The WKU Board of Regents is delaying a vote to privatize the campus Health Services Center.
At a meeting Thursday morning, board members requested that the university provide them with more information about the proposed agreement with Graves Gilbert Clinic. Regents specifically asked for copies of the “request for proposal” that was submitted to those interested in bidding on the health services contract.
The university announced earlier this year it would seek to privatize its health services operation, in an effort to save nearly $1.1 million in the 2014-15 operating budget.
Regent John Ridley of Bowling Green says today’s move by the board should not be seen as a vote of no confidence in either the proposed contract or the school’s administration. Instead, Ridley says the regents want to make sure they’ve had time to thoroughly review the proposal and have any questions answered before a vote is taken.
“The issue is that we have a board responsibility when we’re about to enter into a contractual arrangement, and if anyone has a question we need to get it answered, and then everybody’s happy,” Ridley said after the meeting.
Faculty Regent Dr. Patti Minter said it’s important that the regents make sure any and all concerns are addressed before conducting a vote on such an important matter.
“This is not something that you take lightly, and I’m absolutely delighted that other members of the board want to do as much due diligence as we can so that we can get the best contract possible, if that is what the board decides to do,” the WKU History Professor said.
Board members decided to create a four-person regents subcommittee that will be in charge of gathering all questions from board members about the contract, and submitting those questions to the university administration.
WKU President Gary Ransdell said Vice President for Finance and Administration Ann Mead would work to gather the answers to any questions submitted by the regents.
The board will meet again Thursday, July 10, at 9 a.m. The regents could decide at that time to vote on the privatization plan.
“We knew there were a number of questions, and I was prepared to have a rather drawn-out conversation answering those questions,” WKU President Gary Ransdell told reporters after Thursday’s meeting. “I think some board members felt more comfortable submitting those questions in writing, so that if any of them needed further research, the staff would have the opportunity to do that.”
On Monday, WKU Health Services sent school faculty and staff an email announcing that the three doctors and one nurse practitioner on staff would not be retained by Graves Gilbert Clinic. Under the proposed contract, Graves Gilbert would begin operating the Health Services facility on Aug. 1.
Also under the proposal, Graves Gilbert would use slightly less than half of the space in the facility, with the university continuing to operate the remaining parts of the building. President Ransdell said Thursday during the Board of Regents meeting that most of the university’s space in the Health Services facility will be used by the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department.