Board of Trustees: Committees review business and budgets for the upcoming fiscal year

Sam Chaney and Alan Vargas

The UNF Board of Trustees met on Thursday, June 14 in order to discuss and review regular business as conducted by the various Board Committees. President David Szymanski was also in attendance for his first Board of Trustees meeting since taking office.

First, the Finance and Facilities Committee met to review a total of ten agenda items for approval. Committee Vice President Shari Shuman first initiated a discussion regarding the structure of the student tuition and fees bill, to which the Board approved an amendment that effectively removes and changes certain language within the Schedule of Tuition and Fees regulation. This change was made for the sake of clarity, so that students may better understand their bills. A similar amendment was then approved regarding the language in the Special Fees, Fines and Penalties regulation, thus clarifying student fines and fees for the library.

The Three-Year and Five-year Capital Improvement Plan and Legislative Budget Request for the fiscal years of 2018-2019 through 2023-2024 were then reviewed. According to the Board agenda, “each of the items included in this proposed request is consistent with the university’s goals and master plan.” Overall, the items on the request sheet are all the same as last year’s list, with the exception of funding requests in order to further renovate the John E. Mathews Computer Science Building (Bldg. 15) and add a 500-bed housing project to the Hicks Honors College. The Committee approved the plan, which will be forwarded to the Florida Board of Governors for further review and approval.

The Finance and Facilities Committee was the first to meet during a day of Board of Trustees Committee meetings. Photo by Sam Chaney.

The Committee then approved the Capital Outlay Budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which featured a total of $109,276,171 for upcoming campus projects, such as the Student Assembly Center and Panda Express. Finally, the Board approved easements for access, surface drainage and construction in connection with the sale/development of the Skinner Parcel intersection of Holzendorf Drive and Kernan Boulevard South, and also accepted the title to Tract D: a 3.5-acre plot of land where the Student Assembly Center is to be located in the future.

Next, the Academic and Student Affairs Committee met in order to review the 2018 Florida Equity Report, presented by Director Cheryl Gonzalez of the UNF Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. The Committee approved of the report, which consisted of academic program reviews, gender equity in athletics reports and employment representation summaries. As a result, the 2018 Equity Report will be sent to the Florida Board of Governors for further review and approval.

The Committee proceeded to review a list of UNF faculty members who were candidates for tenure and promotion, as presented by Interim Provost Pamela Chally. A total of 15 faculty candidates were considered for potential tenure and were unanimously approved by the Committee.

Finally, the Committee reviewed the Legislative Budget Request for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which came to a total of $12,710,181. This review included specific consideration regarding three main areas: focus on student success, strengthening areas of strategic emphasis, and improving the educational experience. In particular, Committee members cited the opportunity to bolster University metrics and improve the overall institution. The Committee meeting concluded with the approval of this request, which will also be forwarded to the Florida Board of Governors.

Vice President of Public Relations Sharon Ashton offered Spinnaker a more detailed explanation regarding some of the intentions behind the Legislative Budget Request.

“We are requesting more money for mental health counselors,” she said. “Very few LBRs are approved. It’s like your wish list, your shot in the dark. If you don’t ask, you’re not going to get. We put together a comprehensive plan that includes a student counselor.”

These counselors would reportedly complement academic advisors and work with students from a more holistic perspective, ultimately offering students whatever help they need in order to be successful at UNF. The initiative was spearheaded by the Interim Provost Pamela Chally.

“We hope we can get it because we can do great things if we get it. The legislative session doesn’t start until January but we’re hopeful,” Ashton explained.

The Governance Committee then met, led by Chair Sharon Wamble-King. The Committee met solely to consider the approval of new and reappointed Board members for all of the University’s Direct Support Organizations, as presented by Committee Vice President Karen Stone. 15 total members were considered for the UNF Foundation, three members for UNF Training and Services Institute, three members for the UNF Financing Corporation, and eight members for MOCA Jacksonville. Ultimately, all 29 considered members were unanimously approved by the Committee.

At the plenary Board of Trustees meeting where representatives of all committees reconvened, President  Szymanski addressed the Board and gave his first President’s report.

“It’s a great opportunity to be here and I’m looking forward to developing an understanding of the University and its people,” he told the Board. “I think the University is in a good place but I’m excited about the future and moving this institution forward.”

The meeting concluded with a discussion on how the Board would evaluate Board members in the future. An agreement was reached wherein they plan to submit a roadmap to the Florida Board of Governors and develop their evaluation process during the Board’s annual retreat. They will then submit their final evaluation after the retreat.

The next Board of Trustees meeting will take place on Sept. 20, 2018.

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