Todd offers face time to students tonight

By Ashley Jackson

This Presidents Day, UK students have an opportunity to personally talk with a president: Lee Todd.

Students who are unsure of what state budget cuts could mean for their future at UK can hear what President Lee Todd and Provost Kumble Subbaswamy have to say and ask their own questions at the Cats Den’s, “A Conversation with Lee Todd.”

The forum, which starts at 6:30 tonight, will be an “opportunity for students to have one-on-one, face-to-face time with the president and the provost,” said Jeremy Ridgeway, a history and African-American studies sophomore and Cats Den special events coordinator.

“I can’t think of a better way to get information than straight from our top representative,” said Rob Theakston, event coordinator for the Cats Den.

Ashlee Harris, an integrated strategic communications junior, said she plans to attend the forum tonight to ask questions about the potential university budget cuts.

“I want to know the full impact it is going to have on us as students,” Harris said. “What we can do, if anything, to help? What is UK going to look like next year?”

The discussion with the president is just the first step that students can take in getting involved in their future at UK, said Nick Phelps, president of Student Government. Legislators will change their minds about cutting the higher education budget if students express to them that “they will not stand for them,” he said.

“The question is, what do (students) want to make time for?” Phelps said. “They could have (their legislator’s) number saved in their phone and call everyday. They could send them an e-mail everyday. You send, they read it.”

Offsetting the budget cuts could require the equivalent of a “30 percent increase in tuition or the elimination of 700 jobs,” Todd said in an e-mail.

“I’m in Frankfort almost weekly, sometimes multiple times a week, making our case to legislators and policymakers about the importance of higher education funding and maintaining our momentum,” Todd said.

But the university budget is not the only topic that can be addressed tonight; Ridgeway said he expects topics such as Robinson Forest and racial tension at UK to come up as well.

Patrick Kelly, a computer science junior, plans to ask the president about UK’s plan to become a top-20 public research institution.

“Until our undergraduate program is top-notch, we should not be pursuing to be a top-20 school,” Kelly said.

The Cats Den staff is hoping that the conversations tonight will help to form a closer bond between the president and the students.

“I’m really looking forward to engaging in a conversation with students,” Todd said. “After all, they are why we are here.”