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Employee Education Benefit Pays Off for UK Staff Members

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 09:54

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 1, 2015) — One of the many benefits of full-time employment at the University of Kentucky is the opportunity to take classes with tuition and activity fees waived. 

The Employee Education Program (EEP) began in the fall of 1987 during the administration of then-UK President David Roselle. Initially, employees could only take classes at UK. In 1997, as part of the higher education reform bill (House Bill 1) passed by the General Assembly and signed by Governor Paul Patton, EEP was extended to all Kentucky public institutions. UK employees could attend another state institution and employees of other state institutions could attend UK.

All regular, full-time employees .75 FTE and above are eligible to take up to six credit hours in a given semester, usually the equivalent of two courses. For undergraduate courses, there is no tuition at any Kentucky public institution or activity cost when taking classes at UK. Any other fees (course and/or program fees), books, or expenses related to the class are the employee's responsibility. For graduate courses at either the master's or Ph.D. level, there is no tuition charge, although certain aspects of the benefit are taxable once a pre-determined threshold is reached.

"Employees can utilize the EEP to obtain the necessary education to facilitate the advancement of their career," said UK Chief Benefits Officer Joey Payne. "I encourage my employees to utilize the program. We have had benefits staff obtain master's degrees, and we have had staff with no prior college credits earn bachelor's degrees. This program opens doors for many employees. I earned my MBA utilizing the EEP, so I am certainly a strong advocate."

Two current UK staff members who are utilizing the EEP benefit to pursue a master's degree in public administration (MPA) from the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration are Sheila Brothers and Tricia Coakley.

Brothers, who works in the Office of the University Senate Council, is the elected staff representative to the UK Board of Trustees (BOT) and serves as board secretary. Coakley is a research facility manager in the College of Engineering.

Brothers began working at UK as a part-time switchboard operator more than 20 years ago and eventually gained a full-time position. She first utilized the EEP benefit to complete her undergraduate degree. At a point where she would like to further advance her career at the university, Brothers met with representatives of several graduate studies programs and decided the Martin School was the best fit for her.

"I love UK and wanted to find a way to advance here, not just advance anywhere," Brothers said. "The Martin School intrigued me because I am interested in public service."

Brothers said that what she is learning in the MPA program already is having a positive impact on her current job and how she approaches her daily work.

"Incredibly so," she said. "I now have a much better understanding of statistical information and can see through vapid figures or misleading charts. Most recently, my financial management course has given me a much better understanding of the spreadsheets I see as a trustee and a better grasp of UK's endowments and investment strategies."

Brothers started out in the MPA program by enrolling in just one class her first semester, but took on the challenge of two classes during this past spring semester. She credits her husband and children for being supportive and points to one family member for being especially helpful.

"If I had to pick one person who has made this all possible, it would probably be my mother-in-law,"  Brothers said "She is always there and willing to do little things and big things to help our household run smoothly."

Coakley, who has worked at the university for 13 years, actually transferred to UK from Western Kentucky University (WKU), where she was pursuing a graduate degree in the natural sciences.

"It was very important that the employment opportunity I received from UK would allow for the continuation of my graduate studies," Coakley said. "It was a seamless transition."

Coakley said she finds continuing her education and learning new skills to be among the more rewarding aspects of her life. As her time at UK went along, she began searching for a program that would provide business management education specifically adapted to the public sector, where service outcomes are the measurement of success, rather than profit margins.

"The Martin School faculty have taken what began as my simple quest for greater understanding of current policies and procedures and transformed it into confidence and skill to serve as a leader of beneficial change," said Coakley. "The MPA curriculum has already been of great benefit in both my current job and my volunteer activities. Here at the university, my input has been instrumental in the development of a new program proposal and I was given the opportunity to conduct a policy analysis to help my department achieve its objectives. And I have used the management and fundraising skills learned through my Martin School classes to support a local nonprofit organization, which has resulted in my appointment to its board of directors."

The Martin School's faculty and administration welcome UK employees who enroll in their programs.

Eugenia (Genia) Toma, the Wendell H. Ford Professor of Public Policy and director of graduate studies in the MPA and MPP (Master's of Public Policy) programs in the Martin School, said, "Students in the work force enrich the classroom experience for everyone — other students and faculty. The nontraditional students bring the workplace into the classroom by sharing their examples and applications of the theories presented."

The Martin School master's programs are structured so that they are accessible to people who don't have a 'traditional' student's schedule, with many classes available in the evenings.

On a related note, UK Human Resources policy dictates that with supervisory approval, employees may take time out from their regular work schedule in order to attend one class each semester via EEP, provided they make up the work time missed.

Both Brothers and Coakley are enthusiastic in encouraging their fellow UK employees to take advantage of the opportunity to attend tuition-free classes at the university.

"I'd say 'use it!' The benefit is too valuable to let it lie on the table, unused," said Brothers.

"The EEP program is one of the most valuable benefits offered to UK employees," Coakley said. "With college education becoming mandatory in the job market and tuition rates increasing nationwide, I think that all staff members should take advantage of this opportunity to attain a degree without incurring debt."

Recent figures supplied by the UK Employee Benefits office show that many current employees indeed are heeding the advice of Coakley and Brothers.

In the fall semester of 2014, 1,620 employees took advantage of the EEP benefit and that number grew to 1,629 in spring semester 2015.

The Family Education Program (FEP) is a separate option for family members of full-time UK employees. If an employee is not utilizing the EEP in a given semester, a family member can receive a tuition discount for that semester under the FEP. During the 2014-15 academic year, an average of nearly 600 employees were taking advantage of the FEP benefit.

For more information on the EEP and FEP benefits available to UK employees, visit http://www.uky.edu/hr/benefits/more-great-benefits/employee-family-education-program.

CONTACT: Carl Nathe, 859-257-3200; carl.nathe@uky.edu.

Reminder to Employees-Remember to Switch Permits

Tue, 06/30/2015 - 09:49

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2015)  Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) would like to remind employees that most 2014-15 E parking permits expire on Tuesday, June 30. Be sure to double check the expiration date of your current permit.

Employees who ordered their permit on or after noon Monday, June 22, must pick up their permit at the PTS offices in the Press Avenue Garage (721 Press Avenue) at the window labeled “Express Pick Up.” The Express Pick-up window is designed to expedite the pick-up process for those who prefer to process their order online. Hours for permit pick-up will be 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Please allow three business days for processing.

If you have applied for but not yet received your new permit and do not fall into the timeframe outlined above, please contact PTS at 859-257-5757 or UKParking@lsv.uky.edu. You may stop by the PTS office in the Press Avenue Garage, located at the corner of Press and Virginia Avenues, to pick up a temporary permit.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton and Blair Hoover, (859) 323-2395; rebecca.stratton@uky.edu, blair.hoover@uky.edu

Cofield Named to New Senior Operations Position at UK HealthCare

Mon, 06/29/2015 - 20:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2015)  ΜΆ  Robert “Bo” Cofield has been named vice president/chief clinical operating officer (CCOO) at UK HealthCare effective mid-August. He currently serves as associate vice president for hospital and clinics operations at University of Virginia Medical Center.

In this newly created position at UK HealthCare, Cofield will lead clinical operations for the UK HealthCare enterprise and will be accountable for the operations of UK HealthCare hospitals, managed facilities, ambulatory and provider-based clinics, off-campus and outreach clinics, ancillary services, and the infrastructure to support such operations, including information management and technology.

