Retirement surprises trustees

By Brian Shlonsky

As Big Blue Nation was learning about UK President Lee Todd’s intent to retire at his news conference Wednesday, many surprised members of UK’s Board of Trustees were evaluating the news they received hours earlier.

UK spokeswoman Kathy Johnson said the trustees learned of Todd’s decision to retire Wednesday morning, before the afternoon news conference.

“I was shocked and saddened by it but was happy to know it wasn’t for health reasons,” said EverettMcCorvey, faculty representative to the board.  “We were hopeful that he would be here a few more years, but I understand wanting to do other things outside the presidency.”

Trustee Jo Hern Curris said she had not wondered about his retirement, nor she did know.

“I am so thrilled that we have been able to keep him for so long,” she said.

In an e-mail to the Kernel, Provost Kumble Subbaswamy said he was surprised when Todd informed him he had decided to step down.

“He is so fully engaged in improving higher education and the Commonwealth, I didn’t see this coming at all,” Subbaswamy said in the e-mail.

Trustee James Stuckert, who has known Todd for 30 years, said the president could have had a job anywhere doing anything he wanted, but he always wanted to help the state of Kentucky.

“When the committee sat down to pick him, he told us he didn’t want to be a president of a university but he wanted to be the president for the University of Kentucky,” Stuckert said.  “I think he’s done an amazing job.”

Even some of Todd’s critics acknowledged his commitment to the university and to the state of Kentucky.

Joe Peek, faculty representative to the board, said Todd’s job was to be the face of the university, and although he has done a good job of making his presence known, some of the staff members feel they did not receive the attention they deserve.

“I’ve been very critical, but there’s no question about him,” Peek said. “He dedicated his last 10 years and his heart is in the right place.”

Todd will be given his annual evaluation at the board and committee meeting Thursday — an evaluation Peek would rather give for the state of Kentucky.

“An item on the agenda is rating him on his annual evaluation,” Peek said. “I’d rather rate the state, and I’d give the Kentucky legislature an F because it failed Todd and the people of UK and Kentucky,”

Stuckert said the board would be forming a presidential search committee over the next few months to find Todd’s replacement.

During the news conference, Todd said the search committee will include faculty and staff in addition to board members, and it will be a national search.