Provost answers student questions

By Rachel Aretakis

Provost Kumble Subbaswamy addressed questions from students, faculty and staff in an informal chat Friday.

The chat was the first in a new series of informal chats with administrators and is “a joint effort of the Staff and University Senates,” Staff Senate Chair Jann Burks said.

More than 35 people attended the meeting. Most of the people in attendance were faculty and staff.

Chairs were set up in circular rows, and Subbaswamy sat in the crowd and faced a web cam that aired footage online.

“There can never be enough communication,” Subbaswamy said about the new informal chats. “The more we can communicate, the more we can clear the air.”

Anyone in the audience was free to ask Subbaswamy questions about any topic they wanted. Topics such as the new president, alternative funding for research, bullying and academic culture were discussed.

Journalism Professor Buck Ryan began the questioning session by asking Subbaswamy about the anxiety raised by President Lee Todd’s retirement.

“There will always be uncertainty,” Subbaswamy said.  “The challenge is to maintain everyone’s focus on the work at hand.”

One question regarding bullying came from a senate staff member via the internet.  Subbaswamy said he did not know enough about the topic to comment. Sally Evans, Educational Programs Coordinator of the VIP Center, later brought up the issue again. She asked about the collaborative efforts to engage the whole university on issues such as bullying.

Several attendees asked multiple questions about UK’s funding priorities and the possibility of UK favoring some colleges and programs over others.

Subbaswamy said that because some colleges and programs generate much more revenue than others, there is a need for more funding to maintain that. He said there must be a balance between colleges.

Law student Robert Proudfoot was one of the only students at the chat. He said he appreciated the chance to talk with Subbaswamy in an informal setting.

“The informal chat was an excellent forum to learn more about our university and its leaders,” he said.

Subbaswamy said he thought the chat went well.

“It’s important to have honest, difficult conversations. It’s good for everyone,” he said.