Grawemeyer Hall 2017
Grawemeyer Hall 2017

UofL’s Staff Senate met Dec. 11 for a full agenda, including reports from Mordean Taylor-Archer, Patty Payette, Keith Sherman and Lee Smith.

Report: Mordean Taylor-Archer, vice provost of diversity and international affairs, provided an overview of the newly-released UofL Diversity Plan, which was created in response to a CPE policy developed in 2016. There are three focus areas in the plan: opportunity, success and impact. The framework was developed for all state-supported colleges.

Opportunity includes enrollment initiatives. Success references retention and graduation, and impact includes a climate of inclusion and workforce numbers.

UofL’s undergraduate student profile right now is 11.1 percent African American, 4.4 percent Hispanic/Latino, and 4.8  percent other (e.g. American Indian, Pacific Islander). These numbers are expected to steadily increase through 2020.

“Kentucky is one of the only states, if not the only state, that must make progress on their diversity plans or they can’t develop new academic programs,” Taylor-Archer said.

She also noted that the report examines not only race and ethnic groups, but also low-income students. Some strategies put into place to meet goals include Living-Learning Communities, summer bridge/early arrival programs, flight plans, and a goal to mandate mid-term grades.

Taylor-Archer asked for the Staff Senate’s help on developing plans for the impact component.

“How do we create a campus climate where everyone feels welcome? We are expected to provide cultural competency training for faculty, staff and students. This is new. How do we best make this happen?” she said.

The Campus Climate Survey results will be released soon and Taylor-Archer said an action plan will be developed shortly thereafter, focusing on the areas that need work.

The entire Diversity Plan is available online

Report: Patty Payette, executive director of the Delphi Center, provided senators with an update on the QEP (Quality Enhancement Plan) program, a required part of the university’s reaffirmation with SACS. The program is aimed at improving student learning environments and a new course will be piloted in the spring semester.

“We have to make sure we are always looking at student data to see where the gaps are and how we can enhance our students’ experience,” Payette said.

Notably, students who drop out tend to do so between their second and third years, so the program is geared toward that demographic specifically.

“The sophomore slump is not uncommon at universities. The newness of being in college is gone and support systems that are there during the first year aren’t there anymore. We are focused on helping these students get the support they need and better understand why they’re here,” Payette said. “We are going to help them navigate where they belong.”

The sessions being piloted in the spring include:

  • Gen Z: Who Am I and How Do I Communicate
  • Emotional Intelligence: How Do Emotions Shape My Thinking, My Decisions and Everyday Life

The goal is to increase the number of sessions in the QEP program throughout the next five years. The Student Success Center in the new Academic Building, opening in the fall 2018, will provide a home for this program. More information is available online

Report: Keith Sherman, UofL Foundation’s interim executive director/COO, provided an update about the foundation since the state and forensic audits were completed.

“Our sole purpose is to fund scholarships and endowments for faculty and staff. The goal is to do this in perpetuity, but we weren’t doing that,” he said.

The ULF has been under an audit for nearly 900 straight days.

“I assure you there is no granular of sand that hasn’t been looked at and we have a clean bill of health,” Sherman said.

Changes that have been made to clear the investigations and restore donor and stakeholder confidence include:

  • New leadership from top to bottom
  • Revised bylaws
  • A separation of the UofL president and the president of the foundation
  • Transparency and compliance with open records requests
  • New independent executive
  • Specific board resolutions
  • Established compliance process to ensure funding to the university is consistent with donor intent
  • A more robust conflict of interest policy
  • Changed auditors and law firms

In addition to reigning in spending, Sherman added that the foundation is looking at other ways to grow the endowment. This includes an end to the deferred compensation plan, an end to “tax gross up” payments to staff, the development of the first ever line-item budget, a review of all real estate holdings to determine their value, and more.

Sherman said the changes have been noticed and September marked the best month for donations in a year.

“We’re not the same foundation we were a year ago. It’s time to change and be a better partner for the university,” he said.

Sherman’s presentation is available online

Report: Lee Smith, interim COO, provided some updates from his area, including a newly adopted two-factor authentication system that was put into place to make UofL’s systems more secure. The product, called Duo, will first be used in HR and will eventually expand to other areas.

Employees will need to sign up for a Duo account and then choose how to authorize their identity.

“The university is under attack daily from phishing schemes. The goal is to protect your sensitive information better,” Smith said.

He also provided an update about a committee put into place to add feminine hygiene products to about 25 buildings across all three campuses. The products will be available in the spring and they will be free.

Smith said UofL has received a grant to improve lighting around campus, particularly along the L Trail and under the viaducts. Other safety improvements are underway as well, including more curb cuts for those with disabilities and more and better security cameras around campuses.

There are currently about 560 cameras on campus and more will be added. These efforts, Smith noted, are not cost saving, but rather reinvestment efforts.

Concerns have been raised about pedestrian safety at Cardinal and Brandeis avenues and officers are issuing warnings both to jaywalkers and vehicles turning illegally on red to try and eliminate these risks.

Finally, a capital plan has been submitted to Frankfort to secure money for deferred maintenance work around campus. Smith said more than 50 percent of buildings on the Belknap campus are over 50 years old and many still have their original HVAC systems in place.

Other reports

In other Staff Senate action, a resolution was passed on the Presidential Search. It reads in part:

“That the Executive Committee of the University of Louisville Staff Senate on behalf of the Staff Senate, in accordance with the Redbook, strongly urge the Board of Trustees to adopt a shared-governance model in the search process for a new president to include opportunities for input from a cross-section of the university community, alumni and other stakeholders throughout the search …

… To entail at least that the finalists for the new president position be publicly announced and that open forums be arranged with the university community …”

All of the committee reports are available online.

Chair Will Armstrong’s report is also available online

There will not be a Staff Senate meeting in January. The Staff Senate will meet for its next regular meeting on Feb. 12, 2:30 p.m.

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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.