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Dear Faculty,

I apologize for writing to you late on a Friday. But we’ve been working intently this week to finalize proposed revisions to our most important rules and regulations that we will take to the Board of Trustees next week. I wanted you to have the latest revisions as soon as they were available.

As I’ve talked with many of you over the last two months, I’ve been asked more than once why there seems to be such urgency in considering changes to our governance structure and many of our Governing Regulations.

Our Board of Trustees, to be sure, has directed us to act. They believe the progress we have made over the last decade, thanks in large measure to your outstanding work, has been remarkable.

But our state, they believe, is at an inflection point — where opportunities can only be seized, and challenges met, when our University accelerates its progress in advancing Kentucky.

At the same time, as I’ve talked to so many of you in meetings, I’ve also heard that there is a belief that our rules and regulations can be streamlined. They can be easier to understand and follow. 

And they can return more authority, for the things that matter most to the local level — the colleges and units that understand best the curriculum that prepares our students and the academic agendas that position our institution for progress. More specifically, our faculty at the local level will have even more responsibility for the development, review and implementation of curriculum.

Our current structure — and the guiding principles of our institution in the form of the GRs — don’t do that, now. We need rules and structures for shared governance that help, not hinder, our progress.

As difficult as change can be, it’s time to act. 

Next Friday, the Board of Trustees will consider significant revisions to our GRs. You can read all the proposed revisions to the Governing Regulations and Administrative Regulations, which are the management rules for how we carry out the GR principles, as well as a summary of them here.

I know some of you have expressed considerable concerns about the pace of changes and the specifics of them. I deeply respect your perspective and commitment to our community.

But I also believe it’s important to clarify areas of authority and responsibility that will change and those that won’t.

  • The Faculty Senate will be the official body of the faculty. We are proposing the transitioning of the University Senate, which is predominately faculty, to a structure exclusively composed of faculty.
  • Faculty still will have primacy over credit-bearing curriculum, promotion and tenure, searches, ethical standards of faculty, new program proposals and program closures.
  • More responsibility for curricular decisions will happen at the local level — the college or unit closest to those most impacted. 
  • The Provost will make decisions about credit-bearing curricular disputes and will consult with the Faculty Senate about those matters. 
  • The Provost also will engage in significant consultation with the Faculty Senate regarding the UK Core, whose impact stretches across so much of our campus. 
  • In fact, the revised Governing Regulations explicitly state the importance of ongoing consultation with the faculty on “curricular issues to ensure academic quality and further transdisciplinary collaboration.”
  • Primacy over baseline undergraduate admissions will transition from what is currently the University Senate to the Board. Colleges and programs that want to require more selective criteria, beyond the baseline University requirements, will continue through college-based decisions.  Similarly, graduate admission decisions will remain at the department, school and college levels.
  • Finally, I am proposing to the Board the creation of a President’s Council. It will have 12 members – four students, four faculty and four staff. The Council will provide me with feedback and advice on the most important issues at UK — our budget, our priorities, new ideas and initiatives that will help move us forward.

The Board of Trustees will consider these proposals on Friday, April 26. There will be another month of feedback from the community before a final review from Trustees at their next meeting in June. 

So many of you have inspired me throughout this process. You’ve been willing to step up and speak out about your community and your voice in it. 

And you have reinforced to me that, collectively, we have the power to make changes that matter. You have given us the imperative to do so. We have the moral responsibility, too, to act with what we’ve learned and what we know.

That’s what learning institutions do. They gather knowledge and use that knowledge to make things better. I believe that’s what we are doing together.

Eli Capilouto,