Ramsey publicly addresses photo controversy

By on November 4, 2015

“First, I would like to apologize for my mistake at the staff luncheon.”

Those were President James Ramsey’s first public words as he addressed members of the faculty senate today. The senate meets monthly as part of the university’s shared governance structure.

Ramsey told the senators that he and his staff have accepted cultural sensitivity training and are making strides to fix his blunder.

When asked about his plan of remediation, Ramsey said he will approach it according to recommendations passed by the Commission for Diversity and Racial Equality.

“I’m asking (Neville) Pinto to take those recommendations, bring other groups on campus together to look at them and go beyond that with what other things we as a campus should do,” Ramsey said. “It’s an opportunity to take some of the things we’ve done and move forward as a campus community.”

While these groups plan to address the issue, the permanence of the group will be subject to results, Interim Provost Neville Pinto said.

“Actions will determine the response,” Pinto said.

Ramsey also addressed the lawsuit filed against the Board of Trustees by the Kentucky Justice Resource Center.

The KJRC filed suit against the governor, education nominating committee and 17 governor-appointed members of the Board of Trustees regarding the board’s racial composition. They requested a clear definition of the phrase “minority racial composition.”

KJRC questions whether that phrase includes Hispanics or Latinos as minorities, and  if the number of minorities currently meets the required minority racial composition called for in state law. The statute references the required amount of ethnicities on a board in relation to the metro Louisville population. This would increase the number from two to three members.

Plans to increase student retention were addressed as well. The representative of the Student Government Association revealed two new apps were in development to assist in retention. The apps, he said, will assist advisors and students with identifying who is in danger of failing and address them.

Attendees expressed concern regarding sabbatical leave. “We’re already having trouble recruiting,” one attendee said, as they discussed difficulty in faculty recruitment without the lure of sabbatical leave available within some departments. The implementation was formerly suspended for the year, but is scheduled for revisal in January.

U of L graduation rates compared to the university’s new Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) standing also came under deliberation. One senator noted the University of Louisville has one of the lower graduation rates among ACC universities, but that it is, “The only school in the ACC were graduation rates of athletes are higher than regular students.”

Pinto concluded the meeting, discussing searches for departmental deans and the new student center specifics. A new instructional building will be built on the Crawford Gym location, with the theme of student success at it’s helm.

The building is projected to have 40 to 48 classrooms, 10 to 12 laboratories and average around 155,000 square feet. There will also be two spaces in the building.

The student success area for learning support will cover about 23,000 square feet, and there will be 10,000 square feet of common space. He said the building will open in the fall of 2018. Pinto said the space will be opportune for classes of low division with high demand, where space is limited for such large class sizes.

Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard sent all Arts and Sciences faculty an email on Nov. 4 pointing to the learning opportunity the ongoing Halloween costume controversy provides.

“As you are also likely aware, the University is in the process of crafting a plan that will enable us to move forward,” Kempf-Leonard wrote, “That plan will, among other things, include opportunities for honest, open dialogue and diversity training. Thanks to well-established programs and resources in the Office of International, Diversity & Engagement Programs (IDEP) and a number of faculty and staff who have expertise in the areas of diversity, inclusivity and social justice, we in the College of Arts & Sciences are positioned well to help facilitate the discussion and provide training.

“I want to assure the A&S community that the College of Arts and Sciences is firmly committed to the University’s Diversity Vision statement.”

The dean continued, I also want to assure you that the Dean’s Office is fully committed to responding proactively and offering strategies for moving forward. As your Dean, I will do my best to make sure that there is a solid plan in place for adherence to and accountability for the principles of diversity that we as a University espouse.

“In the meantime, and is true of most mistakes, this is an opportunity to listen to and teach one another. As teachers, we know that it is never too late to learn.”

Early on the morning of Nov.4, the university announced the Board of Trustees will meet in executive session, closed to the media, tomorrow. The agenda calls for them to discuss ongoing litigation. The Cardinal will have details of that meeting when they are announced afterward.

About Kyeland Jackson

Editor-in-Chief at The Louisville Cardinal.

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