Education

Dispute simmers over how UK data gets to trustees

Irina Voro, the faculty trustee on the UK board, at her office in the UK Fine Arts building in Lexington, Ky. Thursday August 11, 2011. Photos by Brooke DiDonato | Staff
Irina Voro, the faculty trustee on the UK board, at her office in the UK Fine Arts building in Lexington, Ky. Thursday August 11, 2011. Photos by Brooke DiDonato | Staff

A faculty representative on the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees is wrangling with the administration over how information is provided to trustees.

Just before last weekend's board retreat, Irina Voro read an article about administrative bloat in American universities. On Wednesday, she sent an email to Kim Wilson, UK's vice president of human resources, asking for the number of UK administrators, minus names and salaries.

On Thursday, Wilson responded that she understood all requests for information were to go through board chairman Britt Brockman before they would be granted.

On Saturday, at the board retreat, the board informally agreed that all information requests should go through President Eli Capilouto's chief of staff so administrators wouldn't have to respond to multiple questions. Although Brockman said there was no dissent, Voro said she objected.

He said it was not a matter of denying Voro the information, merely making sure it wasn't duplicated.

Voro polled faculty members after the retreat.

"I represent you, and the issue of good governance is so sharply defined here: it's not about this particular individual, it's about our bloated administration being its old arrogant self," she wrote in an email to faculty. "Your trustee was denied the right of information and thus was effectively denied the fiduciary right of oversight.

On Monday, Voro said she still had not received the administrator data.

Voro referenced a talk given by state Auditor Crit Luallen at the Council on Postsecondary Education trustees conference in which Luallen talked about the importance of vigilant board members.

Luallen said Monday she understood that, in most cases, having a central place for requesting and dispensing information is far more efficient.

"But board members should have the right and ability to access any information they believe they need," she said. "You wouldn't want to stifle a board member's ability to access information."

The issue also has been complicated because Voro polled the faculty on whether Wilson's position should be cut, not on centralized information flow.

Brockman said information requests have always gone through the chairman in the 31/2 years he's been on the board, and Wilson did nothing wrong, he said.

At the retreat, "we had an informal discussion, and everyone agreed to that in order to facilitate a smoother process," Brockman said.

Another efficiency shortcut is a confidentiality agreement board members must sign, which is in effect for their entire terms. The form requires trustees to maintain confidentiality and warns that failure to do so could result in legal liability.

Brockman said board members previously had to sign these forms every time they went into executive session.

"We felt it would be more efficient to sign one form," he said.

  Comments