In addition, he will be a member of an executive leadership team that includes Mark Birdwhistell, vice president for administration and external affairs; Murray Clark, senior vice president for health affairs and chief financial officer; and Dr. Frederick de Beer, vice president for clinical academic affairs and dean of the College of Medicine.

"As we prepare to operationalize our newly developed strategic plan, we will look to Cofield to lead our key strategic activities in quality and safety, operational efficiency and effectiveness, patient centeredness and the creation of a service line structure," said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs. "He will also be responsible for building upon our achievements in ambulatory care by leading the effort around our ambulatory strategy as well as the crucial work that must be done to prepare us for value-based health care delivery. With the assistance of key partners from within the physician, clinical operations, nursing leadership and finance areas, he will serve on an interdisciplinary team to help benchmark our clinical measures and cost structure in order to drive reductions in clinical variation and improve operating efficiency."

In his current role at UVA, which he has held since February 2010, Cofield has been responsible for the effective management of the UVA Medical Center’s clinical services and operations. He also has directed implementation of the strategic direction of the UVA Health System within the hospital and clinics. He arrived at the UVA Medical Center after serving 10 years in a variety of roles within the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Health System, including chief operating officer of UAB Highlands Hospital and associate vice president of the 908-bed University of Alabama Hospital.

“As I’ve followed your growth at UK HealthCare,” Cofield said, “I recognized a similar focus as my own on the delivery of high-quality, cost-efficient patient care within a culture of patient safety and employee engagement. I believe in both the development and recognition of excellent service, and I see in the people of UK HealthCare a similar commitment to exceptional care and service to meet the very real health care needs of the people of Kentucky.”

Cofield completed an administrative fellowship at Tulane University Hospital and Clinics and received the Master of Health Administration and Doctor of Public Health degrees in health systems management from the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He is a graduate of Hampden-Sydney College and a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He has been active in his local community and has served on the boards of several area nonprofits and community organizations.

SCOTUS Opinion Cites Law Professor Robert Schwemm's Testimony

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 17:21

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2015) — Among other landmark rulings, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled last week to uphold the use of “disparate impact” cases, a key tool in fighting housing discrimination. In Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion, he cited the congressional testimony of University of Kentucky College of Law Professor Robert Schwemm.

Schwemm testified in 1987 that there was a strong consensus among the Federal Courts of Appeals that Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act) should be construed to prohibit discriminatory effects.

"I’ve been focused on the Fair Housing Act for most of my 40-year career at UK Law and I’ve focused on the issue decided last week by the Court for many years," said Schwemm, who is the Ashland-Spears Distinguished Research Professor of Law and William L. Matthews, Jr. Professor of Law at UK.

Prior to becoming a law professor, Schwemm practiced with Sidley & Austin in Washington, D.C., and then was chief trial counsel for the Leadership Council for Metropolitan Open Communities in Chicago, Illinois.

Schwemm has studied whether the Fair Housing Act includes a disparate impact standard of liability and wrote the principal treatise in the field, Housing Discrimination: Law and Litigation.

His work prompted the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to adopt new regulations endorsing use of the “discriminatory effect” standard under the Fair Housing Act. The same HUD regulations were also mentioned numerous times in last week's Supreme Court opinion.

"As far as the impact of the case, it’s big," Schwemm said.

The National Fair Housing Alliance, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and others applauded the Supreme Court's decision.

To view the opinion, visit http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/14pdf/13-1371_m64o.pdf

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323-2396, whitney.harder@uky.edu

UK College of Nursing: Preparing Nurses to Impact Lives Through Science, Leadership and Policy

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:44

LEXINGTON, Ky. June 30, 2015 — Since its first class graduated in 1960, the University of Kentucky College of Nursing has modeled innovation and excellence in nursing education. The program has prepared thousands of men and women nurses who have helped lead our county’s health care system as caregivers, executive leaders, impactful teachers, trail-blazing researchers, policy makers and community transformers.

The UK College of Nursing strives to empower students and faculty to reach their full potential in the nursing profession, whether in health care settings, the board room, classrooms settings or the community. Undergraduate bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) students receive a high-quality education with opportunities for both academic learning and clinical experience – predominantly at the UK HealthCare.  Graduates of the BSN program have a first-time pass rate of 97 to 100 percent for the NCLEX (nursing boards), which exceeds national averages.

The program is renowned for offering nurses advanced-level training, including the nation's first-ever Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) for nurses with aspirations to lead as advanced practice nurses or at the executive level. Through its doctorate program, which has been ranked sixth in the country by the National Research Council since 2010, the college mentors the next generation of great nursing scientists, educators and leaders.

In a spirit of collaboration characteristic of the nursing profession, faculty members in the UK College of Nursing partner with departments within the university and health care organizations across the state to work toward solutions to health challenges in Kentucky.

Ranked 21st for NIH funding among all public and private nursing schools, with a $16 million research portfolio, faculty members and graduate students explore the most pressing health care issues affecting Kentuckians, including pre-term births, cancer, tobacco use and cardiovascular disease.

Dean Janie Heath holds firmly to a vision of raising the college's status to one of the top tier nursing programs in the country.

“The college is transforming nursing education by creating innovative learning and practice environments that are collaborative and team-based to meet the demands of new health care delivery models, and is affecting policy at the highest level possible.  This is not only raising the status of the college, but is also improving the health and wellbeing of our patients, our families, our communities, and our country’s health care systems.”

The following timeline chronicles the development of the UK College of Nursing:

1956: Kentucky legislators approve the building of a new medical center on the University of Kentucky Campus.

1957: The creation of a new hospital in a time where physicians were already hard to come by worsened with the realization that nurses, too, were in short hand. In Kentucky, only 13 schools offered hospital diploma programs. Combined, these programs graduated 297 nurses in the 1957 class. Because of this draught, William R. Willard, founding dean of the Albert B. Chandler Medical center and dean of the UK College of Medicine, proposed the idea of a College of Nursing. Willard’s college would offer two programs: one for high school graduates and second for registered nurses. 

1958: With the idea of the College of Nursing coming to fruition, Willard found a dean for the College of Nursing in 35-year-old Marcia Allene Dake, a doctorate of education student at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, would become the nation’s youngest dean of a nursing school.

1959: With the appointment of Dake in 1958 came the need to hire more faculty members. Three more women, all with master's degrees in nursing, were appointed within the next year.

1960: In May of 1960, the College of Nursing enrolled the 35 women that would make up the first class. Of these women, five were registered nurses while the remaining 30 were just beginning their education. These women faced many of the same rules University of Kentucky students in the College of Nursing are subjected to today: white shoes, no nail polish and no flashy jewelry.

1962: During the next two years, enrollment into College of Nursing nearly doubled from 40 in 1960 to 74 in 1962. In order to address the growth of the program, Dake teamed up with Henderson Community College to establish an associate's degree program. Once the program at Henderson was established successfully, programs opened at community colleges in Lexington and spread to Covington and Elizabethtown. In 1967, four years after the first partnership, more than 30 percent of new nurses in Kentucky had graduated from one of the associate degree programs.

