Few on UK campus respond to survey about Capilouto

Faculty less positive than students, staff

lblackford@herald-leader.com and ctruman@herald-leader.comMay 4, 2011 

University of Kentucky staff and students had a more positive reaction to UK's next president, Eli Capilouto, than did faculty members, according to survey results based on Capilouto's one official visit to campus on Monday.

The UK Board of Trustees voted 19-0 to hire Capilouto, the University of Alabama at Birmingham provost, on Tuesday. He was introduced as the sole finalist in the search Sunday night and came to campus on Monday. None of the other finalists' names was made public.

The response rate of the online surveys was extremely low. Forty students of UK's total population of 28,037 completed the survey, along with 166 faculty out of 2,165 and 129 staffers out of roughly 12,000.

Each group — faculty, staff and students — was given different sets of questions. For example, 73 percent of the 129 responding staff members had a positive response to the question, "Do you agree this candidate possesses the leadership style and management skills necessary to operate this complex operation?"

But only 50 percent of the staffers gave positive responses when asked whether the candidate conveyed a clear vision for the university.

Fifty-four percent of the 166 faculty responses said they were confident Capilouto could provide outstanding academic leadership and vision. Just 51 percent were confident he would engage faculty in decision-making; a sizeable percentage, according to the survey results, said they could not judge. Fifty-seven percent said they were confident in Capilouto's commitment to the academic mission as it relates to UK's land-grant status.

Capilouto said Tuesday he had seen some of the comments and understood there were some reservations about his vision for UK.

"I just look forward to working with them and letting them better understand and know me," he said of those with reservations.

"Any specificity they didn't hear was out of respect for the people I've encountered," he said.

The comments from the survey results were not released, but "overarching themes" from the faculty responses were listed by UK. Faculty cited Capilouto's strong academic credentials and said he had "outstanding personal skills," such as listening and integrity.

But concern was expressed over the lack of transparency in the overall selection process and over Capilouto's lack of specific answers to challenges posed by faculty questions.

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