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Strategic Plan Outlines UK's Aspiration to be Among Best Public Research Universities in the Country

Sat, 10/24/2015 - 11:05

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 24, 2015) — The University of Kentucky plans to significantly increase graduation rates, expand its research into the state's biggest challenges and join the ranks of the country's best public research institutions.

Those are the cornerstones of a five-year strategic plan strongly endorsed Saturday by the UK Board of Trustees at the conclusion of a nearly three-day annual retreat.

"We are the university for Kentucky," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "That means creating an environment where students can reach their potential, while discovering answers to the issues of our day in partnership with the communities we serve. This strategic plan outlines an ambitious path forward as we take our place among the best public, residential research campuses in America."

Some key goals and initiatives in the strategic plan include:

  • Increasing UK's six-year graduation rate to 70 percent — an increase of nearly 10 percent over recent figures and similar increases institutional retention rates
  • Closing the achievement gap — retention and graduation rates — that exists between the general student population and students of color, first-generation students and students eligible for Pell grants
  • Plan to aggressively grow research expenditures between now and 2020
  • Growing federal research expenditures, such as the National Institutes for Health. The plan proposes a goal of increasing federal research funding from $150 million to $175 million in 2020
  • Increasing the number of academic programs ranked in the top quartile by discipline by 2020 
  • Expanding training in the area of unconscious bias — the idea of acting and making decisions that may be perceived as prejudicial based on unconscious thoughts
  • Increasing the selectivity of the university's graduate programs and providing incentives for top graduate programs through the awarding of block grants
  • Increasing the number of graduate degrees awarded at the master's and doctoral levels as well as education specialist
  • Creating a unified reporting system through a database to track engagement efforts

The proposed plan — which can be read here — articulates key initiatives and goals for progress in five core areas:

--Undergraduate student success

--Graduate education


--Diversity and Inclusivity

--Community engagement

"Kentucky needs its flagship institution to be among the best in the country, not because of rankings or prestige," said Britt Brockman, chair of UK's Board of Trustees, "but because of what it will mean for the state we serve. That's what this strategic plan is about — fulfilling our potential on behalf of the students we educate and the people of this state we are committed to serving."

In other business Saturday, the board:

--Approved moving forward with design of a renovated College of Law. The project was approved during the 2014 legislative session.

--Approved the awarding of an honorary degree to Matt Cutts. Cutts, a 1995 graduate of UK, was one of Google's first 100 employees, joining the iconic company in 1999.

Innovative Funding Plan Would Begin Process of Revitalizing Campus Core

Sat, 10/24/2015 - 10:52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 24, 2015) The University of Kentucky is seeking support during the 2016 session of the General Assembly for an innovative proposal to help fund renovation and revitalization efforts in its campus core.

The proposal — which would combine $125 million state funds for bonding with $125 million in funding from the university and other sources — focuses on "rehabilitating, renovating and modernizing buildings in the core of the campus," said UK President Eli Capilouto.

"Over the last four years, with the leadership of our board, faculty, students and staff and in partnership with generous donors, our health care enterprise and UK athletics, we have undertaken a remarkable transformation of our campus, with new infrastructure that is expanding our capacity to teach more students, conduct more research and provide even greater service to the Commonwealth," Capilouto said. "Now, we have an opportunity through thoughtful planning, and an innovative approach, to revitalize our campus core, where much of our teaching and creative work takes place."

There are more than 30 structures in the campus core that will be evaluated for inclusion in the proposal; ultimately the final proposal to the governor and General Assembly will be based on an analysis of needs and priorities.

Specifically, the funding proposal, which is still being developed, would:

-- Identify facilities in the core of the campus — generally the areas bounded by Avenue of Champions, Rose Street, Washington Avenue, and South Limestone — eligible for revitalization and rehabilitation efforts

-- Use a set of criteria — including historic nature, usage for teaching and instruction and deferred maintenance — to prioritize facilities that will be included on the final list proposed for funding.

UK is the largest campus among the public institutions in the state and, according to a 2006 study, has the most deferred maintenance, at more than $1 billion.

"This proposal represents the next step in our transformation," Capilouto said. "Once again, we are asking for help in forging our own path. With investment from the state — in partnership with investment from the university — we can continue to improve the teaching, research and working environment of our university.

"We aren't asking for a blank check, but an investment and partnership with the state that we serve so that we can do even more in education, research, service, care and creative scholarship."


UK Strategic Plan Aims for Growth in Research Dollars, Rankings

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 17:30

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Shortly after breaking ground Friday morning for a new cutting-edge facility in partnership with the Governor and General Assembly, the University of Kentucky Board of Trustees discussed a proposed plan to significantly increase UK's research expenditures and rankings.

"We will focus on research that addresses the challenges of the Commonwealth," said Lisa Cassis, UK's vice president for research. "The overall objective is to use the full capacity of researchers across the disciplines to improve the condition of the Commonwealth."

Specifically, the university's proposed strategic plan in research:

-       Projects growth in research expenditures from $340 million in 2013 to $364 million in 2020.

-       Significant increases in federal research expenditures, such as the National Institutes for Health. The plan proposes a goal of increasing federal research funding from $150 million to $175 million in 2020.

-       Increasing the number of programs ranked in the top quartile by discipline by 2020.

-       Accelerating growth in licensing and intellectual property

The discussion regarding research was part of the proposed university strategic plan being considered this week by the UK Board of Trustees.  Earlier Friday, the board participated in the ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $265 million research facility, whose focus will be health disparities in Kentucky.

