Bob Davies: Board of Regents will Discuss Proposed Tobacco Ban and Employee Raises

Nov 24, 2014

Credit murraystate.edu

Update: Audio of the interview broadcast during Sounds Good on November 24 added to post

Originally posted November 18:

Murray State University President Bob Davies says the Board of Regents has some key decisions to make at its next meeting, among them: implementing a campus-wide tobacco products ban and possible employee raises. 

Governor Steve Beshear's statewide ban of tobacco and e-cigarette products on or near government buildings goes into effect Saturday. 

MSU has been studying possible bans in the last few months and Davies says he expects the board to have all the information in front of them and make a decision at their next meeting. But if there is a ban, he's not sure how extensive  it would be.

"With our board, I do not know where they're going to come down on this," said Davies. "I think, like our campus, there's members of the board who very, very much want to go 100% tobacco and tobacco-lite free. But I think there's other individuals who want to only enhance our campus policies and make them a little bit stronger and do something to make it a bit healthier on campus." 

He says those enhancements could include designating smoking areas that are away from the entrances and interior valves of buildings. Regardless of the extent of the ban, the board will have to consider a plethora of different arguments before deciding what to do. 

"The value of being healthy and health conscious for everybody, considering the wants of the majority, paying attention to insurance and cost trends and personal freedoms, you know, "it's my right to smoke," said Davies. "Well, I am not a smoker but when I walk down a certain area, is it my right to have smoke blown into my airspace? So, there's a lot of competing values." 

Student enrollment is also on the increase leading some to wonder whether pay raises for university faculty and staff are on the horizon. Davies says it's a possibility that the board may consider a 1% employee pay raise in the next quarter. 

"We'll see how the board goes on that," said Davies. "With my discussions with the board members, they very much want to reward the faculty and staff for the good work that they've been doing and this is one way, so they're much inclined to do that." 

The maximum raise is capped at $1,200 and the minimum at $250.

“We do need to take a hard look at what is “minimum wage” that we have and make sure that it is reflective of what our values are and in some cases I think we really need to be thinking about altering those out," said Davies. "There's a very severe cascading impact and that is something we're taking to heart." 

The Board of Regents meets December 4th. 

Davies' comments are part of an interview that will air on Morning Edition later this week.