UK Board Chair Makes Curious Statement

Interim University of Kentucky Board Chairman, Billy Joe Miles, made an interesting statement to the Herald-Leader’s Cheryl Truman yesterday.

Take a look:

Miles said he encouraged Todd to renew his contract. He said Todd “rated in the high 90s” on his job performance, which a trustees executive committee was to discuss Thursday.

Maybe we’re hyper-sensitive to reading between the lines, but, uh, isn’t that a little questionable? The Chairman of the Board of Trustees disclosing a performance rating that hadn’t so much has been discussed or assigned? Or, if the performance rating has already been assigned by the Chairman, does this mean the rest of the Board is made up of useless rubber stamps?

Inquiring minds want to know. Because announcing the outcome of a Board meeting that hasn’t taken place is amazing.

Anyone wondering why performance evaluations for Todd from faculty and staff haven’t been discussed? I hear they’re less than stellar, to say the least. I also hear faculty & staff evaluations were, as a whole, treated as a single trustee evaluation. Meaning the entirety of UK’s faculty & staff only carries the weight of 5% of the trustee power. Thought you folks would like to chew on that in light of the news that Todd’s bonus is essentially being shifted to his base pay.

Those UK Rumors? They're True

Rumors are swirling all over concerning University of Kentucky president Lee Todd’s 3:00 P.M. presser today.

He says he’s set to announce changes in UK’s administration.

Those changes? He’s stepping down/retiring.

I hear the Board of Trustees sees this as a solid move for avoiding problems just under the surface, which we’ve hinted at in the past.

UK Trustee On The Latest USNWR Ranking

I’ve been hollering about college rankings a good deal lately. I think a lot of rankings/ratings are bunk because every student and educational situation is unique.

But here’s another take on things from University of Kentucky trustee Joe Peek. From a recent email blast:

Admit nothing, deny everything, and make counter-accusations

Another irritation concerns the US News & World Report college rankings that came out this week. Certainly, we are all disappointed in our ranking of 129, placing us in the bottom tier of SEC schools. But the most irritating aspect for me is that we are making no measurable progress. Instead, our ranking has drifted steadily downward in recent years. Yes, we are underfunded, but so are our competitors.

But even more aggravating was a memo to members of the BOT from President Todd (I get lots of interesting memos now!) trying to explain away our ranking. Yes, the USN&WR rankings are flawed; but every ranking of anything is flawed to some degree. How can many dimensions be precisely compressed into a single number? Still, the USN&WR rankings are the most respected and widely known college rankings; and other external, respectable rankings paint much the same picture. Is UK really number 129? Perhaps we are 119 or 139; but in any case, even with the lack of precision of the rankings, we can be pretty sure we are not 49 or 69, or even 89. But the comment in President Todd’s memo that got to me the most was:

“It is important to emphasize that these rankings systems focus on undergraduate education. As a result, significant aspects of our University’s mission – graduate education, research, and public service – are not addressed in either set of rankings. The exclusive attention given to undergraduate education offers an advantage to many of the independent institutions.”

Perhaps I am totally out of touch (not to mention totally out of my mind), but I had always thought that undergraduate education was at the core of a land-grant institution’s mission. And our competitors similarly emphasize graduate education, research, and public service, each an important component of what we should be doing. So forget the “Top 20” for a moment. Instead, let’s look at the 11 SEC public universities. Here are the USN&WR 2011 rankings:

  • Florida: 53
  • Georgia: 56
  • Alabama: 79
  • Auburn: 85
  • Tennessee: 104
  • S. Carolina: 111
  • LSU: 124
  • UK: 129
  • Arkansas: 132
  • Ole Miss: 143
  • Miss. State: 151

It’s pretty clear who our peers are. And we can’t wave off the much better rankings of schools like Alabama, Auburn, and Georgia because of their “exclusive attention to undergraduate education.” Facts don’t cease to exist because UK administrators choose to ignore them. My personal view is that we could, and should, be doing much better. We are supposed to be Kentucky’s flagship university; it is about time we start acting like it.

Interesting take, no?