The trustees are expected to vote Saturday on the proposed strategic plan, which lays out ambitious goals for the university between now and 2020. The plan covers five core objectives — undergraduate education, graduate education, research, diversity and inclusivity and community engagement.

The financial numbers and rankings are important because they reflect a university's research strength and its capacity. Moreover, Cassis said, the research dollars speak to the impact an institution can and should have in addressing the challenges of the day.

"We believe that what's applicable to Kentucky's well-being will benefit the world at large," Cassis told trustees.

Board members also discussed the strategic plan's goals with respect to graduate education and community engagement — a core focus of the university as a land-grant institution.

Susan Carvalho, interim dean and associate provost of the Graduate School, said it was important to link the goals for the university's research enterprise with the health of its graduate programs.  Under graduate education, the plan proposes to:

·         Increase the selectivity of the university's graduate programs

·         Provide incentives for top graduate programs through the awarding of block grants

·         Increase the number of graduate degrees awarded at the master's and doctoral levels as well as education specialist

·         Increase the diversity of graduate students

Finally, in the area of community engagement, Lisa Higgins-Hord, UK's assistant vice president for Community Engagement, cited the proposed plan's focus on leveraging greater use of technology, scholarship and research to "advance the public good."

Specific goals include:

·         Creating a unified reporting system through a database to track engagement efforts

·         Creating opportunities for students to participate in a community engagement experience

·         Creating partnerships between university and community stakeholders

"The proposed strategic plan underscores the depth, breadth and mission of our institution," said Britt Brockman, chair of the UK Board of Trustees. "We seek to be a place where a distinctive undergraduate education is afforded to all our students, but also a place where the most profound of scholarship and research occurs in ways that address Kentucky's most significant challenges."

Patient-Centered Care Helps Overcome Mental Illness and Tobacco Use

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 16:48
This column originally appeared in the Oct. 25 edition of the Lexington Herald-Leader. 

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015) — People diagnosed with a chronic mental illness will die an average of 10 years earlier than those without a mental illness. While a number of social and biological factors contribute to early mortality, 40 of people with a mental health condition also practice one of the most preventable health risk behaviors — smoking.

A study from the National Institutes of Mental Health found people with a mental illness smoke nearly half of all cigarettes in America. The Journal of the American Medical Association provided evidence that people with severe mental illness are at a higher risk of cardiovascular death. Depression is three times higher in smokers than in non-smokers and an estimated 70 to 85 percent of people with schizophrenia are tobacco users.

Evidence supports a bi-directional relationship between tobacco use and depression. For some patients, smoking can alleviate pre-existing symptoms of depression and anxiety by releasing dopamine, a source of pleasure, in the brain. Evidence also suggests that smoking causes depression and other forms of psychosis, and some individuals with decreased dopamine levels are genetically predisposed to tobacco use and dependence.

Health care providers must address the patient’s tobacco use, a chronic addictive condition, in conjunction with the mental illness to preserve health. To accomplish this, we must:

Treat both conditions at once

Some evidence-based pharmacological methods are dually effective in treating tobacco use and mental illness. For one, bupropion hydrochloride has proven successful in reducing depression and serving as a smoking cessation aid.

Acknowledge the mental health effects of quitting

While the decision to quit smoking benefits the patient in the long-term, nicotine withdrawal might exacerbate or lead to depressive symptoms. Patients must communicate with a health care provider about any side effects associated with quitting, such as depression. Patients can also participate in group therapies or meet with a counselor to mitigate the negative effects of quitting smoking.  

Ensure the intervention is patient-centered

When a patient gives up smoking, they’re letting go of a coping mechanism or a companion. The patient should remain the central focus in any intervention, and providers should act with empathy and understanding, as quitting is a process requiring perseverance. A patient-centered plan should incorporate aids to quit smoking as well as mental health support and accessible resources.

Dr. Chizimuzo Okoli is an assistant professor in the UK College of Nursing.

Danny Glover to Speak at City's King Celebration

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 16:33

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 27, 2015) — Actor, director, humanitarian and political activist Danny Glover will speak at Lexington's 2016 Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, Jan. 18.

The day begins at 10 a.m. with the traditional Freedom March in downtown Lexington, followed by the commemorative program featuring Glover as the keynote speaker at 11 a.m. in Heritage Hall. Presented by the University of Kentucky and the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government, the events are free and open to the public.

“Dr. King’s legacy is one of progress … progress made habitual, carried as a value … as a covenant that we will not rest until every man, woman and child is afforded a better opportunity than that which was afforded to us,” said UK President Eli Capilouto.

With a career spanning more than 30 years, Glover is one of the most respected actors working today. He is arguably best known for his roles as Detective Sergeant Roger Murtaugh in the "Lethal Weapon" series, as Albert Johnson in "The Color Purple," as cowboy Mal Johnson in "Silverado," and Michael Herrigan in "Predator 2." He also had roles in "Witness," "Shooter," "Saw," "Places in the Heart" and "Angels in the Outfield" as well as dozens of other movies, television shows and theatrical productions.

Born to San Francisco postal workers active in the NAACP, Glover's activism became apparent at San Francisco State University, where he joined the Black Students Union and led the longest student walkout in U.S. history, a five-month strike to establish a Department of Black Studies. The department and a School of Ethnic Studies were created, the first of their kind at an American university.

Glover's long history of union activism includes support of the United Farm Workers, UNITE HERE and the American Postal Workers Union. He has regularly supported a series of political candidates and humanitarian causes around the world. Internationally, Glover has served as a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations Development Program, focusing on issues of poverty, disease and economic development in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. He currently serves as UNICEF Ambassador.

