Friday, July 06, 2001

UK reduces chain of command

Trustees back new president's decision to focus on outreach

By Steve Bailey
The Associated Press

        LEXINGTON — The executive committee of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees on Thursday authorized a sweeping administrative reorganization initiated by new President Lee Todd.

        The principal change involves reducing the number of officials reporting directly to the president from eight chancellors and vice presidents to a provost and three vice presidents.

        The reorganization will make the administrative processes more effective and efficient at the university, Mr. Todd said.

        “This is to streamline things so I can push as much responsibility down the ladder and decentralize decision making as much as I can so I can be free to go out and do the outreach work that is so important to this university,” Mr. Todd said after a meeting of the executive committee. “We haven't sold our mission as much within the state or across the nation as I think we should.”

        Four current university divisions — athletics, development, legal and a newly created office of vice president of corporate relations and economic outreach — will continue to report directly to Mr. Todd.

        Two other groups — a Commission on the Status of Women and a Commission for Diversity — will be created in the coming months to meet regularly and share their findings and recommendations with Mr. Todd.

        “We're going to make a commitment to be a champion of these issues,” Mr. Todd said. “We've made some progress over the years, but not nearly enough. I don't just want to meet goals; I want to exceed them.”

        Mr. Todd named Michael Nietzel, currently the dean of UK's graduate studies, as the university's acting provost and Jack Blanton, a 26-year UK business officer and former state budget director and analyst, as the acting senior vice president for administration.

        He also tapped James Boling, the school's current vice chancellor for research, as the acting vice president for research.

        All three positions will be permanently filled by candidates culled from national searches, but no timetable has been set for those hirings, Mr. Todd said.

        James Holsinger, current chancellor of the Chandler Medical Center, also was given the title senior vice president and chancellor of the medical center.

        Mr. Todd additionally unveiled plans to create a Top 20 task force — charged with developing and recommending criteria that the university will use to assess its progress toward becoming one of the nation's 20 premier public research institutions — and a task force on UK's future, which will make recommendations regarding research, creative endeavor and academic priorities.

        After a brief presentation by Mr. Todd detailing the new system, executive committee members unanimously authorized the changes and expressed their full support of the reorganization plan.

        “I think all of Kentucky will be proud to see the speed in which you are working and that you have the welfare of the entire state of Kentucky on your mind as you plan for the university's future,” trustee Steven Reed said.

        After the executive committee meeting, Mr. Todd met with UK administrators and faculty in a large theater at the UK Student Center to explain the changes.

        “It's a great day for the University of Kentucky,” trustee Marian Sims said. “He's so fresh and so open that it's difficult not to get caught up in the things he's saying.”


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