1964: The College of Nursing graduated its first class. As an established part of the University of Kentucky Medical Center, the college was now offering not only an undergraduate program, but also a continuing education program and the successful associate degree programs.

1965: The College of Nursing was granted full accreditation from the National League for Nursing (NLN). With the expanding reach of the College of Nursing and the success of additional associates degree programs, Dake began the process of creating a graduate program within the College of Nursing. Her hope was that the graduate program would eventually produce nurses with the qualifications to become professors.

1969: The first class of graduate students begins their coursework in September. There were nine students.

1971: Dake resigns her position of Dean of the College of Nursing. During her tenure as Dean, Dake and her colleagues helped to establish a new curriculum that would spread nationwide during the 1960s and 1970s.By the time Dr. Dake resigned, the enrollment in the College of Nursing had grown nearly 350 percent, from 35 women in 1964 to 512 undergraduate students in 1971.

1972: Marion McKenna is appointed Dean of the College of Nursing. Aware of the exponential growth the College of Nursing was facing, McKenna was hired on the condition that a new facility be created to house her school.

1975: The College of Nursing established nursing programs at Hazard Community College and Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro in hopes to make nursing education accessible to nontraditional and rural students.

1979: McKenna proposes the discontinuation of the baccalaureate program in order to focus solely on trained registered nurses. However, the plan was not successful and the original basic baccalaureate program was reinstated in May 1981.

1980: The Delta Psi chapter of Sigma Theta Tau is established at University of Kentucky. Later in the year, McKenna begins the process of establishing a doctoral program in the College of Nursing. 

1984: The College of Nursing announces Carolyn Williams as the new dean. Williams knew the importance of research and publications and emphasized the idea that it would be required as the college continued to advance.

1985: In June 1985 Williams’ doctorate program was approved and in 1987 the first doctoral student enrolled in the program.

1992: The first class of doctorate students graduate with a Ph.D.

2001: The College of Nursing begins to offer a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program, the first in the nation. The DNP program prepares nurses for advanced practice, clinical leadership and executive positions in health care systems. The first class of DNP students graduated in 2005.

2006: Williams resigns as dean and rejoins the faculty. Jane Kirschling becomes the fourth dean of the College of Nursing.

2007: The first class is inducted into the College of Nursing Hall of Fame. The College of Nursing successfully doubled undergraduate student enrollment in the BSN program – from 80 students to 160 students – in an effort to alleviate nursing shortages in Kentucky and across the nation.

2008: Kirschling and Jay Perman, dean of the College of Medicine, established a work group to evaluate interest in Interprofessional Education (IPE) curriculum for the Medical Center – the IPE curriculum was approved in 2010.

2009: The Masters of Science in Nursing program is ended, and becomes part of the DNP program. Post Baccalaureate students are now able to directly enroll in the DNP program.

2010: College celebrates its 50th anniversary and inducts the second class of the College of Nursing Hall of Fame.

2011: The second class is inducted into the College of Nursing Hall of Fame.

2012: Patricia Howard is appointed interim dean.

2013: College of Nursing partners with Norton HealthCare to offer DNP program to practicing nurses.

2014: Janie Heath is appointed as the fifth dean of the College of Nursing. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabethadams@uky.edu 

Seven Wildcats Named to UK Athletics Hall of Fame

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:13

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2015) — University of Kentucky Athletics will induct seven members into the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in late September. The 2015 class includes Lisa Breiding Duerr (cross country/indoor and outdoor track), Andy Green (baseball), Jared Lorenzen (football), Nate Northington (football), Greg Page (football), Taryn Ignacio Patrick (swimming and diving) and Antoine Walker (men’s basketball). The class will be formally inducted during Hall of Fame Weekend, Sept. 25-26, in conjunction with the football game against Missouri.

Lisa Breiding Duerr, Cross Country/Indoor Track/Outdoor Track, 1986-89

Winner of seven SEC titles and one NCAA championship … Earned six All-America accolades as a Wildcat … Won SEC indoor titles in the mile and 3,000-meter run during her career … Outdoor SEC titles include the 3,000-meter run and 5,000-meter run (twice) … Also part of two league champion relay teams … National champion in the 3,000 meters as a freshman … Key member of UK’s only national champion cross country team (1988).

Andy Green, Baseball, 1997-2000

School-record holder in five career categories: games played (228), games started (225), at-bats (908), runs (199) and hits (277) … Ranks in the top five in four other career categories: fifth in total bases (395), fifth in sacrifices (24) and second in stolen bases (81) … Ranks in the top 10 in several single-season lists: sixth in at-bats (244), sixth in hits (89) and 10th in stolen bases (27) … An Academic All-American and four-year member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll … Drafted in the 24th round by the Arizona Diamondbacks in the 2000 MLB Draft … Completed a decade in the pros in 2010, including three years in the majors with the Diamondbacks and one year with the New York Mets … Currently the third base coach for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Jared Lorenzen, Football, 2000-03

Set six NCAA records, four SEC records and 11 school records for passing and total offense … Four-year starter at quarterback … Career totals feature 862 completions in 1,514 attempts for 10,354 yards and 78 touchdowns … Added 12 rushing touchdowns during his career … Two-year semifinalist for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award … Named second-team All-SEC by both the Associated Press and the Coaches … SEC Co-Freshman of the Year in 2000 … Team captain as a junior and senior … National Player of the Week against Vanderbilt in 2001 … Played three years in the NFL with the New York Giants and was a member of the Giants’ 2008 Super Bowl champion team.

Nate Northington/Greg Page, Football, 1966-67

The pioneers of the integration of SEC football, deciding to play for their home-state team during the height of the Civil Rights Movement … Starred for the UK freshman team in 1966, Northington as a running back and defensive back, Page as a defensive end … Northington averaged 6.0 yards per carry that season as a running back; defensive statistics not available for the frosh … They were expected to make major contributions to the varsity as sophomores; however, Page sustained a neck injury in practice in August, 1967, and died in September … Northington made his debut in an SEC game on Sept. 30, 1967 vs. Ole Miss and played in four games for the varsity, becoming the first African-American football player in SEC history … Northington left the team later that season but encouraged UK’s African-American freshmen, Wilbur Hackett and Houston Hogg, to stay at UK and continue his and Page’s trailblazing legacy.

Taryn Ignacio Patrick, Women’s Swimming/Diving, 2004-2007

Became Kentucky’s first-ever national diving champion, winning the platform event at the 2006 NCAA Championships with an NCAA, SEC and UK record score of 335.20 in the finals … Also owns the school record with a 333.90 on 1-meter … Is a five-time All-American in three seasons at UK … Was named SEC Diver of the Year in all three seasons with the Wildcats … Won a total of five SEC titles, including two each in 2005 and 2007, the most of any male or female in UK history … Became the second diver in SEC history to win three consecutive conference titles on platform … Currently the diving coach at Fresno State.

Antoine Walker, Men’s Basketball, 1995-96

Key member of the 1996 national championship team, regarded by many as one of the greatest college basketball teams of all-time … Averaged 15.2 points and a team-best 8.4 rebounds on the 1996 national title team… First-team All-SEC by both the AP and league’s coaches in 1996 … Named to the 1996 NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team … Two-time All-SEC Tournament Team member … Earned SEC Tournament MVP honors after leading UK to the 1995 league tourney title … Finished career with 806 points and 450 rebounds in just two seasons … Selected by the Boston Celtics sixth overall in the 1996 NBA Draft … Spent 12 years in the NBA …Three-time NBA All-Star … Averaged double-figure scoring in his first 10 seasons in the NBA.

