WKU Regents bylaw could impose further term limits

Katherine Wade

The Board of Regents made revisions to its bylaws and operating procedures for the first time in a decade this summer, and further changes could be on the way.

At the July 29 meeting, the language of the bylaws was updated to reflect modern technology such as email, include committee items in the agenda and make all members of the board non-voting members of all committees.

Additionally, term limits could be imposed on faculty and staff Regents.

Currently, nine of the 11 Regents have statutory term limits, but faculty and staff regents do not.

None of the other seven four-year state universities in Kentucky have term limits on their faculty and staff regents, according to Faculty Regent Patricia Minter’s faculty report.

The current term for faculty and staff regents is three years. Once that term is up, an election among the entire faculty and staff determines whether or not they return to the board.

In an email to faculty and staff, President Gary Ransdell said the board must follow statutory mandates, but it does have the option to add internal policies, such as when they initiated term limits for the chair and vice-chair Regents several years ago.

The matter was discussed at the Board of Regents meeting in July, but Board Chair Freddie Higdon decided to put it on hold until a group representative of faculty and staff members could weigh in on the decision.

Ransdell approached Diane Carver, chair of the Staff Council, and Kelly Madole, president of the University Senate, to discuss the issue and return a recommendation to the board.

Carver said the staff council met and made a recommendation, which they have passed on to Ransdell.

Carver declined to comment on what the staff council recommendation was.

Madole said the University Senate decided to refer the matter to the Faculty Welfare Committee, which then made the recommendation that there should not be term limits put on the faculty Regent.

That recommendation will now be put before the University Senate at its meeting on Thursday. Once the vote takes place the final recommendation will be given to Ransdell.

Madole said the committee made that recommendation because they do not think it is necessary to have term limits.

“There is no reason to put on artificial term limits because we already have the responsibility to vote them in,” she said. “If we don’t want  someone to continue or to vote someone in, we won’t. The process seems to be working fine.”

Overall, Ransdell said the changes were a healthy exercise for the board.

“So much has changed in terms of communication and how a complex organization conducts business in the past 10 years,” Ransdell said.