University Senate Meeting Minutes

Meeting Details:

Fiscal Year: FY2023
Time: 3:15 p.m.
Location: Zoom
Guest Speaker: Chancellor Doug Girod
Minutes Recorded By: Suzanne Scales
Minutes Approved on:


Attending Members

  • Ani Kokobobo
  • Nate Brunsell
  • Andi Back
  • Mahasweta Banerjee
  • Justin Blumenstiel
  • Samuel Brody
  • Lea Currie
  • Nils Gore
  • Andrea Herstowksi
  • Tim Hossler
  • Marike Janzen
  • Barbara Kerr
  • Amanda Mollet
  • Russell Ostermann
  • Anne Patterson
  • Muhammad Hashim Raza
  • Roberta Schwartz
  • Sean Seyer
  • Maya Stiller
  • Kristin Villa
  • Nathaniel Garcia
  • DaNae Estabine
  • Angela Davis
  • Hara Talasila
  • Hollie Hall
  • Alessia Garcia
  • Todd Carpenter
  • Scott Cossel
  • Mary Dykman
  • Sara Wilson Merriman
  • Brian Moss
  • Robert Waller
  • Chris Wallace
  • Teri Chambers
  • Jessica Chilcoat
  • Chancellor Doug Girod

Other Attendees

  • Chris Brown
  • Julie Murray
  • Suzanne Scales

Approval of Previous Minutes

Teri Chambers made a motion to accept the minutes.  Chris Wallace seconded the motion.  Minutes were approved.

Guest Speaker Presentation

Guest Speaker: Chancellor Doug Girod

Chancellor Girod joined for his annual report.  He thanked all for attending and their service to the university.  He remarked campus seems more crowded this year.  Its good to see the HLC effort kickoff to the recognition of the governor’s proclamation of the NCI designation to comprehensive cancer center, a 20-year initiative.  And the football game!  The enrollment update, we do know that numbers are good, and this may be one of the largest classes ever, but we will know from the Regents officially after the 20th day.  There’s been a lot of effort from enrollment management team, student success team, partnership with alumni and endowment and it doesn’t hurt to win a national championship.  The out of state numbers have been creeping up over the years.  We took a drop in international enrollment during the pandemic, but we are seeing that trend turnaround.  It’s good news in context to what’s happening around us—around the state enrollment is down about 9%.  We took a drop in 2020.  Kansas State is down 17.6 % over the past six years, Emporia State down 11.5%, and Pittsburgh State down 20% and Fort Hays 10%. High school graduates in declining in the U.S. and Kansas.  The percentage going on to college is going down too.  We’ve started recruiting for next year. 

This fall, we had a get together for HLC effort, which goes on every 10 years.  This will happen in two years.  It’s a different process this time around.  Part of it is aligning strategic plan.  We’ll have one strategic plan for the campuses.  This will make the University better, being strategically aligned.  We’ve moved to consistency across campus for services. 

We’ve spent much time talking about budget.  An update is last May DeWitt put together a 5-year financial plan.  This will allow us to work toward thing that are financially important to us.  We’ve cut the budget 14 of the last 16 years.  We recognized last year the $50 million deficit and we addressed half of it.  We are working on growing revenue.  He discussed enrollment We are off to a good start.  Retaining students is key.  Our first-year retention rate is good-85 to 87%.   We lose most students after the sophomore year. 

We spent the summer recruiting a new commissioner for the Big 12.  Lauren McKown is the new director of the Title IV Office.  Kyle Christian joined us for federal relations.  Kyle spent some time on Senator Moran’s staff. We’re glad to have him back.  Dan Martin is the new president of Endowment.  It’s the first time we’ve had a leader from outside of KU, ever.  He’s a three-degree holder from KU.  He’s come up through philanthropy and spent some time as president of a small private university. He brings a unique perspective to Endowment.  We also just announced Karla Leeper, new vice chancellor for strategic communications and public affairs, following Dave Cook. She comes to us from Augusta Health.   She has two graduate degrees from KU.  She was on faculty at Baylor University in strategic communications and then went to Augusta where she was involved in operational roles.  She’s excited to be coming back to KU.