The UK Athletics Hall of Fame was started in 2005 to recognize and honor persons whose participation and contributions enriched and strengthened the university’s athletic program. The charter class included 88 individuals who had previously had their jersey retired by UK.

There is a five-year waiting period – after leaving UK – to be eligible for inclusion into the Hall of Fame.  A committee consisting of Hall of Famers, media members, campus representatives, and current coaches and administrators elects new inductees each year.

# # #

MEDIA CONTACT: DeWayne Peevy, 859-257-3838.

Community Research Partnership Inspires Young Scientists from Rural Kentucky

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 16:12
This story continues our coverage of the Clay County Clock Study. Read the first part of the story here

Lexington, Ky. (June 29, 2015) — Fourth and fifth grade students who partnered with University of Kentucky researchers to study circadian rhythms, or body clocks, were recently rewarded with a trip to campus to get a glimpse of college life and what it's like to work as a scientist.

In Fall 2014, more than 100 students from Manchester and Oneida Elementary Schools in Clay County, Ky. became scientists alongside the research team of Jody Clasey, PhD, professor of kinesiology and health promotion, and Karyn Esser, PhD, professor of physiology.  For one week the students wore Fitbits and temperature monitors and recorded their daily activity, sleep and eating habits in a data notebook.

Clasey and Esser are currently analyzing the extensive amount of data collected by the Clay County students in order to learn more about the relationship between circadian rhythms, activity, eating, and weight in children. The project is funded by a pilot grant from the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science. Additional support is provided by the UK Barnstable Brown Diabetes and Obesity Center, the UK Center for Muscle Biology and the UK Pediatric Exercise Laboratory.

A community partnership from the beginning, the UK research team and Clay County educators worked together to plan the project in a way that would be beneficial to everyone involved. For Clay County educators, the collaboration presented a unique educational opportunity for their students to get hands-on experience with the scientific process.

"With the introduction of the next generation science standards, we're moving away from learning science in a book. But instead, we want kids to learn how to do science, be a part of science, and what better way than to be a researcher in your own science project," said Deann Allen, instructional supervisor, district assessment coordinator, and district health coordinator for Clay County public schools. "We can be developing the next generation of engineers and scientists right here in Appalachia."

Teachers at Manchester and Oneida incorporated the project into science and math lessons to enhance their own curriculum, and the students will write reports when the data is analyzed.

"Each day they would record their sleep time, what they had for breakfast. It was all on a schedule," said Leisa Frazier, a third grade science teacher at Oneida Elementary School. "We used a lot of charts and we graphed results — how many people brought their buttons back, maybe how many people went to bed at so and so time, and we compared those as we went along the cycle."

Incorporating the project across the curriculum allowed students to make connections between subjects like math, science, and English, an integrated approach often missing from traditional classroom instruction segregated by subject area.

"When a child sees it across the curriculum — when you tie it in to your science, and then we had it in our math classes--then they can relate and make connections," said Frazier. "And you know, that's what learning is all about — making that connection."

Frazier and other educators in Clay County also saw that the students were excited and proud to be "doing science" with UK researchers.

"They walked taller. They walked bolder. During the seven day Fitbit wearing, we had a home ball game, a football game. And I looked over and I saw all these kids with their little wristbands, and they were showing them to other kids, like 'Hey I'm doing this research, I'm a researcher,'" said Allen.

The collaboration additionally presented an opportunity to energize students about attending college and expose them to various careers in the sciences. Monetarily compensating research participants is standard practice, but Allen suggested that a better reward would be a field trip to UK's campus so the students could get a glimpse of college life and the many professional opportunities in science.  During their visit, the students visited dorms and the William T. Young Library and ate lunch in Blazer Hall. In their VIP lab tours, the students saw their heartbeats on monitors, examined slides under microscopes, learned how planes are built, and even held a human brain.

"For the students…it opens their eyes," said Allen. "It gives them a reason to continue on in their education. It gives them a purpose to be career ready.  Research shows students start thinking of dropping out in third, fourth, fifth grade. We've stopped that right in the middle… They’re going to understand that the world is open.  All they have to do is get that education, get college and career ready, and there’s a whole world open to them."

While on campus in April, the students also had a private audience with UK President Eli Capilouto. Their questions for him ranged from the cost of tuition and availability of financial aid to the names of his dogs and why squirrels on campus don't seem afraid of humans. Some students announced that they wanted to be UK students in the future.

“Hands on engagement in the learning and discovery process is a powerful motivator for young minds. It encourages students to explore the unknown and connects them in a tangible way to the value of education,” said Capilouto. “When we met, they shared with me their stories as young researchers and enthusiasm for learning. It was a profound reminder of how UK shapes the people and places we touch, and the necessity of encouraging Kentucky’s sons and daughters to aspire to high achievement."

One member of the UK research team has been a particular inspiration for the students. Jill Day, EdD, is a Clay County native turned UK graduate and now UK lecturer. She helped facilitate the research partnership between the university and her hometown, acutely aware that the experience could have a profound and lifelong impact on the students. Many of the students would be the first in their families to attend college, and many hadn't traveled far beyond their home county before the trip to UK.

"To be able to go back there and show these kids, you know what? If I can do this, then you can do this. This is nothing that is limited to me. You can go and get your education and if you want to come back here, you can do that. You can make a difference in your community," Day said. "I told them I was in their position — 20 years ago I was exactly where you were, a student in this school system."

Frazier recalls a comment from one of her female students who looked up to Day.

"Her exact quote was 'I can't believe that someone from our small town has went this big' and that gives me hope that [Day] did make a difference in that child. And who knows what the future holds for her," said Frazier.

"I really believe that this experience could change someone's life," said Day. "When they see that there are things they can do on this campus, to get them excited hopefully about their education, and continuing it for as long as they can, I think it may honestly be something that we will never know —- the impact that it has many year from now. "

For Clasey, learning more about circadian rhythms and weight in children will be beneficial outcome of the project, but she hopes for other repercussions, too.

"My real long term goal is that maybe in a few years I’ll have one or more of the Clay County Clock Study children sitting in my classroom and they’ll say 'I remember when we came to UK to see what you do as scientist,'" she said. "To have that kind of impact and then to actually see that happen--that would be incredible."  

This story continues our coverage of the Clay County Clock Study. See the first segment of the story here.

This story is part of a going series exploring how UK is working with communities in Appalachia. Read more at Rooted in Our Communities: The University of Kentucky

MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell, mallory.powell@uky.edu

Gov. Beshear Makes Appointments to UK Board of Trustees

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 15:51

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 26, 2015) – Governor Steve Beshear made numerous appointments to various boards and commissions in Kentucky today including appointments to the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees.

Beshear has appointed the following UK trustees to serve for terms expiring June 30, 2021.

  • Frank Shoop, of Lexington, is an auto dealer. The appointment replaces James Stuckert, whose term has expired.  Shoop had served on UK's Board of Trustees 1991-2014.
  • Claude A. “Skip” Berry, of Eminence, is chairman of the Wehr Constructors Inc. Kentucky division. The appointment replaces Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton, whose term has expired.

