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Faculty Senate Meeting Overview - July, 2011

by UofL Today last modified Jul 07, 2011 02:51 PM

The Faculty Senate is part of UofL's shared governance system, which also includes the Staff Senate and the Student Government Association. Senators are elected by their peers.

The full body met in regular session July 6 at Ekstrom Library. Chair Bob Staat presided. This is what happened:


Senators approved a proposal for an interdisciplinary PhD track in bioinformatics. The track will be housed in the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies and will involve faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences, Speed School of Engineering, School of Public Health and Information Sciences and School of Medicine. According to the proposal, the program's goal is to “produce graduates that are truly trained across disciplines. Thus, they should be able to generate a hypothesis based upon a biological system, experimentally design an approach to test that hypothesis, develop computational, mathematical and statistical models for analyzing the resulting data, and apply appropriate statistical tests to validate or invalidate the original hypothesis.” About half of UofL’s peer universities have a doctoral track such as this. Read the proposal. (PDF)

Senators also approved personnel and bylaws changes for the School of Law. The changes address promotion of part-time and term faculty and recognition of faculty community engagement efforts.

Reports to the Senate

Mike Curtin, vice president for finance: Curtin gave an overview of the final 2011–12 budget. Most of his discussion focused on the general fund, which accounts for less than half of UofL’s total budget. Here are some of his points:

  • Based on national health care costs, the budget includes money for the university to increase its part of employee health insurance.
  • The budget includes $4.3 million for increased student financial aid. The total amount for financial aid is $128 million, including student loans.
  • UofL has lost a cumulative $145 million in the past decade because of cuts to the state appropriation.
  • The budget includes money for compliance, new faculty and a chair in the law school, which honors a commitment administration made several years ago to fund the chair when temporary funding ended.

Provost Shirley Willihnganz: Willihnganz thanked Curtin for his work on the budget and “making it happen.” She said that faculty and staff raises were paid for largely from savings the university realized when it moved management of its self-insured health plan from Humana to United Healthcare. What that change didn’t cover, she said, came from entrepreneurial efforts within units. Other points she made in her report include:

  • Administration has heard from Phi Beta Kappa that UofL will not house a chapter this round. She said that it is important to remember that the goal to house a Phi Beta Kappa chapter by 2020. The letter from PBK, she said, was encouraging in that it noted that UofL is doing many things that are indicative of a great university.
  • The State of the University address is set for Sept. 13. The time has not been set, but classes will not meet during the address. Faculty should plan for this in their syllabi.

President James Ramsey: Ramsey has been on the road visiting alumni groups in Atlanta, Washington DC, and Lexington, Ky. He will soon go to see groups in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago. This is an effort to better engage alumni, especially recent graduates, in the university. Faculty accompany him on the trip and talk about their fields in a weekend university format.

Ramsey also shared preliminary results from UofL’s universitywide goals for 2011. Part of the 2020 Plan, he said he will present the same information to the Board of Trustees at its retreat July 13. The retreat will include a campus tour and a visit to UPS to see UofL students who participate in Metropolitan College.

The goals he discussed are listed on slides 2-18 of his powerpoint. UofL Today will do a full story on the university’s progress toward the 2020 Plan after the 2011 numbers have been finalized.

Other reports: Faculty Athletics Representative Elaine Wise reported that student athletes achieved a cumulative GPA of 3.067 this past year. That is the highest ever. Two students were nominated for post-graduate NCAA scholarships and both received them. See her full report (PDF).

The Senate will not meet in August. Its next meeting is Sept. 7, 3 p.m.-5 p.m., Chao Auditorium, Ekstrom Library.

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