We’ve launched a Master Planning process to map out for the next five years.   Some of the big things going on are KU Innovation on west campus.  We opened the third phase of that with the help of federal government, state government, and partners, which are the City and Chamber.  This provides not only opportunities for faculty and students to spin out their research, but also to attract industry partners to work alongside.  We have about 50 companies.  Adjacent to that is an effort by Endowment to develop a live/work play environment and create some opportunities.  The Jayhawk Welcome Center on Jayhawk Boulevard is moving along well. It will be open to the public first of the year.  Admissions team will move there.  It will be a good place for meetings in the future.  The Medical Center is working with Wichita State University Medical to create a Health Education campus that we will share.  KU Pharmacy School has a branch in Wichita and the campuses will merge with the new facility, along with health professions and programs at Wichita.  This is a huge initiative in downtown Wichita.  We are planning a new gateway.  With the opening of the Jayhawk Welcome Center, all traffic will be funneled up Mississippi Street into the parking.  We are looking at what makes sense to put there.  This will be exciting not just because football is there, but other attractions in the area as well—Spencer and Natural History Museum.  With our AD, new coach, and national championship, our alumni are excited.  There’s much going on in Athletics.  We are not done with conference alignment.  Media partners will probably dictate this over the next 5-10 years by what they are willing to economically support.   It’s important for us to stay in a power 5 conference so we can be on television to have a national presence to attract the best faculty, staff, and students. 

The sports year has gotten off to a good start.  Volleyball is 6-0, soccer 4-2 and of football is undefeated, 1-0.  This summer they announced Kansas City will have the World Cup in 2026, which will have a big impact on Lawrence.  We very likely will have the opportunity to be the host city for a team.  Teams need a base operation and Lawrence can fill those needs.  The fan base follows the teams.  For example, 100,000 Brazilians and 90,000 Brits travelled to Russia for the World Cup.  We have great opportunity there.  This summer it was announced that Panasonic is coming to DeSoto to build one of the largest electrical vehicle battery plants in the World.  This will be a game changer for the region.  This will be opportunities for all types of graduates.  We’re getting together with the Chambers of Lawrence, Eudora, and Baldwin to maximize the opportunities.  One of the greatest challenges will be housing.  This will bring about 4,000 jobs. 

Yesterday, Emporia State announced that they will take advantage of the workforce policy which allows them to manage workforce, including tenured faculty.  They are financially challenged.  The KBOR policy expires in December.  KU will not use this.  We’ve had a 17% cut in faculty in the last ten years.  We now have a strong financial plan.  We do not plan to use this policy.  We’ll know what this means for Emporia State in the next few weeks.

A resolution on shared governance was passed last year and we will work on a strategy on how to make that robust.  It’s a perfect time to hit the reset button on the relationships in the environment.  We are starting to talk about a process to have an operating shared governance model.   We’ll have to get the culture right.

Girod opened the floor for Q&A/comments.  The audience applauded.

Question.  Sam Brody asked about the centralization of advising.  The purpose it to make it easier for students.  At some other institutions, it has been reported that with the centralization comes the steering of students to some fields rather than others.  Is that expected to happen here?

Answer.  We are trying to create a professional class of advisors.  Each School advising is done differently.  There isn’t a professional path for advisors.  We are trying to create consistency.  Advisors will have a path for career growth.  You still need experts in each School.  There needs to be some cross training too.  We have room for improvement in student graduation.  We can’t expect a different outcome with what we have now.

Question.  Nate Brunsell.  Trough previous meetings, we ‘re working through how to create this culture of shared governance.  You’ve alluded to the many years of financial cuts.  How do you see, all the programs that are cut, who gets the money first?  What is the role of governance to decide where these limited funds will get directed in the near future?

