Amid complaints that the University of Kentucky administration was not clear about its long-term vision for development, a consultant told the Board of Trustees on Friday that university President Eli Capilouto should give an annual State of the University address.
The recommendation was part of a yearly presidential performance review that surveyed faculty, trustees, students, donors and others. The trustees voted to accept the report and to consider its recommendations, which also included making Capilouto's inner circle more diverse and improving communication between the president and the board.
"(The report) will give us an opportunity to help the president ... and to help the university in the long run," said Oliver Keith Gannon, board of trustees chairman.
The report had surveyed campus leaders and others to talk about Capilouto's vision, his financial skills, his management skills and his leadership characteristics.
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Though largely positive, the report was sprinkled with mild criticism, namely that the administration's long-term vision for the university is not entirely clear. Carol Cartwright with AGB Consulting, which created the review, said many people were impressed with developments around campus, but did not see any "holistic vision."
"A vision, holistic ideas ... that's what we've been doing," board member James Stuckert said. "I just find that amazing."
The State of the University address would be a way to keep campus in the loop and let students, staff and faculty understand why the widespread construction and other developments are happening, Cartwright said.
"Use the speech to celebrate accomplishments of the prior year and set forth the agenda for the new year in the context of the vision and strategic plan," Cartwright said.
Some of the people surveyed also said they wished Capilouto would take advice from a larger circle of people, and some criticized the university management in general.
"Overall UK management culture is described as 'clunky' and can hamper decision making," Cartwright said.
However, most people said Capilouto was a strong manager willing to make difficult decisions if it will benefit UK in the long run.
"We're fortunate to have a president like this one," said Edward Britt Brockman, a board member.
The board did as expected and approved the $3.4 billion budget on Friday. Here are the highlights:
■ The starting salary for all staff increased to a $10 per hour minimum, and faculty and staff will see a 3.5 percent merit pool increase.
■ The budget allows for a record $103 million for institutional scholarships and financial aid, almost double what UK gave in 2011. Most of this goes toward merit-based grants, rather than need-based grants, but 35 percent of the incoming in-state freshman class is eligible for federal Pell grants, which are need-basesd.
■ Debt payments for construction projects will take 2.86 percent of next year's total budget, about $76 million. Last year, debt payments for construction, which includes an expanding medical center and a new science building, made up 3.25 percent of the total budget.
■ The budget reflects the enormous growth of UK Healthcare, which is now a $1.3 billion enterprise, $200 million more than last year. UK Healthcare takes up 41 percent of the total budget.
■ State funding continues to decrease. The state now provides just 8 percent of UK's budget, the lowest share ever. At $280 million a year, state funding has been cut $55 million since 2008.
In other business that came before the trustees Friday:
■ The university's alcohol policy became slightly more lenient. UK will allow alcohol at certain Greek events and tailgates before UK football games, but alcohol is still not allowed in residence halls.
■ Capilouto announced that Terry Allen, associate vice president for institutional equity, will become the interim vice president for institutional diversity, replacing Judy Jackson. "Terry brings to this role a deep and long-standing commitment to our university," Capilouto said.
■ Four board members' terms ended on Friday: student body president Jake Ingram, Bill Gatton, Barbara Young and James Stuckert. "You're all my friends," Young told the board. Stuckert said that he, Gatton and Young all pledged Greek organizations at UK during the same year, and that to leave the board with his pledge mates seemed fitting.