University Senate holds special meeting following forums

Monica Kast

The University Senate met in a special-called meeting on Thursday to discuss its meetings with preferred presidential candidate Tim Caboni.

Doug Smith, an alternate senator who made the motion for the special-called meeting, said he wanted the meeting because he knew faculty and staff members had concerns about the candidate and closed search.

“I know things aren’t perfect,” Smith said, later adding he thought the search committee might be “interested in feedback.”

Senator Mac McKerral was the first to speak, and said he thought it was “important that [Caboni] knows a little about us.”

“I’ll give him all the chance in the world, but I think he needs to understand from our perspective what he’s walking into,” McKerral said.

McKerral referenced the lack of faculty compensation and lack of higher education funding as major issues Caboni would have to address. McKerral and other senators also said they would have preferred an open search.

“He said he valued transparency, but he was the product of a closed search,” McKerral said.

Senator Audrey Anton expressed concern that Caboni said he wanted to “graduate every single student.” She said she felt he was putting that responsibility onto the faculty and that it was unrealistic.

Other senators, however, were more optimistic. Senator Lauren McClain said the meetings with Caboni gave her “confidence,” and she felt he was “open to working with us.” McClain said she felt Caboni could “be the solution.”

“I don’t think we can expect him to come in knowing all the things we think are important,” McClain said.

McClain added Caboni had expressed interest in reviewing reports from the University Senate.

“We need him on our side,” McClain said.

Faculty Regent Barbara Burch was in attendance at the meeting, and she spoke briefly about the search process and results.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that many of us…wanted the search to be open,” Burch said.

Later, she added she felt the Board had “learned a lot” through this process, and the faculty could play an important part in the transition to a new president.

“I think that the opportunities are huge for the faculty to play a role in a meaningful, significant way,” Burch said.

Senator Patti Minter motioned regent Burch give a message to Caboni from the University Senate welcoming him to campus. Minter also motioned a formal document be drafted at a later date, “conveying our hopes and concerns” to Caboni. The motion passed, and the document will be written by senators before the end of the spring semester.

Reporter Monica Kast can be reached at 270-745-0655 and [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @monicakastwku.