Answer.  We have to rely on data and see where our best opportunities are.  As we go through this reset, we will be developing a process.  We need to get things right and work together to keep the ball rolling.  As we are reducing, we also need to invest.  Data is important in informing our conversations. 

Question.  Ani Kokobobo.  I read a news story about rankings of campuses free speech.  As a faculty member, I became concerned.  I grappled with the meaning.  How can faculty facilitate more openness?  Should we be concerned, and should we take action on this?  Are you thinking about this?

Answer.  I haven’t read the article yet.  There are organizations that do this.  They look at policies.  If you have adopted the top-ranking policy and personalized for your School, they see that as not as committed to free speech.  I don’t know if this is what that study did.  We updated a free speech policy over the last 1.5 to 2 years.  Polling data supports this, there is a perception in America that campuses allow the speech they like.  Our policies are very strong.  We have not had a challenge to our policies to free speech. 

Question.  Maya Stiller.  What is your vision for all of humanities departments at KU?  Specifically, digital humanities?  I hired people outside of KU who had the skills for digital work. 

Answer.  We need to do a much better telling our story around humanities.  It is critical thinking and writing, important skills for jobs.  We need to lay out the data of how successful students are.  We need to change the perception of humanities.  We can arm students with technology skills.  We need to define digital humanities.  We need to partner with assets on campus.  I will share your thoughts with the provost.

Zoom Question.  Robert Waller.  Can you provide an update on campus plan regarding a new Watkins Health building complex in conjunction with KU Med.?

Answer.  We had an initiative going on for 18 months driven by philanthropic interests in mental health.  We’ve had a group of people at the table to discuss what a modern wellness center looks like.  Watkins was built in the 50s.  We’re thinking about an environment where a student can get several services:  health, mental health, dietary, stress relief, yoga…all under one roof.  A group has been working on what that will look like.  That work is going on this semester.  We hope with an Endowment campaign, we can bring all of that together. 

Question.  Hollie Hall.  When will the Jayhawk been revealed?

Julie Marray Answer—September 23 is the unveiling.    

Question.  We discussed earlier that we will have some news soon on employee dependent tuition assistance.  Do you have an update on that?

Answer.  There will be an announcement. They are working on some details and will hear about it soon.

This group has been working on it for five years.

Question:  Teri Chambers, Staff Senate.  We’ve lost staff and we’re doing more work.  Do you plan to bring more staff on board?  Will we work to retain staff? 

Answer.  Specifically, to the convention area, we will have to staff up the area.  We will have to have the infrastructure to support this.  We are trying to address the staff compensation issue.  The tuition assistance will be a benefit.  We need to get back to creating the environment we all want to be in.  It’s a great place to live and KU needs to get back to a great culture. 

Question on the Zoom.  Winter break and the staff—will they have the time off as in the previous years?

Answer.  In the past we shut down campus between the holidays.  We have some work to do there.  The Regents says we don’t have the authority to do that.  We are going to have to think how to work this out. 


Faculty Senate Report

Reporter: Nate Brunsell (Faculty Senate President)

Nate Brunsell shared his report, which was submitted with the meeting agenda.  Nate is working with KBOR on RPK review.

University Senate Report

Reporter: Ani Kokobobo (University Senate President)

Ani gave updates from her report.  On March 2, 2022, a resolution was approved for shared governance.  We’ve had multiple conversations since then.  There was a discussion to write a statement of care, define roles and responsibilities, processes and input, and financial disclosure and data.  In general, we’ve asked to be involved in search committees.  The plan is to continue to have discussions before things get implemented.  We’ll have a consensus around issues.  Academic Policies & Procedures has four discontinuance requests.  These are noncontroversial.  There will be a formal hearing for the undergraduate certificate in Holocaust Studies on September 28.  It hasn’t had many students and it’s possible those students will go into other Jewish Studies programs. 

