Board retreat wraps up with next steps forward

The second day of the two-day retreat began Sunday morning with a campus tour of facilities, and the discussion of being a land grant and flagship university continued.

Whether to focus on recruiting out-of-state students or continue to focus on in-state students, which is in line with the land grant mission of helping the commonwealth, was a question facing the trustees.

President Eli Capilouto said his first priority is in-state students.

“Students have always been first to me, and Kentucky students are first,” Capilouto said. He said more opportunities need to be created on campus for students before the university is able to compete with other institutions.

“But we’ve got to get started on facilities,” he said.

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Joe Peek, a faculty representative and finance professor, thinks the university will serve Kentucky better by having more international and out-of-state students on campus.

For the 2011-12 academic year, 21.2 percent of students are from other states, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

“We are much too insular,” he said. “More out-of-state students doesn’t mean less in-state students. Kentucky needs to be exposed to the outside world.” When referring to the “outside world,” Peek said he meant other states and not necessarily other countries.

The first thing the university needs to do is update facilities using private funding, he said. Other trustees agreed with a private-public construction approach to building facilities. He believes the university can build dorms right away with the private funding, and that way, the university can spend its funds on educating students.

“We’ve got to quit messing around,” Peek said. “Do you want your flagship university to be an embarrassment to you?”

Peek reiterated what Capilouto said about needing to be creative and think about different ways of funding.

Trustee Billy Joe Miles said when the Board was making similar goals 10 years ago, getting state funding was difficult.

“We failed miserably. We didn’t have any support at all,” Miles said. He said the university needs to learn from history, and said that student representative Micah Fielden is the future.

“He is giving us a wake-up call, and now we have to listen to him,” Miles said about Fielden, who is also Student Government president, representing the student voice.

Fielden said he thinks students will start seeing a different campus in the next few years.

“I think by providing the best, we will get the best of our students,” he said.

The Board also summarized its thoughts on what is next for the university.The trustees divided their ideas into four categories: undergraduate education, financial resources, university innovation for 21st century learning and human capital.

Overall, each topic was extensively discussed and multiple opinions were brought to the table. The Board also decided to start having more in-depth conversations during regularly scheduled Board meetings, and Capilouto said he’d have a progress report at the next Board meeting on Oct. 25.

“I want to move quickly and inform my campus community,” Capilouto said. After the retreat concluded, he tweeted, “After a two-day Board retreat, I’m walking away energized for the brighter days that are ahead for UK and Kentucky.”

news editor Rachel Aretakis at [email protected] or on Twitter @KernelAretakis.