Peek had some good advice about financials at UK in that same blast. Read that after the jump…

Read moreUK Trustee On The Latest USNWR Ranking

Fancy Newspaper Lady Is Really Mad, Kids

Gail Collins, of The New York Times, is just an expert on Kentucky who knows everything, forever, amen, but she has a you-know-what for Rand Paul.

From her latest:

But some of the current charges are trivial in the extreme. In Kentucky, Rand Paul has been attacked for failing to correct an interviewer who said Paul had graduated from Baylor University when, in fact, he got early admittance at Duke medical school that made it unnecessary for him to complete his undergraduate requirements. Get a life, Rand Paul critics.

Meanwhile, GQ published an article about Paul’s college days that suggested he got out of Baylor not a minute too soon. It quoted one unnamed woman as saying that he and his friends had tied her up, blindfolded her and told her to smoke pot and give homage to an idol named Aqua Buddha. On Wednesday, the woman reappeared and clarified the whole saga for Greg Sargent of The Washington Post.

“The whole thing has been blown out of proportion,” she said. It simply involved a kind of hazing, in a room filled with pot smoke, followed by a trip where Paul and his pals “took me out to this creek and made me worship Aqua Buddha.”

I hope this is entirely clear now, Kentucky. Stop all this loose talk about Rand Paul kidnapping a coed and making her take drugs. It isn’t true! Calm down and focus on the bigger issues, like jobs and taxes and which candidate for the Senate has the longest history of forcing people to bow down before idols.

I love it when people like Gail, a Kentucky political genius and anger bear who doesn’t even need a map when visiting the Bluegrass, write things like this. And when they wholly ignore the fact that the play-kidnappy lady still says the incident took place and that it was such a horrible experience she 100% cut ties with her pal, Randy, forever.

Tour UK's New Emergency Department

Normal people (those not living in Louisville) are familiar with the University of Kentucky’s Chandler Medical Center. And most are aware that UK’s got a fancy new emergency department.

So let’s take a video tour of the impressive new facility:

Big news for UK and the state, really.

471 UK Faculty Stick It To President Lee Todd

Ah, the sound of 471 University of Kentucky faculty sticking it to President Lee Todd.

Last friday the UK faculty Senate announced that Dr. Joe Peek (check out his campaign website and watch the videos) was elected overwhelmingly (nearly 3-to-1 over the incumbent, 471 to 174) to one of the two faculty seats on the Board of Trustees.

All fine and dandy, right? That’s what I thought until I dug a little deeper. Here’s what I learned from some UK folks…

Dr. Peek is a distinguished and internationally-known economist. That’s not in doubt. But for roughly three years he was publicly mocking and ridiculing Lee Todd and his administration. Called him everything under the sun. Referred to the Board as spineless and rubber-stamping.  And he’s now risen to a position of power.

Peek’s predecessor, well-known political science professor Ernie Yanarella, served two terms and is anything but a Todd lackey. He could have easily kept his seat representing the faculty. But people are allegedly so ticked off with Todd that they decided to send him a strong message with the election of Peek. That message is almost as bad as a vote of no-confidence.

UK’s PR folks have worked to try to spin the results of the election, but there’s just no way to say it isn’t bad news for Todd. I hear any number of issues are about to surface. Including, but not limited to: the issue of fraudulent self-rankings Todd gave himself, extraordinary secrecy in decision making, massive salary increases for administrators, issues of alleged administrative bullying, financial shenanigans and even alleged felonious cover-ups of Rober Felner proportions (yes, I have been digging – and I hear from through the grapevine this is one of the reasons Ryan Alessi was originally moved to Higher Ed at the H-L).

For eight years the faculty kept quiet with just an occasional elbow at Todd. But this is a true ruh ro moment.

Maybe now – after years of secrecy and hair-pulling – I can finally get my hands on the documents I’ve been refused.  Maybe we’ll have answers once and for all.

Oh. Guess which newspaper is ignoring this big UK election? The Courier-Journal. Imagine that. Shades of the Felner scandal surfacing in 2010.

Take a “peek” at Peek’s post-election email to supporters after the jump…

Read more471 UK Faculty Stick It To President Lee Todd