By Phillip Lentsch–
U of L Arts & Sciences Dean Kimberly Kempf-Leonard delivered the state of the college address to a packed faculty assembly meeting Sept. 16, touching on the salary equity catch-up funds for university faculty and staff.
Kempf-Leonard said the $2 million budget increase should mostly go to A&S because they are the most off the median salaries in the study. These raises will come in November paychecks once the equity fund is distributed across the university.
Back in June, one of the last provisions former President James Ramsey left at U of L was the creation of an incentive-based budget plan that would combat the 4.5 percent annual budget cut in state appropriation.
According to the provision, U of L “would be the only university in the state that creatively returns tuition funds to support student success while simultaneously protecting the economics welfare of its faculty and staff.”
“Due to a change in federal law, we have had to reclassify some faculty and staff positions at U of L, but the money will come in by the November deadline,” Kempf-Leonard said.
Despite Governor Matt Bevin’s efforts to deplete the budgets from A&S departments across the state, Kempf-Leonard said that U of L’s financial commitment to A&S remains strong.
“Our state is not unique in having political leaders that suggest a liberal arts education is frivolous, even un-American,” Kempf-Leonard said. “Today, we are seeing a national presidential campaign where one particular candidate is tapping into the uneducated populous to garner support.”
“Governor Matt Bevin – who apparently doesn’t understand accreditation for universities – says there are more incentives for an electrical engineering degree than a French literature major,” Kempf Leonard said. “This view runs contrary to my own. The notion that the only goal of a college education is earning potential is damaging to our country’s educational system.”
Kempf-Leonard was also keen to touch on A&S’s prominence within the U of L community, noting the multiple awards and grants the department has garnered. A&S has raised more than $38 million in research in the past 5 years, has taught nine of the last 11 SGA Presidents (including Aaron Vance) and stands as the largest departmental body at U of L.
“Despite the less-than-desirable press and funding that we have received in the past several months, I am happy to say that A&S continues to welcome the best and the brightest to U of L,” Kempf-Leonard said. “We continue to be the heart of this university.”