Petrino contract, all items approved at Board of Regents committee meeting

Taylor Harrison

At the Board of Regents committee meeting on Friday afternoon, there was one action item that needed approval that’s been causing a stir lately.

Athletics director Todd Stewart presented Bobby Petrino’s contract to the board, and it was approved without much discussion. Because it was approved at the committee meeting, it will be brought to the full board meeting in January for a vote.

Patti Minter, faculty regent, said there could be more discussion regarding the contract at January’s meeting. She also said she has been getting a lot of feedback about Petrino’s recent hiring.

“I am getting a lot of feedback, as you might imagine, from my faculty constituency, as well as from people in the community and students, and I’m listening to what my constituents have to say and will certainly take all of that into consideration at the January meeting,” Minter said.

Minter also said there are some issues and serious concerns that need to be taken into account. She said some concerns have been raised to her about the moral implications of the new hire. According to Yahoo! Sports, Petrino admitted to having an inappropriate relationship with Jessica Dorrell, whom he hired as the student-athlete development coordinator for the football team when he was the coach for the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“It’s a huge decision, and it has tremendous implications for the future of the university,” Minter said.

Stewart also brought forward an information item that provided details regarding the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26. He mentioned two packages that will be provided — for $50, students will get a ticket, round-trip bus transportation and a hotel room. For other fans, the same package will be $150.

“Obviously, we’re very excited about the opportunity to be in our first bowl game,” Stewart said.

Gordon Emslie, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, discussed retention, and Brian Meredith, associate vice president for enrollment management, gave an enrollment report.

As of Dec. 10, 2012, winter term enrollment for 2013 was down 54 students from where it was a year ago. However, there are 38 more freshmen than there were a year ago.

As far as spring enrollment, total enrollment was down 342 students as of Dec. 10, and the freshmen numbers were down 172. Emslie said continuing freshmen are an area of concern with regard to retention.

Meredith and Emslie both said enrollment numbers are constantly changing.

“It changes minute by minute, hour by hour,” Meredith said.

Emslie said it’s important to re-engage continuing freshmen after being away from campus for more than a month.

To do this, Joelle Davis Carter, assistant vice president for retention, said they are planning a “phone-a thon” in January. They plan to use students to call other students, mainly freshmen and some sophomores, and have informal phone calls to discuss how their first semester went and answer any questions students may have.

“We’re going to be making phone calls every day, peer to peer, and we’re hoping that’s going to be a key part of re-engagement,” Carter said.

Despite lower numbers in enrollment, Emslie said he’s hesitant to really call it a drop because the numbers change often.

“Even if this number was positive, I wouldn’t rest and say, ‘Great,’” Emslie said. “Because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Another item that was approved at the meeting was the revisions to the intellectual property policy. Gordon Baylis, vice president for research, said one reason for the revisions is to make it a simpler process.

“That’s the main change,” Baylis said. “It should be just easier.”

He said the policy is in place to make sure that people who come up with an invention — like a new app or device — will get the appropriate reward for that.

The revisions are largely administrative changes to clarify who’s responsible for the process and how it should be managed, he said.

An action item for a new floristry undergraduate minor was also approved at the meeting. It will be a 21-credit hour minor.

All the finance and budget action items were also approved.