(Note: Gatton was appointed by Gov. Beshear today through executive order to serve as honorary member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees for so long as he shall live and remain a citizen of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.)

Beshear also reappointed Barbara S. Young as a member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees to serve for a term expiring June 30, 2021.

  • Barbara S. Young, of Lexington, previously owned and operated Ashwood Travel Agency. 

Gov. Beshear Appoints Gatton as Lifetime Honorary Trustee on UK Board

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 14:58

FRANKFORT, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — Governor Steve Beshear today appointed Carol Martin “Bill” Gatton as a lifetime honorary member of the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees.

“Bill’s support for excellence in education at all levels is simply unparalleled,” Gov. Beshear said. “A native Kentuckian and a proud UK alum, he has never forgotten that education played a key role in his success, and he’s devoted his life to ensuring others have those same opportunities. By designating him an honorary trustee, his wisdom, counsel and guidance will continue to be an immeasurable benefit to the board as it governs one of our leading educational institutions in the Commonwealth.”

“Bill Gatton’s lifelong commitment to his alma mater as a leader, trustee and philanthropist without peer has transformed the University of Kentucky — for generations of students and their families and for the Commonwealth that we serve as the state’s flagship institution,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “As an honorary trustee, we will continue to benefit from his wisdom and insights as well as his enduring and steadfast commitment to the university and Commonwealth, both of which have been the focus of his passion, energies and efforts for several decades."

Gatton is the single largest donor to UK in the school’s history. His recent $20 million contribution for the construction of a new university student center, in addition to generous support for the renovation and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics, bring his total philanthropy to UK to more than $45 million, with a total gift impact of nearly $57 million.

He also provided the founding donation for the creation of the Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science at Western Kentucky University, which has been named the best high school in America for three years, and he was the lead donor to the Bill Gatton College of Pharmacy at East Tennessee State University.

To view the executive order making Gatton a lifetime honorary member of the UK Board of trustees, click here, or open the attachment below.

Community Partners Receive Funding for Health Outreach Projects in Four Appalachian Counties

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 13:23

Lexington, Ky. (June 29, 2015) — Four community partners recently received funding from the Univeristy of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science to support health outreach projects that address health disparities in Kentucky's Appalachian communities.

The community mini-grant awards of $2,500 each are administered annually by the CCTS Community Engagement and Research program, which builds partnerships between lay, practice, and academic communities in order to identify and address priority health needs of Appalachian populations in Kentucky.

Projects funded in 2015 will address health disparities and promote wellness in four Kentucky counties. The recipients, their community-based organization, and their projects include:

  • Jeremy Hatcher, Manchester Memorial Hospital, implement a summer fitness program in Clay County to promote physical activity and healthy eating for adults and teens over age 16.
  • Kristina Jayne, Gateway Wellness Coalition, implement a five-week, school-based program called "Walking 4 Wellness" aimed at preventing obesity among fourth- and fifth-grade students in Rowan County elementary schools during the 2015-2016 school year.
  • Ancil Lewis, Big Sandy Diabetes Coalition, lead a community-coordinated diabetes and outreach program among individuals in a low-income senior housing facility in Pike County.
  • Sara Poeppelman, Lewis County High School, promote an understanding of the health status of residents in Lewis County by work with high school students to explain cardiovascular health-related concepts.

Media Contact: Mallory Powell, Mallory.powell@uky.edu

How to Spot and Treat Poison Ivy and Poison Oak

Fri, 06/26/2015 - 09:52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2015) — The quickest way to ruin a fun-filled summer day is to come in contact with a nasty patch of poison ivy or poison oak. Touching any parts of these plants can result in a red and itchy skin rash characterized with tense blisters and bright red lesions. Here’s all you need to know about how to spot and treat the pesky weeds.

Q: What do poison ivy and poison oak look like?

A: Each leaf of both poison ivy and poison oak has three small leaflets and both can grow as shrubs or vines. In the spring, poison ivy grows yellow-green flowers and poison oak may have yellow-white berries.

Q: What causes the rash?

A: The rash is caused by contact with urushiol, a sticky oil found in all parts (leaves, roots, stems), of both alive and dead poison ivy and poison oak. Approximately 85 percent of people will break out in an allergic reaction after touching the plant. The allergic reaction is delayed and usually starts 1-3 days after exposure.

Q: Are poison ivy and poison oak rashes contagious?

A: No, the rash is only spread through the oil. You can't catch a rash from someone else by touching their rash; however, you can get the rash by touching anything that has come in contact with the plant's oil, such as clothes, sporting gear, or especially pet fur.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The most common symptoms of the rash are itchiness, red linear streaks or blisters where the plant brushed against the skin, characterized by small to large sized bright red lesions, and blisters that may leak a clear to yellow fluid.

Typically, the rash from poison ivy or poison oak will last about 10 days to three weeks. But in more severe cases, it could take up to six weeks to go away.  It clears much more quickly with medical intervention.

Q: How can the rashes be treated?

A: Immediately after you think you have come in contact with the plant, wash your skin with a mild soap and cool water. It can help reduce the amount of oil that causes the allergic reactions. 

For an effective home treatment, compress the affected areas with a clean cloth soaked in whole milk for 10 to 15 minutes three to four times daily to dry up the blisters, followed by an over-the-counter topical one percent hydrocortisone cream.

Calamine lotion can be an effective astringent. Application of the aloe plant can also help with the itching. Antihistamines like Benadryl are not affective in helping with the rash.

Additionally, make sure you wash your clothes or any other objects that may have come in contact with the plant to prevent the plant’s allergic chemical from spreading even more.  

Medical treatment from a physician would include a prescription topical steroid and systemic steroids to hasten the clearing.

Dr. Stuart Tobin is Division Chief of Dermatology for UK HealthCare.

This column appeared in the June 28, 2015 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader

UK Athletics No. 22 in Directors' Cup Standings

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 17:43

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — The University of Kentucky has placed in the top-25 athletics programs for the third consecutive year with a No. 22 finish in the 2014-15 Directors’ Cup national all-sports standings.

Final rankings were determined following the conclusion of the College World Series baseball championship. UK’s No. 22 slot is the second highest in school history, trailing only the No. 11 finish a year ago. UK began its top-25 streak with a then-school record No. 25 placement in 2012-13.

Fifteen of Kentucky’s 22 varsity teams scored points by advancing to NCAA championship play, led by five teams that finished in the nation’s Top 10 in their sports — women’s outdoor track (second in the nation), men’s basketball (tied for third), women’s indoor track (fifth), rifle (sixth) and softball (tied for ninth).

“I’m thankful for the students, coaches and staff, whose dedication has put Kentucky among the nation’s best athletic programs,” said Mitch Barnhart, UK director of Athletics. “I’m also deeply appreciative of the loyal fan base that helps make our achievements possible.”

Kentucky was sixth among Southeastern Conference schools, marking the fourth straight year that UK placed in the top half of the league standings. Prior to this four-year stretch, UK had finished in the top half of the SEC only once in the 22-year history of the Directors’ Cup.

UK has been trending upward in Directors’ Cup standings throughout Barnhart’s term in Lexington. Prior to his arrival in 2002, UK’s average finish was 40.1 and its best finish of 26th came in 1996-97. After coming in 50th in Barnhart’s first season, UK has gradually risen, culminating with the current streak of top-25 results. Only twice before Barnhart came to Lexington did UK finish in the top 30 of final Directors’ Cup standings. UK has now accomplished the feat five times in the last six seasons.

