The Independent Student Newspaper of Northern Kentucky University.

Faculty Senate engages Board of Regents on transparency, responsibility

May 7, 2023


Mildred Nguyen

The Faculty Senate voted to amend some of the language in the statement on engagement at their May 5 meeting.

The Faculty Senate voted to amend a statement on engagement with the Board of Regents on May 5, their last meeting of the semester.

The senate originally discussed the possibility of a no-confidence vote against the board at a meeting held April 24. A vote of no confidence calls into question whether an individual in a governing or managing position is still fit to hold that position. There was little consensus in the senate on the no-confidence vote, according to Faculty Senate President John Farrar, who calls the vote “an extreme measure.” The statement on engagement was thus drafted and distributed to senate members this Monday.

The statement attempts to capture the faculty’s grievances with the board in a constructive manner while presenting concrete steps for the faculty and regents to work together, Farrar said in an email.

“We believe that the Board shares the faculty’s commitment to the well-being of the university. Nonetheless, several decisions made by the Board weaken the confidence of the faculty that the Board shares our understanding of the core values and mission of NKU,” the statement reads.

In the statement, the Faculty Senate attributes part of the university’s financial struggles to the failure of regents to review and act upon information presented to them in quarterly financial statements on NKU’s revenues and expenditures. Another contributing factor, according to the statement, is the presidential search process where finalists do not have to publicly present to the campus community.

The statement also levies criticism against decisions that have eventually terminated one-sixth of full-time faculty positions at NKU over three years and left several academic programs to be taught solely by part-time adjunct lecturers.

“Recently, the Board offered raises to certain athletic coaches just one week after 23 tenure-line faculty members were paid to resign and 17 additional faculty members were laid off. This decision and its timing suggest the success of the basketball program is more important to the Board than the success of the academic programs that have been devastated by cuts,” the statement reads.

As NKU has officially authorized the search for a new president, the Faculty Senate calls for the meaningful inclusion of faculty, staff and students into the search process, allowing members of the NKU community to attend finalist presentations and have their input acknowledged before a candidate decision is made.

This recommendation is one of four proposals on building the relationship between the Board of Regents and the faculty body, which are included at the end of the statement. The other proposals insist that the board respect the role of the faculty in the shared governance of NKU, receive regular updates from the Faculty Senate and Staff Congress, and engage with campus groups by having individual regents attend events like Celebration of Student Research and Creativity, Experiential Learning Week and Academic Affairs Faculty and Staff Awards. The senate voted to amend some of the language in these proposals at the May meeting.

Farrar has informally sent the final draft to Chair of the Board Rich Boehne—who in turn has forwarded it to the rest of the board and the Presidential Search Committee—President Bonita Brown and Provost Matt Cecil, with a formal announcement of the statement planned soon.

The Board of Regents values and has an overall terrific relationship with the faculty in spite of the disagreements, Boehne said. The board will discuss the statement at their coming meeting on June 14.

The full statement can be viewed here.

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