Regarding Article 8 revisions, the draft is still active.  We hope to have language that before a program goes to discontinuance, there will be a program review, or at least some warning signs that the program could be discontinued.  Once the new process is established, we hope to make progress on Article 8 revisions. Last year, the public hearings were difficult.

We had five code revisions that were passed last year:  Committee membership language to include staff, all faculty in the Faculty Senate, compassionate withdrawal, academic support measures for those affected by sexual assault, and credit transfer hours.  I’d like to give us all a shout out for the work we did last year. 

We have two code revisions going now with the provost and chancellor.  One is about the academic calendar and one with language to the affect if a student has been penalized in a course for plagiarism, they can’t change the course to credit/no credit. These are from last year’s session There will be a public event about the support for students affected by sexual assault.  This will be done in October.  There will be a link for compassionate withdraw.

The university is implementing an all-funds approach.   Jeff DeWitt will be at a meeting to discuss this and other issues.  In addition, to help with the financial disclosure, we’ve asked him to speak to the Planning &Resources committee in the Spring.  He does a presentation to the Regents, and this will be right before that.  He’ll probably want to talk about the 5-year strategic plan. 

We’ve been part of several searches.  We were involved in Ombuds, and Ada Emmett was appointed Ombuds.  We met with all the candidates for the Vice Chancellor for Strategic Communications.  We expressed many things, most notably our ability to communicate with our constituents freely via email.  We have our own list of faculty and staff, not students.  The position was named today.  When we meet with candidates, we provide collective feedback.  We will meet with DEIB candidates.  We met with Title IX candidates over the summer.  Lauren McKown was hired.  The Dean of Libraries search is underway.  We’ll have a public forum in a couple of weeks.  The CLAS executive search is ongoing, and we hope to have candidates on campus in October.  No questions or comments on the searches.

Employee dependent tuition assistance – there has been a hard push for this.  Information will be forthcoming in the next weeks.  Building maintenance—the closure of Robinson pool and the demolition of Smith Hall—there is a campus master plan and consultants have been hired.  I will share information in the future as it is available.  Another ongoing issue is The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) for 2025, governance leaders have been involved.  We have representation on these groups.  Some of the evidence the university may have to submit involves policy and this may include some policy revision.  We’ve had some discussions on this.  If there are changes to the USSR and FSSR, we hope that we would have an opportunity to vote in the senates.  We hope to be included when these polices are discussed. 

This was announced in KU News, where much information is now distributed, rather than through email, though we will continue to use email.  KBOR passed a general education package.  The UCCC is trying to align this with our Core.  Core Goals 5 and 6 are affected.  We are optimistic we will be able to reserve our Core as is.  The gen ed package is motivated by the idea it will help transfer students come in. Most States have a uniform package and Kansas is an outlier. 

Thanks to those who came to the Shared Governance meeting in August.  We had the public forum with legal perspectives over the summer.  Nate and Ani will meet with different campus groups to improve advocacy. The staff survey implemented last Spring; the results are coming in October. The climate survey for faculty, some preliminary results are in.   A group, unclassified academic staff, was not included in the survey.  There is a solution being sought. A compensation study is going to take place soon.   Emporia State is implementing the KBOR workforce management plan.  We heard from the Chancellor yesterday that KU has no intention of using this policy.  There were no questions and comments.

Unfinished Business

Ani Kokobobo, University Senate President, welcomed everyone in attendance and on Zoom.  She welcomed the new senators.  She welcomed Suzanne Scales, new executive assistant.  We are interviewing to replace the administrative associate position.  Nate Brunsell is the faculty senate president.  Jessica Chilcoat is the new staff senate president.  Sadie Williams is the new student body president.  Alessia Garcia is student body vice president and Hollie Hall is graduate senate president. 

Sen Ex worked over the summer to update committee charges.  Amanda Mollet made a motion to approve the charges.  Chris Wallace seconded the motion.  None were opposed.  Motion passed.

University Senate - Sept. 8, 2022

Member for

1 year 8 months
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