University of Kentucky president gets high marks — but no bonus because of fiscal climate

lblackford@herald-leader.comSeptember 11, 2012 

Pres. Eli Capilouto addresses participants at the kick-off of the UK FUSION program at Pieratt Student Recreation Field on the UK campus in Lexington, Ky., Monday, August 20, 2012. Photo by Matt Goins

MATT GOINS — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

President Eli Capilouto received a largely positive review for his first year at the University of Kentucky, praised for his leadership skills at a time of great change.

Board of Trustees chairman Britt Brockman said the board would have liked to give Capilouto a performance bonus for "extraordinary" work on facilities and undergraduate education but decided not to because of UK's difficult fiscal climate.

"I appreciate your financial stewardship" with regard to new residence halls and building up money for academic buildings and more scholarships, trustee James Stuckert said at a meeting of the board's executive committee. "I personally have to say I'm just very happy to be an advocate for the University of Kentucky with your leadership showing a wonderful example."

Capilouto has set two major priorities: reinvigorating undergraduate education and improving the physical plant, particularly residence halls. He has initiated a partnership with a private development company to build more than $500 million worth of new housing; the first dorm is under construction.

Brockman said there were some areas of constructive criticism from board members and the campus community about the need for better communication during such crises as layoffs. In June, Capilouto laid off about 1 percent of the work force, which seemed to be handled differently by different departments and units. Also noted was the need to fill key leadership positions, such as provost, executive vice president for finance and lead counsel.

"When you have a change agenda, the communication process needs to be open, transparent, and more is better," Brockman said.

During the full board meeting, faculty trustee Irina Voro abstained from voting to accept the evaluation because she said she polled faculty members this summer and received mostly negative reviews about Capilouto's performance.

"I find this faculty opinion was not adequately represented in the overall evaluation," she said.

The evaluation report was compiled by former West Virginia University president David Hardesty, who was paid $9,000 for his work.

He sent a survey of 19 questions to faculty, staff, students and donors, and received 33 responses. The surveys asked questions with answers ranging from 1 to 5. Capilouto's score was 4.3.

For example, on the statement "The President has effectively worked with key constituents to identify the reality UK currently faces," Capilouto received an average score of 4.7. On the statement, "The President is building and developing a management team needed to drive the university's future success," he received a 3.9.

"Any success we've had around here has been because of 'we,'" Capilouto said Tuesday. "I'm grateful for the feedback and I recognize we'll work harder to communicate what we're doing on behalf of students and the state."

Linda Blackford: (859) 231-1359. Twitter: @lbblackford.

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