UofL’s Staff Senate opened the floor for officer nominations at its May 8 meeting. There were no opposing nominations for Chair Will Armstrong or Vice Chair Vickie Tencer from the body.

Armstrong provided comments on why he wants to continue in the chair role for another year, touting UofL’s staff for “doing it all” and promising to continue advocating and “fighting the good fight.” One of his focuses for next year will be finding true professional development opportunities.

In the past year as vice chair, Tencer said she has learned how important it is to advocate for staff, noting that this effort is even more important in tumultuous times.

Nominations were closed for secretary/treasurer, with Sabrina Haug and Wendy Metcalf both presenting comments on why they would make ideal candidates. Haug, current secretary/treasurer, has been on the Staff Senate since 2014 and has served on a number of committees. Metcalf has been on the Staff Senate since 2009 and has also served on many committees. Both candidates promised to strengthen the Staff Senate and help their fellow employees.

Elections will be held at the June meeting.

Standing reports

Policy, Economics and Development Committee: The PED committee met in April and provided a new recommendation for UofL’s RIF policy to HR. Members are awaiting any modifications on those recommendations. The recommendation included more concrete language surrounding the hiring of internal employees versus external candidates. The committee has also been benchmarking other ACC schools on how they roll internal preference hires into their policies.

Staff Grievance Committee: Two staff grievances were filed in the past month. The results cannot be shared yet, but the committee said they can stand behind the recommendations that were made and that the processes were done with high integrity.

SHARE: No applications were submitted for SHARE in the past month. The EVPRI office has offered to host a fundraiser sometime this month for SHARE.

Staff Morale and Community Outreach: The committee has compiled staff morale suggestions from past meetings and will submit a list of cost-free ideas to HR. The committee issued a survey about communication opportunities and will create a newsfeed on the Staff Senate website and continue to share post-meeting reports to constituents.

Treasurer’s report: The Staff Senate’s budget will not be cut in the current budget process. The general fund is currently $5,264.21. The balance is $14,225, and the tech fund is currently $1,674.

Faculty Senate report: Dr. Bob Staat provided an update from the Faculty Senate meeting last week, including elections – Enid Trucios-Haynes will continue as chair this year, while Krista Wallace-Boaz, will continue as vice chair. Staat said he will be going into a phased retirement and the new Faculty Senate representative is Avery Kolers, from the Department of Philosophy.

Interim provost Dale Billingsley and interim president Greg Postel both provided updates to the Faculty Senate. Billingsley said dean searches continue. Colin Crawford has been named the new dean of the Brandeis School of Law, pending board approval, and will begin Jan. 1. Law professor Lars Smith will fill the role in the interim. A new search for the Speed School dean will begin in the fall with “an aggressive timeline.” Gail DePuy will take on the acting dean role in the interim. Finally, the School of Nursing dean search will begin in the fall.

From the enrollment front, applications and admissions are up 11 percent compared to last year. Students, surveys have shown, are not deterred by the SACS accreditation status. Underrepresented minority student numbers and mentored scholarship numbers are both strong at this point.

Postel provided an update from the latest CPE meeting in Frankfort, including the growing recognition of deferred maintenance on state campuses across Kentucky, estimated to be around $8 billion. Another point was brought up about the state’s budget, which was about $113 million behind what was anticipated for Q3, or just over 1 percent, for the general funds budget. Things could change for Q4 to get the budget back in line. However, if that doesn’t happen, the governor has the ability to use about 25 percent of the rainy day fund to heal the general funds shortfall. This would still leave a deficit of about $60 million, which could potentially threaten the higher education budget. Postel said they will be watching this closely and will know more in the next few weeks.

More information about the Faculty Senate meeting is available online

Armstrong’s Chair’s Report is also available online. He noted that the Budget Development Committee is reconsidering is purpose. It was originally formed to help with the development of the FY18 budget, but now it is focused on being strategic.

“We will be looking at budgets continuously so we’re better stewards of our funds,” he said, adding that it is a culture change.

Haug provided the Strategic Plans and Bylaws ad hoc committee report. Members have come up with a new mission statement and will submit it to the executive committee before presenting it to the entire Staff Senate in June.

Tencer provided an update on the Presidential Qualities ad hoc committee, which issues a survey asking employees to provide their input. The survey generated more than 250 responses. Employees generally are looking for a candidate with integrity, honesty and an ability to communicate transparently. The committee will put a list together based on those survey results for the next meeting.

The HR Advisory Committee met to discuss ideas on where/how to cut costs, including a potential smokers surcharge and other ideas.

The Staff Senate will next meet for its regular monthly meeting on June 12, in the Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library, Belknap Campus, at 2:30 p.m. Officer elections will be conducted.

 

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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.