“We’ve produced some outstanding team and individual performances on the conference and national levels,” Barnhart said. “It is our attention to the little details that will enable us to reach the level we aspire — the elite level of schools in the country.”

The surge in Directors’ Cup standings has coincided with unprecedented achievement in the classroom for UK student-athletes. Scholarship student-athletes have now reached Barnhart’s goal of a 3.0 department-wide grade-point average in six consecutive semesters. UK has broken or tied its school record for the NCAA’s athletics graduation rate in every year the statistic has been kept. In addition, UK has never incurred a penalty in the 11-year history of the NCAA Academic Progress Rate, which measures eligibility and retention of student-athletes.

The Directors’ Cup is sponsored by Learfield Sports and standings are compiled by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tony Neely, 859-257-3838; tony.neely@uky.edu

UK Cervical Cancer Prevention Project Included in National Cancer Institute Database

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 16:27

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — A program developed by researchers in the University of Kentucky College of Public Health and University of Kentucky College of Communication and Information was recently highlighted on the National Cancer Institute’s Research-tested Intervention Programs (RTIP) database. 

The program, “1-2-3 Pap: Easy Steps to Prevent Cervical Cancer,” is the first communication study promoting completion of the Human Papillomavirus vaccine series to receive approval as an RTIP. The program was created and conducted in the UK Prevention Research Center (PRC), also known as the Rural Cancer Prevention Center.

In an effort to increase rates of HPV vaccination among young adult women in rural Appalachian Kentucky, a region with the state’s highest rates for cervical cancer, the UK PRC developed a 13-minute educational video encouraging young women to complete the vaccination series. Eighteen local health departments serving 41 counties in Kentucky have adopted the program. Due to its success, the PRC has worked with other partners to adapt the program for other underserved areas with high rates of cervical cancer, including West Virginia and North Carolina. 

“We are honored to be a part of RTIPS,” Robin Vanderpool, assistant professor of health behavior in the College of Public Health, said. “We hope our intervention will be useful to others addressing HPV vaccination and cancer prevention in their local communities.”

The research team responsible for the project includes Richard Crosby, professor of health behavior in the College of Public Health; Robin Vanderpool, associate professor of health behavior in the College of Public Health; Elisia Cohen, chair and associate professor of communication in the College of Communication and Information; Margaret McGladrey, assistant dean for Research in the College of Public Health; and Maudella Jones, Wallace Bates, Tom Collins and Lindsay Stradtman,  of the RCPC. The RCPC receives its funding from a five-year cooperative agreement through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams, elizabethadams@uky.edu 

Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative 'Goes for the Gold' at Annual Conference

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 16:07

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — The University of Kentucky hosted the seventh annual Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative conference, "Go for the Gold," June 12 at E.S. Good Barn, bringing representatives from across the state together to help advance gender equality in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

"We are pleased to provide a forum for Kentucky residents to join us in this endeavor," said Sue Scheff, co-chair of the collaborative. "Our agenda included a full day of speakers and hands-on activities to excite and entertain girls as well as educate the parents, teachers, and community leaders of the many career opportunities available to young people in Kentucky."

Kentucky continues to rank very low in number of scientists and engineers, high-tech jobs, and industry investment in research and development. The Kentucky Girls STEM Collaborative, based at UK, aims to build a strong, diverse workforce in Kentucky by bringing programs and organizations together that are committed to motivating girls to pursue educational choices in STEM disciplines. 

"The annual conference is an opportunity to share ideas, researched based practices, and to encourage girls to consider the benefits of a career in STEM," said Czarena Crofcheck, co-chair of the collaborative and professor in the UK Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. "As a statewide collaborative, we are committed to making sure that our programs reach across the state, so that our impact can be maximized."

Crofcheck and three other UK faculty members presented at the conference, including keynote speaker Christia Spears Brown, an associate professor of psychology in the UK College of Arts and Sciences. Tanya Franke-Dvorak, a lecturer in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and Christine Trinkle, associate professor in the UK College of Engineering, also presented.

A special session just for middle and high school students was held in the afternoon, coined the "STEM Olympics." Students had the opportunity to break into teams and complete hands-on projects and activities. Quinn Andrews, a sophomore at Henry Clay High School in Lexington, was one of the students who participated. 

"My favorite part (was when) we got to build structures out of gum drops and toothpicks; the structure that didn’t fall apart when dropped received the most points," said Andrews, who is considering a career in medicine or engineering. "It was interesting to meet so many other girls (also) interested in science."

Carol Christian, director of the Craft Academy at Morehead State University, both attended and presented at the conference with her colleagues. Her program, like many of those represented at the conference, came about with the goal of developing the next generation of entrepreneurs and innovators that can impact Kentucky and beyond through STEM careers.

"Anytime we can engage in discussions that target underrepresented populations in education and careers is a wonderful thing," Christian said. "We need more women using their gifts and talents to enter and lead in STEM fields. Social justice should continually be in the forefront of leaders' thinking when recruiting, hiring and training people. Gender is but one of many things that should never be considered in determining whether one can do a job or not or at what level."

MEDIA CONTACT: Jenny Wells, 859-257-5343; jenny.wells@uky.edu

New Initiative Aims To Reduce Clinical Trial Contacting Delays

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 15:48

Lexington, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — The UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) in conjunction with the Office of Sponsored Projects Administration (OSPA) has joined a new initiative designed to reduce clinical trial contracting delays. The Accelerated Clinical Trial Agreement (ACTA) was developed as part of the Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) consortium, the funding mechanism from National Institutes of Health that supports the CCTS.

The ACTA will expedite the clinical trial negotiation process if the sponsoring agency is willing to accept a pre-approved template. Investigators interested in utilizing the ACTA for a clinical trial contract that needs to be negotiated should notify Dave Erem in OSPA at dlerem2@uky.edu or 257-5993. OSPA will then contact the sponsoring agency and ask them to consider using the ACTA.  If the sponsor agrees, this will reduce the amount of time that it takes to finalize the clinical trial agreement. However, each sponsoring agency can decide whether or not they will accept the ACTA for negotiations.

Media Contact: Mallory Powell, Mallory.powell@uky.edu

Alzheimer's Disease Works Differently in Patients With and Without Down Syndrome, Study Shows

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 15:40

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — Researchers at the University of Kentucky's Sanders-Brown Center on Aging have completed a study that revealed differences in the way brain inflammation -- considered a key component of AD — is expressed in different subsets of patients, in particular people with Down syndrome (DS) and AD.

People with Down syndrome have a third copy of Chromosome 21, and that chromosome is the same one responsible for the production of a molecule called amyloid precursor protein. Amyloid overproduction can lead to brain plaques that are a cardinal feature of Alzheimer’s, so it is not surprising that nearly 100 percent of people with Down syndrome develop Alzheimer’s disease pathology in their brain by the time they are 40.

“People develop Alzheimer's disease at different ages, but it's typically in their 60s, 70s, or 80s,” said Donna Wilcock, Ph.D, an assistant professor at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging and principal investigator for the study. “It’s a little easier to study Alzheimer’s disease in Down syndrome because of the predictability of the age when adults with DS develop signs of the disease.”

