Provost Tim Tracy announces merger to result in job losses

Will Wright

Provost Tim Tracy announced Tuesday a plan to merge Student Affairs and the Division of Undergraduate Education, a merger that he said will result in an unknown number of job losses. 

Tracy said the merger, along with other initiatives to reorganize some UK departments, will benefit students, create new jobs, and transfer some employees to new departments. 

The move will help UK achieve goals laid out in its Strategic Plan, and will affect about 420 employees across five units. The Strategic Plan aims to improve retention rates, graduation rates and affordability for undergraduate students.

By 2020, UK hopes to increase its six-year graduation rate from 60.2 percent to 70 percent, and hopes to increase the percentage of students who stay in school between their first and second years from 82.7 percent to 90 percent, according to the Strategic Plan. 

Tracy said these administrative changes will reorganize and consolidate five units involved in academic excellence: Division of Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, UK International Center, Enrollment Management, and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching. 

Tracy said students typically do not complete their education at UK for four reasons: they struggle academically, they struggle financially, they do not feel like they belong, or they struggle with their emotional and physical well-being. These factors often play into each other, he said. 

“If (students) are not successful, we are not successful,” Tracy said to hundreds of UK employees in Memorial Hall on Tuesday.

The merger will begin immediately, and will continue into mid-May. This initiative, along with others that seek to improve the UK International Center, Enrollment Management, and the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, are scheduled to be finished by the time students return in August. 

Tracy said UK will likely invest more in advisers, who are crucial to student success. He said UK has recently doubled the capacity of the Counseling Center, and would be willing to do the same for advisers. 

All colleges will also be required to host students who have undeclared majors. Not all UK colleges are currently required to host these students. Some students, therefore, are without a college until they pick a major. 

Tracy said the overall mission of these changes is to make students more likely to succeed on campus, and to bridge the gap between certain employees and students. The changes are meant to give students more of a support system to lean on if they are struggling academically, financially or emotionally.