Drawing from expertise and experience, Glover is able to contextualize contemporary issues and offer practical wisdom to new generations on building peace, unity and democracy across racial, ethnic and gender lines.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302,

Kentucky’s Brightest 'see blue.' at Annual GSP/GSA Day

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 16:26

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015)  The University of Kentucky’s wide range of academic and extracurricular opportunities allows for its students to create a college experience that caters to their wants, needs and passions, both inside and outside of the classroom. Today, UK celebrates the high school students who have attended either the Kentucky Governor’s Scholars Program (GSP) or Governor’s School for the Arts (GSA) for the annual UK GSP/GSA Day.

This event brings together some of the state’s top students, giving them a unique opportunity to “see blue.” while reuniting with the friends they’ve made during the prestigious summer programs.

"We are excited to showcase a campus in transformation — new residence halls, academic science building, student center, and the list goes on — ultimately, this also provides the context for our UK students to also transform," said Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Don Witt.

To prepare for the more than 350 prospective students  who will be in attendance, UK will be hosting a college fair, special presentation and campus tours.

Attendees will be able to hear from and talk to current students, faculty and staff as they get a taste of what it’s like to be a Wildcat.

Students and their families will also enjoy a lunch on the lawn in front of the Main Building, as well as other college tours and information sessions in the afternoon.

Today’s excitement stems from more than just the warm reunions and educational presentations, though. Students who have successfully completed either GSP or GSA and are admitted to UK by Jan. 15 and are also eligible for the GSP/GSA Presidential or Provost Scholarships.  

Incoming GSP or GSA students who have achieved a minimum test score of 31 ACT or 1360 SAT (M+CR) with a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.50 will automatically receive the Presidential Scholarship. This scholarship provides in-state tuition for up to four years of undergraduate study.

All other eligible GSP or GSA students will receive the Provost Scholarship. This scholarship provides $1,500 per year for up to four years of undergraduate study.

For more information about UK scholarships for GSP or GSA students, click here. Additionally, the deadline to apply for competitive scholarships is Jan. 15.

Hosting this annual event in October will allow for students and their families to enjoy a beautifully dressed campus, showing off some of Lexington’s extraordinary scenery and giving attendees a unique feel for campus life at the University of Kentucky.

MEDIA CONTACT: Katy Bennett or Rebecca Stratton, or, (859) 257-1909/(859) 323-2395 

College's New Director of Diversity and Inclusivity is Building a Nursing Profession Reflective of Patient Population

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 15:58

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015) — UK College of Nursing associate professor Jenna Hatcher explains the distinction between diversity and inclusivity using a party metaphor.

Diversity is getting an invitation to the party, but inclusivity is being asked to dance. At the UK College of Nursing, Hatcher wants to see people of all genders, races, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations on the dance floor.

Dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment in the college and the broader health care workforce, Hatcher took on a new role as director of diversity and inclusivity for the UK College of Nursing this summer. In this position, she hopes to recruit a more diverse body of undergraduate and graduate nursing students and instill of culture of inclusivity in all facets of the college. She hopes her efforts to promote a diverse and inclusive environment within the college translate in the larger nursing workforce.

As a researcher, Hatcher has investigated health disparities affecting ethnic groups and marginalized populations. Her studies have included an examination of  challenges to equality and comfort during the breast cancer screening process for African American women and the prevalence of colorectal cancer in residents of rural Appalachia. Hatcher believes health care workers should resemble the demographic they serve, and nurses comprise the largest workforce in the world. A more diverse nursing workforce will be better equipped to empathize with and understand the distinctive needs and experiences of patients, which will improve the overall quality of health care and encourage more people to seek out health services.

“As the director, I hope to work from top to bottom to create a diverse and inclusive environment in the health care system,” Hatcher said. “To create an environment that produces health care workers who look like the population they serve.”

Hatcher said valuing diversity at UK means actively instilling a culture of diversification across campus. As a first priority, Hatcher plans to review admission policies, recruitment tactics and retention rates of undergraduate students to identify opportunities to bring more underrepresented minority students into the nursing profession. She will engage in career education efforts in the community, starting with high school students to encourage young minorities to pursue careers in health care.

She will also develop strategies for the College of Nursing faculty to ensure a comfortable and diverse workplace. In the past, she has utilized the Implicit bias test, which measures cultural and ethnic biases previously unknown to an individual through an online questionnaire, to help people understand their innate biases and the effect on others. Hatcher said being aware of unconscious biases is a first step in recognizing areas of improvement for a department committed to diverse and inclusive environment.

"Jenna's passion, energy and expertise is key for equalizing access to health care, education and opportunities for vulnerable populations,” said Janie Heath, dean of the UK College of Nursing. “As director of diversity and inclusivity she will help us acknowledge and celebrate the differences in our community, which will allow us to be challenged, understood and transformed."

Hatcher also serves as the director of the Disparities Researchers Equalizing Access for Minorities (DREAM) Center. The DREAM Center is dedicated to generating and disseminating knowledge that helps to equalize access and eliminate disparities in health status and health care for minorities through research, education, and community outreach.   

For more information about diversity and inclusivity at the UK College of Nursing, contact Hatcher at

MEDIA CONTACT: Elizabeth Adams,

UK Unveils Color My Plate Plan for Healthy Eating on Campus

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 14:38

LEXINGTON Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015) — The new dining facilities at the University of Kentucky are changing the way students eat by encouraging healthy eating.