In Wilcock's study, some interesting data emerged that will shape the way scientists look at AD as manifested in various subsets of the population. Using brain autopsy tissue from a group of people — some with DS/AD, some with AD alone, and some healthy,  Wilcock and her team were able to determine differences in the way neuroinflammation was expressed in people with DS.

In previous studies where Wilcock and her colleagues identified different types of inflammation in AD brains,, two families of inflammatory markers — called M1 and M2a — were each present to varying degrees in the sample population representing early AD cases, indicating a notable level of heterogeneity in the way the AD disease process begins in the brain.  But in the late-stage AD cases, there was a high degree of homogeneity with high levels of the markers M1, M2 and M2c.

"If you think of it in terms of a roadmap, there is almost always more than one way to get from Point A to Point B, and that seems to be the case in disease progression as well," said Wilcock.

In this most recent study, the team found that the inflammatory response in DS/AD brain tissue was significantly greater than that in tissue from AD patients. Further, there was an elevated level of markers for M2b,that was not replicated in tissue from sporadic  (i.e. ideopathic) AD cases. In other words, AD in the DS brain had a very different neuroinflammatory profile than AD in people without DS.

"It has been generally assumed that AD presents the same way in people with Down syndrome as it does in people without DS, but our work demonstrates that this is not the case," said Wilcock.  "This will have important implications for the study of AD treatments, as some treatments might be effective with people without DS but not those with DS, and vice-versa."

Wilcock’s work has been published online in the Neurobiology of Aging. This study was part of a larger DS Aging study at the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging funded by NIH/NICHD (Head and Schmitt), and was also funded by a research grant awarded to Dr. Wilcock through a partnership between the Alzheimer’s Association, the Global Down Syndrome Foundaiton and the Linda CRNIC Institute for Down syndrome.

The Sanders-Brown Center on Aging is one of the world's leading research centers on age-related diseases. SBCoA improves the health of the elderly through research, education and outreach programs related to understanding the brain's aging process and managing age-related cognitive impairment. 

FUSION 2015: Faculty and Staff Site Advisors Needed

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:53

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015)  University of Kentucky For Unity and Service In Our Neighborhoods (FUSION) 2015 is right around the corner!  In just a few short months the state's largest single-day community service project will take place Monday, Aug. 24.  FUSION is looking for UK faculty and staff to volunteer as site advisors for the event.

UK FUSION, is a one-day service event during K Week festivities. Now in its ninth year, FUSION gives all UK students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to start off their school year in a positive way by serving for three hours at a local nonprofit agency or area neighborhood residence.  FUSION is an opportunity for new students to meet returning students as well as UK faculty and staff all while giving back to the Lexington community.

The FUSION team anticipates more than 1,200 UK students serving at nearly 100 community and neighborhood organizations. Each small group is led by one or two student site leaders and a faculty or staff site advisor.

Known as a great opportunity to interact with students in a different and meaningful way, site advisors will help provide risk management, assist with group dynamics and serve as positive role models for participants as the group volunteers.

For FUSION 2015, staff and faculty will need to arrive at 9 a.m., and the event will end around 3:30 p.m.  Times may vary depending on specific sites.

To sign up to volunteer as a site advisor follow these steps:

1.     Visit http://uky.volunteermatch.org/.

2.     In the top right corner select "Register / Sign in."

3.     Select "Create an account now!" in the light blue box in the middle of the page.

4.     Enter and confirm your email.

5.     Complete the personal information form and create an account.

6.     In the "Search For" box, type "Faculty" “Staff” or “FUSION”

7.     In the "Opportunities Near" box, type "Lexington, KY."

8.     Click the "Faculty/Staff Advisor FUSION 2015" event.

9.     Click sign-up.

After completing these steps, a screen saying "you have successfully signed up for the project" will appear.  You should receive a confirmation email. If you do not receive an email or if you have any trouble with a volunteer match, please email Jessica.proskin@uky.edu.

For more information about FUSION or the site advisor opportunity, contact Jessica.proskin@uky.edu. Connect with FUSION on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.   

UK FUSION is part of UK's Center for Community Outreach. The CCO is a student-driven program that is intended to foster the development of leaders who make a difference in their communities. The mission of the CCO is to serve, connect and unite the University of Kentucky with the surrounding community in collaborative efforts to promote life-long community service.

MEDIA CONTACT: Rebecca Stratton and Blair Hoover, 859-323-2395; rebecca.stratton@uky.edu, blair.hoover@uky.edu

UKAg Tractor Team Repeats National Championship

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 14:02

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — Once again, students from the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment put together a successful team that built the national champion quarter-scale tractor for the second year in a row at the recent American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) International Quarter-Scale Tractor Student Design Competition.

Success is nothing new to the team with three first-place finishes in the past four years. In 2013, the team placed second.

“There are a lot of things that drive the Wildcat Pulling team to be so successful,” said Michael Sama, team advisor and assistant professor for the college’s Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering. “Most of all, it takes students who are willing to sacrifice quite a bit of time and effort.”

The average team member spends a few hundred hours during the school year fundraising, designing the tractor and writing the report.

“Most of our students work during the summer, but they come in during evenings and weekends to finish what they've worked toward all year,” Sama said. “I should point out that the students don't get college credit for being involved. It's a completely voluntary commitment which allows a diverse group of students to participate at whatever level they are comfortable."

ASABE states that the International Quarter Scale Tractor Student Design Competition is unique among student engineering design contests in that it provides a realistic 360-degree workplace experience. Student teams are given a 31-horsepower Briggs & Stratton engine and a set of Titan tires. The team then determines the design of their tractor. A panel of industry experts judges each design for innovation, manufacturability, serviceability, maneuverability, safety, sound level and ergonomics. Teams also submit a written design report in advance of the competition, and on-site, they must sell their design in a formal presentation to industry experts playing the role of a corporate management team. Finally, the teams put machines to the test in a performance demonstration comprised of four tractor pulls.

Through involvement in the competition, students gain practical experience in the design of drivetrain systems, tractor performance, manufacturing processes, analysis of tractive forces, weight transfer and strength of materials. In addition, they also develop skills in communication, leadership, teamwork, fundraising, testing and development.

“I've been on the tractor team for three years, and it has been a great experience,” said Brent Howard, a senior studying biosystems and agricultural engineering. “I thoroughly believe it is the best way to get real-world experience while still in school. It's more than just a pulling competition. It is really geared toward showing students what it is like to design a product from the ground up.”

Howard said being part of the team affords members to learn about dealing with money, deadlines and product regulations.

“The people who judge these areas are actual industry engineers who are full of knowledge about industry standards and can pass this knowledge on to us through judging our designs and commenting on what we did well and what could be improved,” he said.

The 2015 team swept the performance pulling events, placing first in the 1,000-pound class with Brad Wilson driving and first in both 1,500-pound classes with Cody Rakes at the wheel.

The durability contest was new to the competition this year. Each team had to make eight timed laps around a course consisting of a bumpy track on one side and an 80-foot track of loose sand on the other. UK team member Jarred Garrett achieved the fastest time to win the inaugural event.

