Board of Regents approves Diversity Plan

Regent Jack Rose gives his report to the Buildings and Grounds Committee.

News Editor

HOPKINSVILLE, Ky. – The Murray State Board of Regents unanimously approved the University Diversity Plan this afternoon at the quarterly meeting hosted at the regional campus location in Hopkinsville.

The plan was approved by the Council on Postsecondary Education last month, two years after a council mandate brought for each public state university to implement a plan.

University President Randy Dunn said today’s vote has a special meaning to him because of the amount of time Board members spent reviewing the nearly 40-page document yesterday at the Board retreat.

“It wasn’t a pro forma type vote,” he said. “They knew what was in (the plan).”

Prior to the vote, Dunn addressed the Board. He said plans like this one are necessary to pull in the support of all levels and all people Murray State encompasses.

“I really do think this can change the face of the University,” he said.

The five-year plan lays out strategies the University will take to promote diversity on campus.

Written by the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, it was developed through nearly weekly meetings, open forums and classroom visits, the document states.

The plan calls on four specific areas – student body diversity, student success, workforce diversity and campus climate.

As regents and audience members crowded the hallway outside the multipurpose room in which the vote was held, two smiling faces remained still in the surge of shaking hands and backslapping.

Commission co-chairs Jody Cofer and S.G. Carthell, who guided the plan through each of its phases, agreed that a policy of this magnitude takes a certain process to come into fruition.

“It’s another step forward,” Cofer said of the vote. “It’s been a long process.”

Carthell said there is still work to do.

“It’s a testament of what we’re trying to do here at Murray State, as far as moving in the right direction,” he said. “Now the work starts toward pulling the concepts of the plan together.”

Also at the meeting, the Board approved several operating policies, including one authorizing the University to take necessary disciplinary action against students who take part in off-campus activities that adversely affect students, University property or are harmful to the “objectives or purposes of the University or any of the University’s programs or operations.”

University Lawyer John Rall presented the policy change to the Board in the form of an amendment to the Board’s Code of Ethics Operating Policy.

Chairman of the Board Constantine Curris raised concerns of the amendment’s wording, saying it was too vague to be understood.

Rall explained that instances falling under the amendment would only be severe, such as a sexual assault or hate crime.

Dunn said the policy change was necessary, as it was written to protect students of the University at all times in all places.

“If there was a sexual assault on campus, and on the basis of that, if the victim felt harassed by that person being on campus, we would have the opportunity to take action for something that did not happen on campus,” Dunn said.

The policy change was unanimously approved.

The Board also confirmed revisions to the 2012-2018 Capital Plan and Biennial Capital Budget Request for the CPE.

Buildings and Grounds Committee Chair Jack Rose presented the request, which ranks building projects by order of importance.

The new list ranks the completion of the Science Complex as first and moves the renovation to the campus electrical distribution system to second and the new library project as third.

Ranking fourth is a University agreement toward shared space in a new education building in Madisonville that will be owned by the Madisonville Community and Technical College, but shared with Murray State.

The list ranks a new Breathitt Veterinary building as sixth and the Paducah extended campus project as seventh.

Also added to the list were a renovation of Ordway Hall and the razing of Woods Hall.

Newly appointed Regent Jenny Sewell pointed out to the Board, while it looked as though the Paducah project had moved down in importance (previously ranked third), it is still critical.

Rose explained he chose to keep it on the list in case the Paducah project did not get underway in the amount of time the CPE allotted, meaning the proposal would need to seek state approval a second time.