The UKColorMyPlate campaign encourages individuals to consume a variety of multicolored vegetables. UK Dining hopes that by improving information and choices, students will be more inclined to make healthy decisions.

This year UK Dining will feature a Produce of the Month, which will highlight seasonal vegetables at Fresh Food Company and Blazer Cafe. October’s vegetables of the month are broccoli and kale which are being sourced from the UK Horticulture Research Farm.

UK Dining dietitian Lauren McKnight-Ford will be hosting a Healthy Bites Sampling every month using fresh produce in a variety of recipes to promote more fruit and vegetable consumption.

"Including more colorful fruits and vegetables is important because they offer different phytochemicals, antidioxidants and nutrients that help you stay healthy in a variety of ways and help lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes," said McKnight-Ford.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 13 percent of adults consume the daily recommendation of fruit and 9 percent consume the daily recommended amount of vegetables. Individuals should consume one and a half cups of fruit and two to three cups of vegetables per day.

MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, (859) 257-6398;

UPK Encyclopedia Editors, Including UK Historian Gerald Smith, Winners of Kentucky Archives Month Award

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 11:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015)University Press of Kentucky (UPK) co-editors Gerald Smith, Karen Cotton McDaniel and John Hardin have been selected to receive the 2015 Kentucky Archives Month Certificate for Merit for Writing/Publication for their editorship of The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia.

This Kentucky Archives Month Certificate for Merit for Writing/Publication is presented by the Kentucky State Historical Records Advisory Board (SHRAB) in order to recognize individuals who made a significant contribution to the conservation of Kentucky history through extensive research within the state’s archival system. Kentucky Archives Month is an annual celebration of the importance of archives and historical records and of the work of institutions that preserve these unique resources.

Editors Smith, McDaniel and Hardin gathered more than 150 authors to contribute to The Kentucky African American Encyclopedia. Featuring more than 1,000 entries on the individuals, events, places, organizations, movements and institutions that have shaped the state’s history since its origins, the volume also includes topical essays on the civil rights movement, Eastern Kentucky coalfields, business, education and women.

"This seminal work is a wonderful reference tool that will be valued by all who use it," said Valerie Edgeworth, chair of the Kentucky Archives Month Coordinating Committee.

This year’s award will be presented 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, at the Visitor and Information Center on the ground floor of the Carroll Academic Services Building at Kentucky State University. The presentation will be followed by book discussion, Q&A and a book signing.

Smith, McDaniel and Hardin join fellow UPK author Thomas Kiffmeyer who received the award in 2010 for his book "Reformers to Radicals: The Appalachian Volunteers and the War on Poverty."

Gerald L. Smith is a professor of history and holder of the Theodore A. Hallam Professorship (2015–2017) in the University of Kentucky Department of History. He is the author, editor or coeditor of three books and other publications on history. Smith pastors the Pilgrim Baptist Church in Lexington, Kentucky.

Karen Cotton McDaniel is professor emeritus at Kentucky State University, where she was a tenured full professor and director of libraries. She has written more than 20 publications on black Kentuckians, including book chapters, articles and encyclopedic essays. She has also taught at Eastern Kentucky University and Berea College.

John A. Hardin, professor of history at Western Kentucky University, is the author of two books, several major articles and numerous book reviews on Kentucky African-American history. He has taught at Kentucky State University and Eastern Washington University and has also served as adjunct faculty at the University of Louisville and UK.

UPK is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that now includes all of the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. The editorial program of the press focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at UK, which provides financial support toward the operating expenses of the publishing operation.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

UK Forensics Grand Champions at Berea College Tournament

Fri, 10/23/2015 - 08:29

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 26, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Forensics team retained its title as Grand Champion of the John G. Fee memorial tournament hosted annually by Berea College.

The tournament, which features competition in both individual speaking events as well as debate, awards the title of Grand Champion to the team with the most sweepstakes points from those two halves of the tournament. The team also won the large school division of debate sweepstakes as part of this overall team award.

In addition to the team successes, many individual competitors achieved personal bests at this tournament. Members of UK Forensics won four different event categories and earned an equal number of qualifications for the National Forensic Association national tournament in April. Senior Abel Rodriguez III also placed fourth in the individual sweepstakes competition for public speaking events.

Students from UK also achieved the following successes:

After Dinner Speaking

2nd Place – Abel Rodriguez III

Duo Interpretation

3rd Place – Rachel Brase and Megan Wagner

4th Place – Dianté Elcock and Kaylon Kennedy

6th Place – Abel Rodriguez III and Megan Wagner

Impromptu Counseling

1st Place – Abel Rodriguez III

4th Place – Megan Wagner

Impromptu Speaking

1st Place – Abel Rodriguez III

4th Place – Logan Hurley

Novice Parliamentary Debate

1st Place – Dianté Elcock and Veronica Scott

Quarterfinalists – Matt Karijolic and Talha Muhammad

2nd Place Speaker – Veronica Scott

3rd Place Speaker – Matt Karijolic

Novice Public Debate

1st Place – Dianté Elcock

Quarterfinalist – Matt Karijolic

3rd Place Speaker – Dianté Elcock

Open Parliamentary Debate

Semifinalists – Logan Hurley and Abel Rodriguez III

2nd Place Speaker – Abel Rodriguez III

Open Public Debate

Quarterfinalist – Logan Hurley

Quarterfinalist – Kaylon Kennedy

3rd Place Speaker – Logan Hurley

4th Place Speaker – Kaylon Kennedy

Persuasive Speaking

6th Place – Sam Northrup

Poetry Interpretation

7th Place – Dianté Elcock

The University of Kentucky Forensics Team’s next competition will be the Chief Justice Invitational held at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1.