In addition to the performance events, the team placed first in the oral team presentation and the safety category of design judging. Other rankings include:

2nd – Ergonomics

3rd – Serviceability

2nd – Design judging overall

3rd – Written design report

3rd – Maneuverability

Team members attending the competition were:  Brad Wilson (captain), Matt Fogle, Lee Frazier, Jarred Garrett, Brent Howard, Alex Kloentrup, Shawn O’Neal, Cody Pryor, Angela Rakes, Cody Rakes, Surya Dasika, nee Saket and Aaron Shearer.  Advisors and supporters included: John Evans, Carl King, Sue Nokes, Mike Sama, Tim Smith, Aaron Turner and Eric Varner.

The team relies heavily on sponsors to provide supplies and fuel. Altec Industries, Inc. supplied the laser-cut steel, Qualex Manufacturing provided metal forming assistance and the Kentucky Corn Growers Association provided funding and also sponsored all of the fuel at the competition. Funding was also provided by the UK College of Engineering, and the Department of Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering provided shop space and much support to get the tractor built and transported. Team members spent many fall Saturdays parking cars for football games to raise funds for team expenses.

The winning tractor will be on display at the Kentucky State Fair in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s exhibit in the West Wing. 

UK Ag Economics Graduate Student Wins National Teaching Award

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 13:28

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2015) — Jerrod Penn, a University of Kentucky doctoral student in agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, will receive the 2015 Graduate Teaching Award at the annual meeting of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in July. The AAEA is the discipline’s flagship professional association in North America, and Penn faced tough competition.

Penn teaches multiple courses and receives high marks on student evaluations, but other factors were the key to his success. He independently created two new courses that help students synthesize material across the curriculum. He coaches the department’s quiz bowl team and is widely regarded as one of the go-to people for administering regional and national quiz bowl competitions. He recruits new graduate students and mentors undergrads as they learn how to perform research. He also conducts research about teaching and learning with collaborators across the country, and he organizes symposia at conferences to disseminate new knowledge about teaching.

A testament to Penn’s excellent reputation, The Ohio State University sought him out to fill a semester-long teaching role last fall when the departure of a faculty member left them without an instructor for two undergraduate courses. Penn took on the challenge and performed well, creating a useful linkage between UK and Ohio State in the process.

As the Graduate Teaching Award winner, Penn will present in the Teaching Tips from Top Teachers session at this summer’s AAEA annual meeting in San Francisco. Earlier this year, UK awarded Penn a Provost Outstanding Teaching Award in the graduate student category.

UK Alumni Association Announces 2015 Distinguished Service Award Winners

Thu, 06/25/2015 - 12:38

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 29, 2015) – The University of Kentucky Alumni Association Distinguished Service Awards are presented annually to honor and recognize those who have provided extraordinary service to the university and the association. The 2015 recipients were honored on June 19 during the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors Summer Workshop in Lexington.

The 2015 recipients are:

Jeff Ashley of Louisville, Kentucky, graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1989, earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and in 1997 from Webster University earning a master’s degree in marketing. He is president and senior consultant of Ashley|Rountree & Associates, a consulting firm he founded that focuses on philanthropy and is a nonprofit leadership business located in Louisville. Ashley is past president of the Greater Louisville UK Alumni Club and a member of the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. He has been the chairman and vice chairman of the Membership Committee and was on the Club Development Committee. He donated the use of a condominium to the Alumni Association Summer Workshop Silent Auction to benefit scholarships. He has also been a member of the UK Advocacy Network, working with legislators regarding issues of importance to the university and higher education. As a student, he was a member of Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity and Omicron Delta Kappa honor society. Ashley is a member of the Trinity High School Foundation Board, is softball commissioner for East Louisville Sports and a member of the Rotary Club of Louisville. With more than 20 years of fundraising experience, he has assisted in raising more than $500 million throughout his career.

Lu Ann Holmes of Park Hills, Kentucky, received a bachelor’s degree in interior design in 1979 from the University of Kentucky and her master’s degree in 1986 from the University of Pittsburgh. She retired as a senior business development manager at Haworth Incorporated. She serves on the UK College of Design Interior Design Alumni Advisory Board, was named a 2010 Friend of the College of Design and actively supports student interior design scholarships and curricular activities. She is vice-chairwoman of the Club Development Committee, a UK Fellow and past president of the Northern Kentucky/ Greater Cincinnati UK Alumni Club. She has assisted in hosting an alumni reception at the NeoCon Convention, which is the largest event in the nation for interior designers. Holmes is a School of Interiors volunteer in the College of Design, meets with students at UK Alumni Association events and is a Women and Philanthropy Network member. She has served on the national board of directors for the American Society of Interior Designers and served as the chairwoman of the Industry Advisory Board. As a student at UK, she was a member of Gamma Phi Beta sorority, was on the Kentuckian yearbook staff and a member of Phi Upsilon Omicron and Mortar Board honor societies.

Taunya Phillips of Lexington, Kentucky, is the assistant vice president for commercialization and economic development at the University of Kentucky, focusing on the commercialization of intellectual property from the UK College of Engineering. She holds a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering and an MBA, and has held previous positions at UK, including chief financial officer for Kentucky Technology Incorporated, was a College of Engineering lecturer and Minority Engineering Program director. Phillips has also worked at Milliken & Company, a chemical and textile manufacturer. She is on the board of directors for Opportunity for Work and Learning Incorporated, and is the past president and current member of the UK College of Engineering Alumni Association Board. She is a UK Fellow, a member of the Lyman T. Johnson African-American Alumni Constituent Group and has advised the National Society of Black Engineers to help assist with professional leadership and development of UK students. Phillips is a current member of the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors, where she has served on the Club Development Committee and the Budget, Finance and Investment Committee, and has been a member and chairwoman of the Diversity and Group Development Committee. She is also a member of the College of Engineering Friends of Dean Walz Development Association.

Jim Vogt of Naples, Florida, graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1958, earning a bachelor’s degree in commerce. He is president of VOCO Enterprises, a real estate holding company. He is past president of the Naples-Ft. Myers UK Alumni Club and has been a member of the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors serving on the Club Development Committee and the Nominating Committee. He is a member of the Wildcat Society and is also a UK Fellow. In helping with recruitment to the University of Kentucky, he planned and held a luncheon with the Collier County, Florida, high school guidance counselors. Vogt also served more than 10 years in the Kentucky National Guard. At UK, he was vice president of Sigma Nu fraternity, a member of the Delta Sigma Pi business fraternity, president of the YMCA men’s campus group and was a distinguished military graduate of UK ROTC. In other community service, he has served as local president, state vice president and national director of the U.S. Jaycees and is a member of the Buechel Kentucky Masonic Lodge and the Scottish Rite of Kentucky.

About The Award

The UK Alumni Association's Distinguished Service Awards are presented annually to honor and recognize up to four recipients, of which one can be a non-alum friend of the University of Kentucky, who have provided extraordinary service to the university and the association. Nominees for this prestigious award should have:

  • Demonstrated a history of diligent work for the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Contributed to the accomplishments of the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Provided leadership and dedication to University and Association programs.
  • Provided meaningful service to alumni and friends of the University, community and profession.
  • Alumni shall have at least 12 credit hours.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association, and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit www.ukalumni.net or call 1-800-269-2586. 

MEDIA CONTACT: Kelli Elam, 859-257-7164, Klelam2@email.uky.edu

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