Spring meeting of the UT Board of Trustees
The importance of diversity, our efforts regarding sexual assault prevention, and the status of the state’s facilities management initiative are among several important matters our Board of Trustees heard about at its spring meeting.
I want to highlight a few of the items discussed:
Diversity and Inclusion — I and others stressed the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts across the UT system. In my report to the full Board, I noted the good foundation laid by our efforts to help more people understand what diversity means at UT.
We plan to conduct a system-wide diversity climate survey in 2017 toward developing a snapshot of campus life and experiences. The information will be used to improve diversity and inclusion at all our campuses and institutes.
Sexual assault awareness and prevention — We’re working diligently to ensure continual progress in this area, and I summarized for trustees numerous measures by our campuses in recent years, including:
- Enhanced prevention and awareness programs and educational resources to support and better educate students on sexual violence
- Adopted comprehensive policies on sexual misconduct, relationship violence and stalking
- Created centralized websites where students and employees can easily find comprehensive information about campus policies and resources
- Revised its student code of conduct to ensure compliance with Title IX and the Clery Act
Outsourcing — The University awaits cost savings validation in the State’s ongoing facilities outsourcing discussion. The opportunity to opt out will remain even after state costs have been validated and compared, and vendor proposals received. Chancellors of each campus will determine whether to pursue outsourcing and, if so, each will justify the approach to the University and our Board.
Succession planning — With 40 percent of the University’s 103 senior leaders retirement-eligible in the next five years, this has become a critical need. Through a request-for-proposals process, we have selected The Oliver Group of Louisville, Kentucky to help create the planning model and implement it as a pilot on one of our campuses. After that pilot process, UT human resources will roll out the succession planning model across the System.
Executive Searches — We have formally suspended the search for a new executive vice president due to the search’s timing and that of discussions of possible legislative action related to the reorganization of our Board; concerns of expanding administrative costs; and lack of depth in the candidate pool.
The search for the next Chancellor at UT Martin is formally underway with a 20-member search committee led by UTC Chancellor Steve Angle. As of early this week, the search had received 20 candidate nominations and six formal applications. I encourage you to nominate highly qualified candidates you believe would be a good fit for the position. I hope to recommend a candidate to our Board of Trustees at its fall 2016 meeting and to fill the position by the end of the year. More information is at www.tennessee.edu
Ron Maples has been interim UT System CFO and treasurer since the retirement of Butch Peccolo at the end of 2015. I am grateful to Ron for his excellent leadership and plan to initiate a search for a permanent replacement soon. I will update you further as plans develop.
UT Martin Accreditation — UT Martin Interim Chancellor Bob Smith outlined steps the campus is taking toward removing probationary status from its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The status was the result of lacking documentation of work to address five recommendations following a SACS campus visit in 2013. UT Martin has been transparent in its work to satisfy accreditor expectations and plans to submit a follow-up report in fall 2016. The report is expected to remove the probationary status. The SACS Commission on Colleges returns to UT Martin for a site visit in October and is to issue its recommendation in December.
Honorary Doctoral Degree — The Board approved UT Knoxville’s request to award an honorary doctoral degree to Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Thom Mason during spring 2016 commencement. Mason has been director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory since 2007, and through the UT-Battelle partnership, UT has co-managed ORNL since 2000.
For more detailed information, please go to www.tennessee.edu, where you can find the news release or watch the archived webcast of the full board meeting.