Trustees distressed over nominees

Some say candidate selection ‘defies logic and statistics’

Some Board of Trustees members are concerned over how the nominating committee selected nominees for senior board positions after a meeting yesterday.

The chairman of the board, vice chair and secretary of the board are elected annually.

This year, nominating committee Chairman Frank Schoop e-mailed trustees for input on which board members should be nominated for the positions. Schoop then took the three candidates that received the most nominations and presented them as the only nominees.

Some on the board thought Schoop exercised too much individual discretion in the selections.

“I wasn’t happy,” said faculty trustee Ernie Yanarella. “Some of the other board members, as did I, recognize there is a difference between an e-mail soliciting suggestions and votes.

“I took the e-mail (sent by Schoop) as eliciting a call for candidates we would whittle down,” he said.

During the meeting, Schoop presented three names for nomination: Steve Branscum, a contractor from Russell Springs, for chairman; Mira Ball, current board member, for vice chair; and Pam May for re-election as secretary.

Schoop justified narrowing the field to three nominees by saying the persons chosen had a majority of the nominations.

“Those three names got the vote (in the e-mail responses) well ahead of anybody else nominated,” Schoop said.

Faculty trustee Jeff Dembo, who attended the meeting but is not a nominating committee member, said the board engaged in “backroom politicking” with the e-mail nominations. The fact that only three names were presented to the nominating committee as candidates is evidence of that, Dembo said.

“It defies logic and statistics, I believe,” he said.

Dembo also admonished the committee for not nominating a woman for the board chairperson.

“It needs to stop from the top down,” Dembo said. “If things are equal, the board should look at ways to enhance its diversity.”

UK has never had a woman head the Board of Trustees and to elect another man as chairman, Dembo said, hurts UK as it tries to reach its top-20 goals.

“It would be hypocritical for the board to vote on this slate and approve it,” Dembo said.

Four board members not on the nominating committee attended yesterday’s meeting, including Dembo, Student Government President Nick Phelps, staff trustee Russ Williams and Ball.

The committee also voted on the six members to be nominated to the executive committee of the board. All six members nominated are the same as last year’s committee.

“To keep the same members year after year denies board members to stand in a leadership position,” said Williams, a trustee since 1998.

Schoop told Williams he made a good point.

“If I serve on the committee next year, I will take that into consideration,” Schoop said.

Williams responded by saying the committee had time at yesterday’s meeting to consider new nominees. Schoop said they must move forward with voting.

The Board of Trustees will vote on the nominees at the next full board meeting Tuesday. At the meeting, board members will be allowed to make other nominations.