The University Board of Regents heard updated enrollment numbers at their Sept. 7 meeting, along with several key reports, including a proposed enhancement project on Ky. Hwy. 121.
The report from enrollment management indicated an overall increase in students. According to a fall comparison document, 14 days into the semester there was an increase of 417 students from last fall. First time freshmen increased by 94 students. The total enrollment for the fall semester is currently slightly above 10,700 students.
Fred Dietz, executive director of enrollment management, said the University has had a 5.9 percent increase since fall 2009.
“This is quite an accomplishment and represents a lot of hard work by the entire Murray State community,” he said.
President Randy Dunn said he was pleased with the results. In an unofficial survey the University conducted, numbers at neighboring universities either remained unchanged with the new semester or dropped.
“One of our strongest regional competitors for regional students, obviously, is SIU Carbondale,” Dunn said after the meeting. “They’re down a thousand, almost. They took a big hit.”
The Kentucky Department of Highways (KDOH) is proposing to widen Hwy. 121 from 12th Street to Bailey Road. The project will include widening the road to five lanes from 12th Street to the east entrance into the CFSB Center and four lanes with a divided median from the east entrance of the basketball facility to 16th Street.
Kim Oatman, director of facilities management, said KDOH had to purchase some land and easements from Murray State in order to do the widening.
“The land that they purchased is small strips of land along the edge of the existing highway,” he said. “The easements are also strips of land next to the highway that will be used for utilities and for the highway construction. Some of the easements are temporary and some are permanent.”
Oatman also said Murray State is going to try to work with KDOH to install decorative lighting and signal poles like those on 12th Street in front of Roy Stewart Stadium
Vice President of Finance and Administrative Services Tom Denton said the cost would be approximately $350,000 and the portion of the state proceeds that could be used toward the $350,000 cost would be approximately $150,000.
“So we would have a net cost of about $150,000,” he said. “The source of funds would be nonrecurring (not from the operational budget) funds from excess interest earned on a previous bond issue.”
The board approved the use of the nonrecurring funds.
Josh Jacobs, chief of staff, presented two policy changes to the Board of Regents Policy Manual and recommended the board accept the amended versions of the Faculty Senate and Staff Congress handbooks.
Both the faculty and staff handbooks have been under revision for months in an effort to sync policies across the University for the 2014 Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaccreditation. The intellectual property policy and Council on Postsecondary Education policy were also amended at the Board of Regents meeting.
The intellectual property policy was updated primarily to reflect new technology. The original policy, accepted in the 1970s did not specifically define procedures for how the policy would be carried out, how income distribution would be separated or the administration of the policy. Jacobs said the revision clearly defines all aspects of the University, faculty, staff and students. He said he anticipates the policy having a comprehensive effect.
The CPE policy redefines the way new academic programs can be accepted at the University. Before, the board would approve a program and then it would be sent to the CPE for dismissal or approval. Now, the program will be sent directly to the CPE for a 45-day preapproval process before making it to the Board of Regents.
Jay Morgan, associate provost, said this amended policy was suggested by the CPE in order to ensure fewer conflicts. If a board approved a program and the CPE denied that approval for any reason, it looks bad on both agencies. With the new policy, the CPE can strike down a program proposal before the board takes too much time contemplating it.
The Regents also approved the NCAA/OVC governing board certification. Phil Schooley, staff regent, said the decision was simple.
“If the board doesn’t approve,” he said. “We don’t play.”
The certification states the president maintains oversight of athletics.
Additional board action included a gun policy the regents passed unanimously.
John Rall, general counsel of Murray State, said the new policy prohibits deadly weapons everywhere on campus except inside vehicles, with the exception of uniformed personnel.
According to the new policy any person (student or employee) in violation is subject to disciplinary action, including expulsion or termination from the University and all other appropriate legal actions.
Dunn presented the salary roster, faculty retirements, professor emeritus designation and staff leaves of absence without pay.
Professor emeritus designation is meant to commend retired faculty that have had an outstanding teaching career and who have taught at the University, even while retired.
Faculty Regent Jack Rose was the only person to comment regarding personnel changes, and he only commented specifically on the salary roster.
He said he was disappointed by some of the increases on the salary roster, but that he would limit his discussion.
In an interview with Rose on Monday, he said when the board developed the budget earlier in the year he believed they had decided there would be no increases for the faculty or staff.
“State statute bars me from voting on salary schedules,” he said. “It doesn’t bar me from comments at the meeting. I believe there were increases that were inappropriate for the time being – some of the raises should have waited. I’m not going to point anyone out to embarrass, and I’m sure most were deserving, but I believed the University salary would stay the same as last year.”
At the Building and Grounds committee, the board discussed the acquisition of a property at 913 Waldrop, which Dunn suggested might be used to move the housing office out of the basement of the Roy Stewart Stadium.
Story by Chris Wilcox, News Editor.