March 17, 2016
As you may have read or heard, the March 1 meeting of the University’s Board of Trustees was marred by discord, anger and tension. The illegality of the Board’s composition has frustrated many of the Trustees, and these feelings are understandable.
I am disappointed, however, that our University has been defined by the friction among those entrusted with running it. Our students, donors, alumni, faculty and staff deserve better. So, I will ask each member of the Board of Trustees to individually meet with me and discuss how we can regain our focus on our students and how we help them academically succeed at UofL.
We must put our concerns on the table, and, as President, I will take the lead to address how we regain our focus.
Even though there was no advance notice about of any lack of confidence, as expressed at the March 1 Board of Trustees meeting, I take the comments of individual board members seriously. Our students, donors, alumni, faculty and staff demand confidence in their University, so that we continue to build on our progress over the past 14 years.
Since the enactment of the “Postsecondary Education Improvement Act of 1997,” our success has been undeniable.
A brief recap (since 1998):
- Baccalaureate degrees awarded annually are up 63%--from 1,734 to 2,832;
- The six-year graduation rate has increased to 52.9%, from 30.1%;
- Doctoral degrees awarded are up 126%;
- Research expenditures have increased 359% despite the loss of federal “earmarks,” federal stimulus funding and more competitive NIH/NSF research funding;
- Start-up companies coming from university commercialization have grown from 1 to 85;
- Annual philanthropic support has increased 177%;
- Fulbright Scholars over the decade are cumulatively greater here than at all other Kentucky universities combined (private and public); and
- Our bachelor’s degree graduates from Kentucky exceed the state average, and the number of UofL alumni with bachelor’s degrees who are employed in Kentucky within five years of graduating also exceeds the state average for all public four-year research institutions.
Still, we have more to do, and we will not allow budget cuts and other challenges to derail our progress.
All over the nation, boards and administrations of organizations can, and should, disagree. Each board member brings different perspectives to the decision-making process. UofL is no different. Over time, our Board of Trustees’ discussions have always had our students and their successes as the primary objective, and further, these discussions were not personal.
Our shared governance commitment has encouraged all of the trustees as equals to partner with administration to achieve our shared goals. I commit to you that over the next several weeks restoring cooperation and shared governance between the Board of Trustees and the Administration is a priority.
We are deeply grateful to you for being a devoted member of the Cardinal family and for your professional commitment to student success, so UofL becomes the nationally acclaimed university this state and community deserve.
President James Ramsey
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