UK Forensics is a student organization in the School of Information Science. The team competes in 12 different public speaking events and three forms of debate. To find out more about the team, visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, (859) 257-6398;

New LGBTQ* Resources Director is Guest on WUKY's 'UK Perspectives'

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 21:09

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — WUKY's "UK Perspectives" focuses on the people and programs of the University of Kentucky and is hosted by WUKY General Manager Tom Godell.  WUKY reporter Chase Cavanaugh is sitting in for Godell today and talks with the director of the University of Kentucky's new Office of LGBTQ* Resources, Lance Poston.

To listen to the podcast interview from which "UK Perspectives" is produced, visit

"UK Perspectives" airs at 8:45 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. each Friday on WUKY 91.3, UK's NPR station.

Get Ready for Halloween With Two New Hauntingly Good UPK Books

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 21:08

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — The University Press of Kentucky (UPK) has released two eerie publications just in time for Halloween, " Next Door to the Dead: Poems" by Kathleen Driskell and " Haunted Holidays: Twelve Months of Kentucky Ghosts" by Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown.

When Kathleen Driskell moved into a disused church in Louisville, Kentucky, she found that there was a cemetery next door in which the 112 residents' stories and secrets could not stay buried. Through Driskill’s imagination, the lives and afterlives of the deceased and their people come into vivid focus in this thought-provoking collection of poems in "Next Door to the Dead." Composed with both surprising humor and riveting profundity, her poems compel us to examine our own mortality, as well as how we impact the finite lives of those around us.

In "Haunted Holidays," celebrated storytellers Roberta Simpson Brown and Lonnie E. Brown have assembled a hair-raising collection of paranormal tales for readers of all ages. More than just a collection of Halloween ghost stories, the Browns' "Haunted Holidays" takes readers on a fireside journey through the hauntings of holidays throughout the calendar year, including tales of the ghost who hated Labor Day and the child who made good on his promise to return a silver dollar on the Fourth of July. "Haunted Holidays" preserves and promotes oral traditions and reveals the importance of sharing beliefs, traditions and values with a new generation of listeners.

Individuals interested in meeting these writers can see them at the Kentucky Book Fair from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 14, at the Frankfort Convention Center, where Driskell, the Browns, and many others will be on hand to greet the public and sign copies of her book.

UPK is the scholarly publisher for the Commonwealth of Kentucky, representing a consortium that now includes all of the state universities, five private colleges and two historical societies. The editorial program of the press focuses on the humanities and the social sciences. Offices for the administrative, editorial, production and marketing departments of the press are found at UK, which provides financial support toward the operating expenses of the publishing operation.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

UK Begins Work on Research Facility Designed to Address State's Health Disparities

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 20:55

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Gov. Steve Beshear, Kentucky Sentate President Robert Stivers, Kentucky House Budget and Appropriations Committee Chair Rick Rand and other state lawmakers join University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, UK Board of Trustees Chair Britt Brockman and UK Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis today in a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new research building on UK's campus.

The campus community is invited to the event at 10 a.m. today behind UK's Biomedical Biological Sciences Research Building off Virginia Avenue, between South Limestone and Press Avenue.

The new research building will provide space for interdisciplinary research projects focusing on Kentucky's health disparities, with a concentration on Appalachia, a region with some of the most pronounced rates of chronic diseases in the country.

Please check back here at 10 a.m. for the complete story with video.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Jay Blanton, 859-699-0041;

UK Begins Work on Research Facility Designed to Address State's Health Disparities

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 20:15

Video Produced by UK Public Relations & Marketing. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.  If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Flanked by Gov. Steve Beshear and legislative leaders, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto Friday announced the beginning of work on a research facility unique in the country — a building dedicated to addressing health challenges and disparities in Kentucky.

"Today, we commence building — not for ourselves, but for the future and the health of the Commonwealth of Kentucky," Capilouto said. "We have said that it is time for death to be a beggar in Kentucky. Today, we mark in a tangible and real way our intent to deliver on that promise."

The research facility — scheduled for completion in spring 2018 — is a $265 million building. Half of the funding for the facility is coming from the state of Kentucky; half is coming from university resources, including private gifts.

“This project represents the potential to improve the lives of so many, both within Kentucky where our health outcomes are so poor, and beyond,” Gov. Beshear said. “I’m proud to have worked with lawmakers from both parties to sign legislation authorizing the construction of this multidisciplinary research building at the University of Kentucky that will help reduce Kentucky’s unacceptably high rates of preventable diseases and deaths. Our entrenched health problems won’t improve without major investment like this project, which will complement the lifesaving efforts at the Markey Cancer Center and its designation as a National Cancer Institute.

"This research facility mirrors the state’s kyhealthnow initiative that aims to significantly reduce incidence and deaths from diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease and to improve the state’s collective health.”  

"Naturally a legislator does things that have an impact in their districts but for the state as a whole I know of nothing in my 19 years that will have a state at large impact on health and health care as this new research facility," said Robert Stivers, president of the Kentucky Senate.

“By investing in this state-of-the-art research facility at the University of Kentucky, we are investing in Kentucky and the health of our people,” said Rick Rand, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “Improving health will save lives, improve our economy, and strengthen communities. It is a direct investment in the future of our Commonwealth."

Two unique areas of focus will distinguish the building:

·         Its focus on Kentucky challenges, particularly health disparities in areas such as a cancer, diabetes, heart diseases, drug abuse, and other health conditions where the state is among the country's leaders in incident rates.

·         Its fostering of multidisciplinary research across numerous fields — health care researchers (both basic and clinical), public health, behavioral sciences, agriculture outreach and extension, economics and engineering  — working in close proximity and collaboratively to develop solutions to these complex problems. A fact sheet with information about the design and building's focus can be seen here.

The design and focus of the building come with a specific scientific underpinning.

"We know that so much of discovery today — whether at the cellular or community level — happens at the intersection of disciplines," said Lisa Cassis, UK's vice president for research. "This facility is being designed to foster discovery and collaboration so that what happens in labs and in the course of basic research can be translated to answers and solutions at the community level."

Specifically, the new facility also will focus work and attention on health disparities in Appalachia, a region with some of the most pronounced rates of chronic diseases in the country.

UK is a founding sponsor of the SOAR (Saving Our Appalachian Region) initiative, sponsored by Gov. Beshear and Congressman Hal Rogers, and has more than 300 actively funded research projects in the region.

The new building will be linked to other major research space in the heart of the campus, the Bio-Pharmacy Building and the Biological Biomedical Research Building, further fostering collaborative and multidisciplinary work. Being referred to as the “Appalachian Translational Trail” this connecting conduit will house the nucleus of translational researchers who bring together all disciplines.

"Last year, almost to the very day, our Board of Trustees along with President Capilouto issued a challenge as part of an ambitious vision to address our state's most pressing questions and needs," said Britt Brockman, chair of the UK Board of Trustees. "We challenged the university and our partners at the state to help us build the kind of cutting-edge facility that would help talented researchers, clinicians and scientists work in collaboration in defeating disease and disparity.

"Today, even though we look toward a horizon with still so much work to do, we know what is possible because of the progress we are making in partnership with each other."

MEDIA NOTE: Soundbites and b-roll without narration, lower-thirds or UK graphics are available for download here:

Just use the password “ukresearch” to access this video.   For any other video needs for this story, contact Amy Jones-Timoney,, 859-257-2940.

MEDIA CONTACTJay Blanton, 859-257-6605 or 699-0041;

UK Board Hears Strategic Plan Goal of 70 Percent Graduation Rate

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 19:02

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2015) — By 2020, the University of Kentucky aims to aggressively increase its six-year graduation rate to 70 percent — an increase of nearly 10 percent over recent figures.

At the same time, the university wants to significantly close the achievement gap — retention and graduation rates — that exists between the general student population and students of color, first-generation students and students eligible for Pell grants.

There currently is a 15 to 17 percent gap in the graduation rate between those students and the general student population. Under the proposed strategic plan, those gaps would be closed to under 10 percent by 2020.

"All great research universities have at their core a great undergraduate education experience," said UK Provost Tim Tracy. "We can and we will be better. The question is what do we do to help them succeed."

The goals for undergraduate success are among the primary components of UK's proposed strategic plan, which is being considered this week by the university's Board of Trustees. The plan is designed to set forward ambitious but achievable goals for the university between now and 2020 as UK aspires to be one of the best public, residential research campuses in the country.

The proposed plan — which can be read here — articulates key initiatives and goals for progress in five core areas:

--Undergraduate student success

--Graduate education


--Diversity and Inclusivity

--Community engagement

Between Thursday and Saturday, board members will hear presentations — with specific goals and areas of measurement — in each of the core strategic objectives. The board, then, is expected to vote on the proposed plan Saturday morning.

In the area of undergraduate education, which along with diversity and inclusivity were the primary areas of focus of Thursday's meeting, Ben Withers, UK's associate provost and dean for undergraduate education, said "we need to provide (students) with the transformational experiences" they need to reach their goals and aspirations ... "Our role as a university is to lead this process of self-discovery."

To that end, Withers said, over the next few years UK will work quickly to better integrate student planning, advising and course registration to track student progress toward graduation.

That will include helping students map out courses over several terms, Withers said, as well as utilizing "improved predictive analytics" to track the progress of students and intervene early when necessary when a student is at academic risk.

The university, Withers said, also will create a more systematic approach to helping students increase their financial literacy and wellness, as debt and financial issues often are large barriers to graduation.

In this initiative, the university will move quickly to create and hire a financial wellness specialist position and develop programs and workshops to help students.

"There has been a steady increase in four and six year graduation rates at the University of Kentucky," Withers said. "But more can be done."

In the area of diversity and inclusivity, Terry Allen, UK's interim vice president for institutional diversity, outlined a timeline to expand training in the area of unconscious bias — the idea of acting and making decisions that may be perceived as prejudicial based on unconscious thoughts.

"There is a tremendous opportunity for us as we move forward," Allen said of the goals outlined in the area of diversity and inclusivity. "Everybody must buy into — and everybody must accept the responsibility and be held accountable for — contributing to the diversity of the University of Kentucky."

The proposed plan also calls for strengthening support for students of different colors, identities and perspectives.

"I'm very pleased that we are setting forth ambitious, but clear and achievable goals for our university — the university for Kentucky," said Britt Brockman, chair of the UK Board of Trustees. "By articulating clear goals — and how we specifically plan to measure our progress — we are telling the people of Kentucky how we are working every day to earn the investment they are making in us, the brightest hope for this state's future.”

The proposed strategic plan being considered by the board is the product of several months of work by hundreds of faculty, staff and students on campus, Tracy told trustees on Thursday. Six workgroups over the past several months examined trends in national higher education, the progress of UK relative to its benchmark institutions, and places where the university had gaps and could make progress.

"You need a plan," Tracy said of the proposed plan. "You need resources and you need responsibility — people who are going to carry it out." 

57 Honored With UK Outstanding Staff Awards

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 16:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Recognizing the accomplishments of staff across the University of Kentucky, 57 UK staff members were honored with Outstanding Staff Awards (OSA) Wednesday at Spindletop Hall. This was the sixth year for the event sponsored by the Office of the President and UK Staff Senate.

University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, representatives of the Board of Trustees, colleagues and other campus leaders were in attendance to celebrate the awardees. Entertainment included performances by students from the UK Department of Theatre and Dance and a jazz ensemble from the UK School of Music.

“You are our heroes on the frontlines; supporting and contributing to the important work that happens across our campus each day," said President Capilouto to honorees. "You inspire your fellow colleagues and proudly represent your unit, college and our university. Without you, all that we do through our multi-faceted work, and the 150-year-old legacy we carry forward would not be possible. We would not be here today without you."

OSA winners were all referred by their respective work units as their most deserving employees of 2014-15.

"Staff members are very grateful that President Capilouto and the Staff Senate value their work and take the opportunity each year to honor them at such a beautiful place, The Club at UK’s Spindletop Hall," said Holly Jones Clark, OSA program chair. "I am delighted that the program continues to grow. Our newest participant is the College of Fine Arts whose students provided exceptional entertainment this year. Our hope is that colleges and units without award programs will establish them."

The 57 OSA winners represented 20 colleges and administrative units, including the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, College of Arts and Sciences, Gatton College of Business and Economics, College of Communication and Information, College of Dentistry, College of Education, College of Engineering, College of Fine Arts, College of Health Sciences, College of Law, College of Nursing, College of Public Health, Human Resources, Office of Development, Office of the Treasurer, Student Affairs, UK HealthCare, UK HealthCare IT, UK Libraries, and Undergraduate Education.

2015 Outstanding Staff Award winners are:

Tammy Barnes

Susan Campbell

Lisa Slone Cox

Endre Fink

Olivia Coleman Jones

Walter Rhodus

John Stanhope

Riley Jason Walton

Lori Eckdahl

Raegan Wilson

Allo Petro

Deborah S. O'Daniel

Michelle Lowe

Maggie Chapman

Amber Troxell

Barbara Dickson

Sherry Hamilton

Tami Jones

Phyllis Bates

Kimberly Nicholas

Diane Freeman

Shelia D. Williams

Jane V. Andrus

Sam Woolery

Wayne Centers

Patricia Alvayay

Kerrie Moore

Margaret L. McGladrey

Kimberly Blanton

Bryan Boling

Janice Bugg

Linda Clements

Diana Gregory

Dianna L. Holtzhauer

Peggy Scheibel

Donna Woolums

Lisa V. Wright

Joy Barnes

Robert Brown

Sharon Maclaughlin

Laura J. Williams

Ashley Myers

Ward Suthon

Carol Watson

Marie Dale

Janet Layman

Peggy Phillips

George Thomas Barker

Debbie A. Brown

Kristin Sullivan Cruser

Seth Flynn

Lois Thomas

Tori Amason

Debbie Calvert

Marie Hartke

Jacob L. Karnes, Jr.

C. Lynn Hiler

The OSA Program Committee includes Holly Jones Clark, Misty Dotson, Ayriana Catlett, Mindy McCulley, James K. Morris and Clem Stambaugh.

MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Harder, 859-323,2396,

UK Participates in Come Together Kentucky Conference

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 16:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — Lexington will be well represented by busloads of University of Kentucky students as well as local high school students and community leaders at the 2015 Come Together Kentucky Conference: With Liberty and Justice for All, hosted today through Sunday at Murray State University.

This year is a turning point for the conference that has focused on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues for 20 years. In the past, dedicated student and community leaders have organized and planned the conferences.

Now, the four universities in the state that staff and fund offices dedicated exclusively to their LGBTQ communities – UK, Murray State, the University of Louisville and Northern Kentucky University – have agreed to support the annual event, giving it more stability and a more secure future. The four also agreed to rotate hosting the event. All interested high school and college students as well as community members statewide are still welcome, regardless of the hosting site.

“This will provide additional support for the event, ensuring its robust future,” said Lance Poston, director of the UK Office of LGBTQ* Resources. “This commitment will make the annual conference sustainable, lifting the burden a bit for those individuals and groups that have kept it alive all these years through sheer will power.”

The conference planners’ goals for those attending are to learn to take pride in being part of the LGBTQ community, while developing as active leaders shaping their vision of the future; to understand the intersectionality of identities to better advocate for liberty and justice for all; and to develop and cultivate friendships with other students, faculty, staff and community members.

In addition to supporting the annual conference, the four universities have committed to support each other’s ideas and programs and to serve the other Kentucky public institutions that don’t have a fully developed program of their own, said Poston.

“The conference has been student-led for all these years. It will continue to be student-led in the future,” said Poston. “The significant difference is that Come Together Kentucky will be an institution-supported force moving forward.”

With this year’s theme “With Liberty and Justice for All,” the conference will focus on LGBTQ identity, social justice and fostering community, while providing networking opportunities. Participants will experience a weekend-long professional and interactive conference with keynote speakers, programming sessions and social activities.

Come Together Kentucky’s keynote speakers this year include Brandie Balken, program director of the Gill Foundation; Carly Lehwald, a trans advocate and a cast member of ABC Family’s “Becoming Us;" Roey Thorpe, director of advocacy programs for the Equality Federation; and Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd, who is also the director of the Human Rights Campaign for Alabama.

“The theme, ‘With Liberty and Justice for All,’ provides a space for individuals to celebrate recent progress for LGBTQ equality, while also hearing from nationally recognized speakers and participating in discussions on some of the ongoing struggles that remain for underrepresented populations in Kentucky and around the country,” said Jody Cofer Randall, LGBT coordinator at Murray State.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gail Hairston, 859-257-3302,

UK Debate Team Off to a Strong Start After First Two Tournaments

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 15:52

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) — The University of Kentucky Debate team competed in the 44th Run for the Roses. The Run for the Roses is a small round robin format tournament where eight of the top teams in the country were invited to compete against the top Kentucky team.

The field represented the best of the best including Harvard, Michigan, Georgetown and Emory. The Kentucky team of Donald Grasse and Theo Noparstak finished as the tournament’s first and third speaker. This was the first time a Kentucky debater had won the top speaker since 1993 (Paul Skiermont).

A day later the entire Kentucky squad and almost 100 more teams joined the field for the 45th Henry Clay Invitational. Donald Grasse would again take the top speaker (out of 186 competitors) and he and his partner would make another incredible run to the semi-finals.

Two other Kentucky teams reached the sweet sixteen of the tournament, something no other school accomplished and something not done by a Kentucky squad in at least two decades.

"The team is off to their best start in more than twenty years," said coach Dave Arnett. "After the first two major tournaments of the year, Kentucky has finished second and third, out of around 100 teams at each.

"Last year they showed the country Kentucky debate was back with a sweet sixteen appearance at the National Championship tournament. This year builds on that and has the squad in the conversation for its first national championship since 1986.”

Donald Grasse, a distinguished member of the UK Debate team, says the team is able to finish strongly during competitions through lots of research and preparation. “I personally dedicate 40 plus hours a week to debate research.”

The team is doing better than ever in last two decades.

“For the first time since 1993, we have three teams hovering around the top 20 in the nation," said Grasse. "We had at least two teams in the top 16, we have been in the top four finishers twice and we found ourselves in finals once."

For more information about the UK Debate team visit their website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Blair Hoover, (859) 257-6398;

Annual 'hEAR the Music' Benefits UK's Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program

Thu, 10/22/2015 - 13:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 23, 2015) – For the second year, the University of Kentucky Department of Otolaryngology and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center, will host Songs for Sound 'hEAR the Music,' an event to promote UK's cochlear implant program at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25 at the UK Singletary Center for the Arts. Proceeds from the event will benefit UK's Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, which is run jointly by the Department of Otolaryngology and the Lexington Hearing and Speech Center.

Songs for Sound, a non-profit organization from Nashville was founded by Kevin and Jamie Vernon whose daughter Alexis is a cochlear implant recipient. Their core mission is to improve the quality of life for profoundly deaf children worldwide by providing resources to give them the chance at a mainstream life. Songs for Sound informs the hearing-impaired community and provides resources for cochlear implants and rehabilitation, including speech/audiology services, to children and adults in need.

This year's program features the musical talent of the Warren Brothers and Lance Miller, two of Nashville's elite hit songwriters performing their hits which have been performed by such artists as Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Dierks Bently, Martina McBride, Thomas Rhett, Jerrod Nieman and Lance Miller. 

In addition to the evening's musical entertainment, some of UK's cochlear implant patients will share stories about their journey to hear again in the face of hearing loss.

"Songs for Sound 'Hear the Music’ is such an important event for our patients, the University of Kentucky, and our region," said Dr. Matt Bush, assistant professor in UK's Department of Otolaryngology.  "It represents a collaborative effort among dedicated clinicians, amazing patients and the generous Songs for Sound team. Our cochlear implant program has grown progressively over the past 20 years and this event will enable us to expand our research and extent our reach to provide the absolute best hearing healthcare for patient throughout Kentucky and beyond. This will be a fantastic event that will highlight top country artists and patients who, in spite of their hearing loss, have regained the ability to ‘hEAR the music.’”

VIP level sponsorship for 'Hear the Music' which includes complimentary tickets and admission to special pre-concert reception can be purchased from the Songs for Sound website ( and general admission tickets ($30) can be purchased directly from the Singletary Center for the Arts website or at the Ticket office located at 405 Rose St., Lexington, Ky 40508. Children 12 and under are admitted for free and their tickets can be secured from the Singletary center box office. UK employees and students and Lexington Hearing and Speech center staff can receive $5 tickets from the Singletary center box office with a valid ID.

Doors will open to the Singletary Center President’s Room at 5:45 p.m. the day of the event for the VIP reception and the concert will begin at 7 p.m. in the Singletary Center Recital Hall for the general admission ticket holders. Live and silent auctions will be held at the event and feature UK basketball tickets, an Orlando vacation condo, and many other exciting items. For more information, email in the UK Otolaryngology department or call the Singletary Center at 859-257-4929.

Media Contact: Ann Blackford at 859-323-6442 or

Celebration Today of Largest Single Gift in UK History

Wed, 10/21/2015 - 20:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2015) — The largest single gift in the University of Kentucky's 150-year history will be announced in a celebratory event on the school's campus today.  The gift will focus on student success.

The campus community is invited to attend the announcement, which will be made at 10 a.m. today on the patio of The 90.  The event will also be live streamed here.  Also, following the event, check back here for the full story and video.


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