UofL’s Staff Senate convened June 12 to tackle a long agenda that included updates from Susan Howarth, interim CFO, Jeanell Hughes, AVP of HR, and Lee Smith, interim COO.

Susan Howarth discussed the 2017-18 operating budget, noting that it “became clear the university had financial issues” in January. UofL ended FY16 with a deficit and therefore developed a pro forma approach for the first time to ensure a “more positive situation” at the end of this year and next year.

She said administrators are optimistic about ending this year with a surplus because of “significant” accounts receivables from KentuckyOne.

The budget that was presented to the Board of Trustees in May showed a $40 million deficit, $5 million coming from the general fund side and the rest from the clinical side, Howarth said. A budget re-set was done in March that “took care of most of the general fund problem.”

“The HSC problem didn’t get there overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. But we’ve got a plan and we need to execute it in the next year,” she said.

UofL’s initial enrollment projections fell short and enrollment numbers are down 200 from last fall. These are not incoming freshmen, however, but rather students that are not returning after their first or second years. Retention will be a priority in the coming fiscal year. (Note: The budget has since been presented and approved by the Board of Trustees.)

“The 2018-19 budget will be committed to a strategic plan and going forward,” she said. “It’s been tough it’s tough to understand how and why this could happen, but we will eventually be in a much better place.”

Jeanell Hughes said the HR effectiveness survey generated a great response rate, including thousands of comments. Most of these comments focused on training, development and career opportunities. Survey results will be added to the HR website.

A modified computer loan program will be announced soon, Hughes said.  HR is working through the details on a recently announced hiring freeze. Some senators asked if RIFs will continue from the budget crisis and Hughes noted that RIFs are a continuing process at this institution at any time.

Lee Smith said the employee migration to the Office365 email system is ongoing. He added that four major construction projects continue on campus and are on time and budget.

Money saving efforts continue, especially in the area of procurement. Smith notes that software purchases is an example of where we can save money, by reviewing and combining individual licenses to enterprise licenses for example.

“We are close to having our initial recommendations around procurement and will roll them out next fiscal year,” Smith said.

A printer/copier RFP is out, and a wired/wireless RFP will be issued soon.

A senator raised concerns about the cost of parking going up and Smith noted that UofL is below the benchmark for parking. UofL has also not raised its parking prices in six years.

A handful of senators challenged the increase in parking prices, noting that salaries are also below benchmark. Smith said the increase averages about $1.40 a month and that they were sensitive to increasing the cost too much, particularly for staff and students.

For “other business,” general discussion was held with several senators expressing disappointment over the recently released UofL Foundation audit results. 

Dr. Bob Staat provided the Faculty Senate report. More information is available online

Vickie Tencer provided the vice chair annual report, which is available in full online. She also noted that the search for a CFO is ongoing and the first review of applicants took place in late June.

Parliamentarian Melissa Long Shuter opened the officer elections for the 2017-18, including introductions from senators Wendy Metcalf and Sabrina Haug, who were both running for secretary/treasurer.

After a vote, Haug was named to the position of Secretary/Treasurer again. Will Armstrong and Vickie Tencer remain chair and vice chair, respectively, running with no opposition.

Other committee reports include:

Credentials and Nominations proposed seating of newly elected senators.

The Policy, Economics and Development report is available online. The focus this year has been on the university’s RIF policy to ensure it is in line with other schools and it favors training, development and hiring opportunities for internal candidates.

The Staff Grievances committee reported no grievances have been filed since the last meeting, and three total were filed during the year.

The SHARE committee report is available online. Chair Bonnie Dean said the committee’s main focus is to raise awareness and money. SHARE has signed on to join internal campaigns, such as Cards All In. SHARE has received revenue of more than $3,400 during the past year and the fund stands at just more than $14,700. One application was received and approved for $265.

The Staff Morale and Community Outreach committee report is available online. An updated Staff Senate website is in the works, and a Facebook page and Twitter account have been launched. Nineteen senators were recognized for perfect attendance in the past year.

The annual treasurer’s report is available online. The technology fund stands at $1,674. The Staff Senate general fund balance at the end of May was $3,805.87.

The next Staff Senate meeting is July 13 at 2:30 p.m. in Chao Auditorium.

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Alicia Kelso
Alicia Kelso is editor of UofLNews and UofL Today. She joined UofL in 2015 as communications director of the Brandeis School of Law. Prior, she was the editorial director of foodservice media for Networld Media Group, where her work was featured in publications around the world, including NPR, Bloomberg, The Seattle Times, Good Morning America and Franchise Asia Magazine. She continues to serve as a contributor for many publications, including QSRweb.com, FastCasual.com and Innovation Leader.