote.

“We were created to advance Kentucky, and now we are called to do more and be more,” Capilouto said. “When I began this process of reviewing how we operate together, I was asked often why … Why not now?”

Capilouto then reflected on conversations he had with students, staff and faculty on the current shared governance structure at UK and listened to their concerns regarding the matter.

“I cannot unhear what I heard … Truth is, how we operate no longer sustains our present, nor powers our future …” Capilouto said. “… Change is uncomfortable, that’s why it’s called growing pains,” Capilouto said.

University of Kentucky sophomore Kamryn Lin puts their head in their hands as proposed shared governance changes pass during a Board of Trustees meeting on Friday, April 26, 2024, in Harris Ballroom at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Staff

President’s Recommendation 4 (PR4) was also discussed at the meeting, which was the University of Kentucky’s partnership with St. Claire Healthcare, located in the city of Morehead.

“With your approval, UK will move forward with the acquisition of St. Claire Healthcare. Our goal is to execute key agreements immediately, and work to bring St. Claire into the university on July 1,” Capilouto said.

The Board passed PR4 unanimously, causing faculty and staff at the meeting to stand and applaud the acquisition.

Other notable topics of discussion were the naming of Heather Bush as the next Dean of Public Health, as well as 16 UK professors being awarded with University Research Professorships for 2024-2025.

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Lilly Keith, Assistant News Editor

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    Louise HarmonApr 27, 2024 at 4:26 am

    It would have been good to know what the changes in self governance were, and the supporting arguments on both sides

    • C

      Cole ParkeApr 27, 2024 at 2:41 pm

      Hello Louise, I apologize if the story was confusing, this was another chapter in a series of stories we’ve done covering this topic. Here is one from earlier in the semester that broke down more of what the actual changes are and some arguments from both sides: