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Updated: 43 min 34 sec ago

"seeing blue." Throughout Homecoming Week

Thu, 10/23/2014 - 11:35

Friday, October 24, 2014

What a great week it has been to "see blue." I have so enjoyed seeing all of the fantastic Wildcat spirit on our campus throughout homecoming week, and I look forward to the culmination this weekend!

This week has really been a testament to how people make the place at UK.

Tuesday night, our students gathered on Administration Lawn in front of the Main Building to set up carnival games and trick-or-treating for children from local schools. This event has become community tradition that has gotten better every year.

This past Sunday night, the UK Black Student Union and the Delta Sigma Theta organization hosted "Mr. and Mrs. Black UK," collecting canned goods for charity and recognizing two of our most outstanding African American students.

And on Wednesday, our students gathered in Wildcat Alumni Plaza to celebrate the week with our UK cheerleaders, dance team and the UK Pep Band. It was incredible to see the amount of pride and school spirit our students demonstrated as they cheered for our talented athletes and band members. The Homecoming Royalty Court was also announced at this event, showcasing the accomplished students who have earned the respect and votes of their peers, based on their academic excellence and community involvement.

It's an exciting time to be a Wildcat, and it's sure to be a great weekend. I encourage students, faculty and staff to attend the events that continue throughout Homecoming weekend. Click here to view a full schedule of events.

One event in particular that I would like to highlight is the Dance Blue 5K, which takes place on Sunday at Coldstream Park. If any event exemplifies how people make the place, it is DanceBlue, a student-run philanthropy event that raises awareness and funds for the DanceBlue Kentucky Children's Hospital Pediatric Hematology/Oncology Clinic. Registration will take place from 1 – 2:30 p.m. at Coldstream Park; the race begins at 3 p.m. The cost is $20 before Oct. 10, $25 after Oct. 11, register at

Have a great weekend and GO CATS!

All the best,


UK's United Way Campaign

Tue, 10/14/2014 - 09:17

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ralph Waldo Emerson said that “to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived: this is to have succeeded.” At the University of Kentucky, service is part of our identity; it's at the core of our mission and our vision for the future.

As part of our commitment to service, earlier this month we kicked off of our annual UK-United Way Campaign. Over the last two years, we have raised over $500,000 to support the more than 80 agencies and programs served by United Way.

The University of Kentucky has set a goal of $350,000 for the 2014 United Way Campaign, which lasts through Friday, October 31.  As of Friday, October 11, $103,517.29 had been donated (29.58% of the total).

I'm happy to provide information regarding how members of the UK family can continue to support this important cause.

  • If you would like to complete a Payroll Deduction Pledge On-line, this can be accessed through your myUK Employee Self-Service Tab.  Just click on the Benefits and Payments Tab; then choose the United Way from the screen menu. 
  • The first of two prize drawings will be held on Friday, October 17.  Donations must be in the system by 4:00 p.m. on Friday to be eligible.  Prize winners will be announced on Monday, October 20.  Items in this drawing include:
  • 5 Plus-Dining Cards ($20 value each)
  • 1 pair football tickets w/parking permit (UK vs Georgia, November 8) $100 value
  • 1 pair of men’s basketball tickets – UK vs. Buffalo (November 16).  Lower arena seating, $60 value

For additional information, including instructional videos for making your pledge, campaign updates and personal stories from the people your contribution helps, please visit:

Thank you for your commitment to serving our community!

All the best,


Welcoming our Community: UK Family Weekend

Mon, 10/06/2014 - 10:03

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

This weekend our campus will opens its doors for 2014 University of Kentucky Family Weekend. Thanks to the great work of our UK Parent Association, we will welcome members of the UK community from across our Commonwealth and beyond. With so many great events planned, it's hard to imagine a better way to spend a weekend!

You can access the full schedule of events here:

I encourage students with family members attending to check in at the Boone Center on Friday, October 10. By doing so, you can meet with UK Parent Association Staff and pick up the official Family Weekend guide, which describes all of the different events taking place throughout the weekend. The check-in will also host a resource fair where you will have the opportunity to learn more about organizations and offices at UK.

In addition, you might also consider stopping by the UK Visitor Center located in the Main Building on campus and the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau in downtown Lexington so your relatives can learn more about all that UK and Lexington have to offer.

On Friday, from 1-5 p.m., Academic Advisors will be available in 109 Miller Hall. Students and parents can meet with advisors to discuss questions about majors and other academic matters at UK. They will also be able to refer you to other campus resources and answer questions as students prepare to register for spring semester classes.

On Friday at 8 p.m., the Student Activities Board will present magician Derek Hughes, in Memorial Hall. Hughes created original deception for MTV’s Room 401, Justin Willman’s YouTube series Magic Meltdown, and Michael Carbonaro’s appearances as the magic clerk on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Tickets are free for UK students, faculty, staff, Parent Association members, and children 12 and under. Tickets are $5 for all others. Ticket information is available here:

On Saturday, from 9:30-10:30 a.m., Education Abroad at UK will host an Education Abroad Information Session in the Hub, in the basement of the William T. Young Library. For those students interested studying, interning, conducting research, engaging in service or teaching abroad, this is a great opportunity for you and your relatives to learn about different opportunities and to ask questions. To RSVP, email Seth Riker at with your name and the number of attendees in your party.

On Saturday from 9:30-12:30, The UK Parent Association will host a Family Weekend Tent Party, leading up to the Louisiana-Monroe football game! The tent will be located at the corner of Farm Road and Nicholasville Road next to the Gluck Equine Research Center, and is open to everyone, even those not planning to attend the game. Tickets are $8 for UK Parent Association members and $12 for all others. UK students get a free ticket with a valid student ID. Ticket information is available here:

These are just a few of the great events planned for this weekend. I encourage everyone to take a look at the full schedule.

It's going to be a terrific weekend, and I'm so looking forward to meeting more members of our UK family. If you have any questions about the weekend, contact the UK Parent Association at or (859) 257-6597.

See you this weekend, and let's go Wildcats!

All the best,


An Update From Our Student Leaders

Mon, 09/29/2014 - 14:17

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Students are at the center of everything we do at the University of Kentucky. And this year, I have had the pleasure to work with a fantastic student leader, UK Student Government Association President Jake Ingram.

I asked Jake to provide an update from Student Government. As you can see from his account below, our students are engaging with the community, building leadership skills and helping their peers achieve success. It’s very encouraging to see the passion these students bring to our university and our community.

Please enjoy.

There is a lot going on in University of Kentucky Student Government this semester. From advocating for students to encouraging civic engagement – it has been a busy year so far.

Each year SGA selects 40 freshmen to be a part of the Leadership Development Program. LDP is dedicated to building future leaders on campus. Participants will have opportunities to work with various campus organizations, network with student leaders and administrators and learn how to become a leader on campus.

This year over 200 freshmen applied, 98 were invited to interview and from there we selected 40 students to make up the LDP class of 2014-2015. The group has already heard from campus leaders Eric Monday and Kelley Bozeman. They will soon be taking a tour of the Joe Craft Center and talking to UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart.

Along with equipping student leaders, we are working hard to get UK students civically engaged. Our Director of Government Relations, Colby Hall, is doing an excellent job. Last week we partnered with WRFL to host a voter registration drive called Rock the Vote.

The event was held on Tuesday, September 23rd – National Voter Registration Day. We were out on the Student Center Patio with laptops available for students to register to vote online through TurboVote. The event was a huge success as many students stopped by and either registered to vote for the first time or re-registered to vote in Fayette County.

Colby is also working hard to establish connections with government leaders both in Frankfort and Washington. SGA facilitates a program called the Wildcat Interest Group (WIG). WIG is a program that represents SGA’s Governmental Relations division, an extension designed to lobby local, state, and federal legislators on behalf of the University's students, enhance civic awareness, promote civic engagement and build working relationships with national leaders.

WIG provides summer internships in Washington, D.C. and has recently expanded to provide internships in leadership offices in Frankfort. These internships provide students with first-hand experience in government offices.

We are also working to keep students safe in a number of ways. We are continuing to run our free cab service – Cats Cab. Cats Cab runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 p.m.-3 a.m. The service provides students with a free and safe ride anywhere within New Circle Road. This is a great way to ensure students are getting home safely.

I am also advocating on behalf of students as part of the Student Health and Safety Task force. This group is compiled of UK and Lexington leaders who care about the safety of students. My job in this role is to bring a student perspective to the table on the topics of the alcohol policy and the revised Student Code of Conduct.

I am very excited for the 2014-2015 year at the University of Kentucky. I am very pleased with all that we have accomplished so far and am looking forward to the great things to come! 

Supporting our World-Class Faculty

Mon, 09/22/2014 - 19:02

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

People make the place at the University of Kentucky.

And it goes without saying that our faculty play a crucial role in making our vision-- to be the institution of choice for students in the Commonwealth and the region, and to be the pre-eminent place for graduate education, research and service that transforms our state-- a reality. 

This commitment underscores and informs the importance of the Office of Faculty Advancement.

This office exists to support the full range of faculty career progression at the University of Kentucky, serving faculty and administrators in matters regarding faculty, including appointments for all title series, faculty promotions and granting of tenure, faculty orientation and development, administrative position development, faculty awards and award nominations, and faculty partner employment assistance, among a host of other important initiatives.

To further support the work of our faculty, the office is providing the following upcoming opportunities:

Tonight, the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (CELT) is holding an Open House on from 2-4 p.m. in their 5th floor offices of the M. I. King Bldg. This is a great opportunity to see their space and learn more about the services they offer.

The Office of Faculty Advancement is presenting two workshops for faculty this week: “Grant Writing: From an Idea to Funding," from 9 a.m. -3 p.m., Wednesday, September 24, at the Boone Center; and a workshop for faculty preparing for promotion and tenure in the next two years, “Advancing Your Career & Reducing Your Anxiety," from 2-3:30 p.m. on Friday, September 26, in the Wethington Bldg., Commons, Rm 127.

The Office of Assessment conducted the Collegiate Learning Assessment on Friday and Saturday, with 197 students participating. Make-up sessions will be conducted later this week.

The 2014-15 SEC Academic Leadership Development Program (ALDP) Fellows will be traveling to the University of Missouri, Columbia, Missouri on Oct. 12-15 for their first on-campus leadership training program.  This year’s fellows are:  Dr. Kimberly Anderson, College of Engineering; Dr. Karen Badger, College of Social Work; Dr. Katie Cardarelli, College of Public Health; and Dr. Andrew Hippesley, College of Arts and Sciences.

Please contact Rita Wilkie at 859 323-6589 or, with any questions regarding these opportunities.

Yes, people make the place, and a critical part of our role in the provost’s office is providing the support necessary for our incredible faculty to maximize their potential for education, research, service and care across our Commonwealth and world.

All the best,


Presentation U: Our Students Are “the Ultimate Presentation”

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 16:43

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Students, faculty and staff have undoubtedly noticed an exciting new addition to the Hub in the William T. Young Library.

The Presentation U Tutoring Center @ The Hub has been buzzing with activity this semester. Of course, this space represents far more than an exciting addition to the library. Presentation U is the culmination of several years of work by various people across our campus.

Presentation U represents a comprehensive effort to help students improve their presentation and communication skills across various platforms, through tutoring assistance and training with multimodal skills and projects. The initiative focuses on improving the student learning experience by helping them develop integrated oral, written, visual and multimedia communication skills-- important skills for all of our students, no matter what their major or career path may be.

Why is this important?

According to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, nearly 76 percent of employers say written communication skills are highly important when hiring recent college graduates. And more than 67 percent of employers require strong verbal skills.

We are very excited to announce that Presentation U will also offer a satellite location at The Study North (located on the 1st floor of Champions Court I) that will open beginning on September 22, 2014. This location will offer the same services as Presentation U @ the Hub to assist students with their multimodal communication needs.

As I said, this initiative is the result of very dedicated and passionate work from members of the UK family. Deanna Sellnow from the College of Communication and Information and Diane Snow from the College of Medicine, served as our QEP co-chairs, and diligently guided Presentation U from conceptualization to a very successful implementation. 

Presentation U began as the university's "Quality Enhancement Plan" (QEP), one of 12 core requirements the university takes on to reaffirm its accreditation through The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)-- the body that accredits institutions of higher education in the southern states. Every 10 years, the UK undergoes this process of reaffirmation.

Last April, a “site visit team” responsible for UK’s review came to our campus and met with Dr. Capilouto and our leadership team. We discussed our goals and aspirations for our University, as well as our plans to evaluate specific programs and processes we use to achieve them. The team also assessed our campus's awareness and familiarity with Presentation U. The team was very impressed by the conceptualization, execution and promotion of this vastly important initiative.

Faculty members interested in becoming more involved with this initiative still have the opportunity to do so, through the Faculty Fellows Program. Participating fellows will get help designing instructional lessons and assignments, as well as preparing and using rubrics to evaluate and assess student work as they integrate (oral, written, visual, digital) instruction and assignments into upper division courses in their majors.

Details for participating in the Faculty Fellows Program are available here.

This is an exciting and important initiative for our campus. And it reflects a central value of our university-- our commitment to preparing our students for success.

All the best,


The Commonwealth's Library

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 14:59

Tuesday, Sept, 9, 2014

Everyone has a favorite spot on our beautiful, transforming campus. And I would wager that, for many of our students, that favorite spot is the William T. Young Library, or as they affectionately call it, "Willy T."

It's not hard to figure out why. What many people may not realize, however, is that our library system not only serves our students, faculty and staff; it serves the entire Commonwealth in various and compelling ways.  

First and foremost, UK Libraries are open to the public. We offer a borrower's card at any University of Kentucky library if the borrower is 18 years of age and shows one of the following forms of ID: a valid Kentucky driver's license, a valid Kentucky non-driver's ID card, an active student or faculty/staff id from an approved reciprocal college, or a UK alumni card.

We also offer reference assistance via phone, email and chat.   These services are open to all who connect with UK Libraries.  

In addition, UK Libraries assist in bolstering our state's economy, by conducting outreach with Kentucky small businesses through Bluegrass Small Business Development Center.  The libraries assist in getting owners the information to launch successful enterprises.

In 2003, two UK librarians launched the University of Kentucky Libraries’ Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, which gets more than 250,000 hits each year. More than half of these hits come from people within the state of Kentucky. The database is used as an in-class educational tool at all state universities and colleges in Kentucky and at many of the state’s K-12 schools.  It is also used as an education source at the state’s public libraries.  A link to the database can be found on the webpages of these institutions.  

UK Libraries also plays in central role in improving access to high-quality information related to healthcare: The UK Medical Center Library (MCL) serves as an Outreach Library for the Greater Midwest Region (GMR) of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM).   

There are only sixteen designated outreach libraries across the GMR’s ten state area. These libraries assist the GMR in promoting National Library of Medicine resources and services by conducting training sessions, providing document delivery to unaffiliated health professionals, and exhibiting at professional conferences and community events in their state, among other duties.       

The MCL is active statewide, working with health professionals, public libraries, health departments, and community groups to improve the access to high-quality information.

Providing Kentuckians with effective health information seeking skills is important to improved health for everyone in our community. MCL activities for the most recent NN/LM fiscal year (May 2013-April 2014) included fifteen exhibits and three training sessions reaching an estimated 1,944 individuals across the state.   

Our libraries, like our institution, champion a commitment to improving the lives of Kentuckians. The UK Library system through all of these efforts, of which these are just a few examples, upholds that commitment each and every day.

I'd like to thank Dean Birdwhistell and his team for an absolutely outstanding job serving our institution and our Commonwealth.  

All the best,


2014 UK "see blue." Preview Nights Start Tonight

Tue, 09/02/2014 - 07:35

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Campus is buzzing again. Last week our UK family welcomed the class of 2018 and strengthened our community through an extremely successful K Week. Now classes have begun, and it's hard to believe that the semester has already launched into full force.

It's even harder to believe that it's time for our Admissions office to start their work in recruiting the class of 2019.

But today marks a very important day in the life of our enrollment management team. Tonight, Associate Provost for Enrollment Management, Don Witt, and his team will host their first UK "see blue." Preview Night for 2014.

Preview Nights are exciting opportunities for us to share what it means to "see blue." Faculty and staff from numerous colleges and departments at UK, along with representatives from the Office of Undergraduate Admission and University Registrar, travel across the Commonwealth and to select cities in neighboring states to share information and excitement about UK. 

We are so proud of the wealth of opportunities that we offer our students. With more than 200 academic programs spread across 16 colleges and professional schools, more than 500 student organizations and clubs to join, or 22 varsity sports programs to follow throughout the year, there is something for everyone at the University of Kentucky.

These programs are wonderful opportunities to show off all that we have to offer. 

I'd like to thank Don Witt and his team for their months of hard work preparing for these fantastic events, as well as all of the faculty, staff and students who travel with the team to make these Preview Nights so successful. Your important work helps us continue to attract the best and brightest to our university.

I encourage everyone in the UK community to attend one of these events. Click here to see a 2014 Preview Night calendar.

I hope that everyone had a relaxing Labor Day Weekend and you are ready for another full, busy and exciting semester!

All the best,


Preparing Our Students to Lead in an Interconnected World

Wed, 08/27/2014 - 16:39

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I hope that everyone had a wonderful first day of classes yesterday.

I really enjoyed walking around campus and seeing the fresh faces of our students, so excited to be here and ready to learn.

Of course, our campus is not the only place where our students are learning. We have students engaging in education abroad programs in 24 countries this fall. I'm very proud of our continued success in education abroad, which is part of the overall efforts to internationalize our campus. One of the great challenges in higher education today involves preparing students to be leaders in an increasingly interconnected world.

I like to say that people make the place, and I'm very happy to recognize the dedicated individuals who are leading these internationalization efforts. Our Education Abroad director Dr. Anthony Ogden and our Associate Provost Susan Carvalho have been invaluable in creating global learning communities on our campus and providing student support for those interested in pursuing education abroad. 

Dr. Ogden has refocused the key question for outgoing students, from “where do you want to go?” to “what are you studying, and how can international experience help you reach your academic goals?” We have seen the positive impacts of this refocusing in various ways. It allows us to engage faculty in ways that we previously could not. It also allows us to promote education abroad programs and opportunities to students as a central part of their major.

Several programs now offer a "global track," which includes approved coursework that integrates well into the academic majors. This also links education abroad with our core goals of reducing time-to-degree and increasing retention among our undergraduates. This refocus has also transitioned students’ emphasis from academic tourism to intellectual engagement abroad, as well as how education abroad can help them attain their professional goals.

These efforts have doubled our student participation numbers since 2006, and we expect them to continue to increase due to the linkage between education abroad and academic departments.

People really do make the place. And I'm grateful for that these committed individuals are helping our students be successful not only on our campus, but all over the world. 

Serving the Commonwealth Throughout the Summer

Tue, 08/19/2014 - 07:17

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Our campus is buzzing with activity this week. Over the weekend more than 1,100 students moved in to their residence halls, and we will welcome nearly 5,000 more over the course of tomorrow,Friday and Saturday.

Campus may have seemed comparatively quiet over the past several months, but that of course does not mean that important, meaningful efforts were not underway while the bulk of students were on summer break.

In fact, hundreds of students from across the Commonwealth, K-12 to graduate, visited our campus through a variety of programs this summer.

Programs such as the UK College of Education's "See Blue STEM Camp," and the UK College of Design's "Design Discovery Program" provided opportunities for youth throughout the state to come to UK and learn. As the commonwealth's indispensable institution, our commitment to programs like these-- programs that allow young people from across the state to form learning communities, to pursue their passions and discover new disciplines-- is central to our mission.

I'm very proud of what I have seen unfold on this campus this summer.

Here are just a couple of examples, among many:

"See Blue STEM Camp"

The College of Education's Department of STEM Education  held its popular See Blue STEM Camp in July, which gave rising 5th-8th graders in Kentucky the opportunity participate in a week-long camp of hands-on projects in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 

In partnership with the College of Engineering, the camp offered 144 students a peek into the world of STEM, offering real-world applications that demonstrated what careers in the STEM fields might entail.

Led by Margaret Mohr-Schroeder, associate professor of STEM Education, and College of Engineering professor Bruce Walcott, the camp also gave many UK students volunteers valuable teaching experience, mentorship from faculty, and the opportunity to witness the powerful impact of the camp's unique teaching approach.

"Design Discovery Program"

For the fourth year in a row, high school students and incoming first-year students had the opportunity to explore design fundamentals in the UK College of Design’s  Design Discovery Program. This weeklong program is designed to expose prospective students to the type of learning environment they would encounter in a design education setting.

Participants took part in design and drawing exercises, model-making workshops led by College of Design faculty, and field trips to gain an understanding of what constitutes the studio experience of a first-year student at the college.

Students also toured local design firms Ross Tarrant Architects, alt32 and Gray Construction, where they spoke with UK/CoD alumni and design professionals.

My daughter, Mikaela, participated in the College of Design program. She had a wonderful time, formed great new relationships and, perhaps most importantly, fueled her passion for learning.

I'm very grateful for the dedicated individuals who executed and oversaw these programs this summer. Thank you for your commitment  to the university and state that we serve.

All the best,


"see impact." at the Superfund Research Center

Mon, 08/11/2014 - 13:41

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Last week, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn even more about the University of Kentucky's impact on the Commonwealth.

I met with Bernie Hennig, Director of the UK Superfund Research Center. We had a fascinating discussion about the important work occurring at this center, where UK researchers study a variety of important environmental science and health issues.

Dr. Hennig explained that Kentucky has more than 200 federal Superfund sites, (sites contaminated with hazardous substances), including 14 that are on the National Priority List.

The UK Superfund Research Center is highly interdisciplinary and supports the efforts of more than 50 scientists and students from 15 departments within the colleges of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts and Sciences; Engineering; Medicine; and Public Health. 

A team led by Dr. Zach Hilt is looking at new ways of finding and capturing pollutants in the environment, while Dr. Dibakar Bhattacharyya's team is studying how nanotechnology can help clean up these pollutants, making a safer environment.

To help those already exposed to these persistent chemicals in the environment, scientists in Dr. Hennig's lab are examining the potential for healthful nutrition to offset some of the inflammatory aspects of exposure that contribute to atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Lisa Cassis's team is examining the complex relationship between PCB exposure and the development of obesity and diabetes, while Dr. Kevin Pearson is looking at how exercise during pregnancy can benefit the offspring of exposed animals, utilizing experimental conditions that mimic human exposure. A number of cores led by faculty from across the university focus on analysis, translating findings, engaging communities, and training the next generation of scientists to support this important research.

Just last month, we announced that the Superfund Center received a $12.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health; it will support the researchers in better understanding how to minimize negative health and environmental impacts from hazardous waste sites.

This is particularly exciting because UK is one of only four programs funded in 2014.

Thanks to Dr. Hennig's leadership and the compelling work of our UK researchers, the UK center sits in in a very elite group of just 19 centers nationwide, and has received funding for its Superfund work since 1997.

Of course, our UK Superfund Research Center also provides extraordinary opportunities for graduate research. I was very moved by Dr. Hennig's stories about the graduate students who, like the faculty members who work at the center, are dedicated to environmental cleanup and improving health with their research.

Three of these Superfund trainees, Maggie Murphy, Brad Newsome and Li Xiao, shared their experiences. I encourage you to listen to their compelling stories. 

I welcome you to look at the UK Superfund Research Center website to learn more about the Superfund Center activities and about all the UK scientists and students who are part of this Center.

All the best, 


Supporting First Generation Students

Tue, 08/05/2014 - 08:31

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

We have a lot to be proud of at the University of Kentucky. It’s a special place — something I’m reminded of daily. Among the many things that make this place so special is the commitment of everyone —faculty and staff alike — to putting students at the center of everything we do.

Their stories move me. Their journeys, their success, their goals for the future — those stories remind us of why we are and why what we do as a university community is so important.

Consider just one such story among countless out there about our students.

Recent graduate Brittany Wise is from Frankfort, Kentucky. Brittany is a first generation student — the very first person in her family to attend college. Like many other first generation students, Brittany said she arrived on campus unsure of herself and daunted by the prospect of navigating her way through the college system.

But Brittany quickly found her home at UK within the First Scholars Program. Housed in the Office of First Generation Initiatives, the program provides a support system designed for first generation students. It connects students directly with a program coordinator and peer mentors. Those mentors provide a safe place to engage in focused programming that addresses social, emotional and financial needs.

She described the community as a second family-- a network of people who understood her unique needs and empowered her to reach her full potential.

Brittany said that knowing she had this network made all of the difference in the world:  from big things like advising, to even the little things, like having someone to text for directions around Lexington.

She graduated last May and is now working in the accounting department at the state’s community and technical college system. It’s the type of job she never dreamed she would have right out of school. But Brittany now sees only possibilities where before she saw only limits.

I was so moved by Brittany's story because it highlights the importance of community on our campus. Programs housed in the Office of First Generation Initiatives, like The First Scholars Program, The Robinson Scholars Program and Student Support Services, create an environment in which these communities can take root, empowering students to succeed.

I'm very grateful to the faculty and staff in this office; and I'm so proud of students like Brittany.

You can learn more about these programs at They are part of what make UK special and the speak to the people who make this place our state’s brightest hope  for the future.

All the best,


Helping Our Students Succeed

Mon, 07/28/2014 - 17:11

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

This month marked my one-year anniversary as a proud member of the University of Kentucky family. I've been inspired and amazed by what we have been able to accomplish together; it's a great feeling to take into the start of a new academic year. 

The initiatives underway and the progress they represent for our institution reinforce that statement. I'm very grateful for the teams of dedicated and talented individuals contributing to these important efforts.

Over the past couple of weeks, I have had the chance to meet many students who are on campus to complete the orientation process.  These bright students have inspired me to reflect on the impressive strides that we have made in the arena of student success.  Below are just a few highlights of accomplishments from the past year:

Retention Efforts. We know that, as part of our commitment to student success, we must always think about how we can better our efforts in retention. This past year, we implemented, for the first time ever, the use of predictive analytics to identify at-risk students and provide individual interventions. In addition, we created a new campus-wide retention advisory committee responsible for sharing data, establishing best-practices, and planning initiatives for student success. We also revised outreach processes to allow for better collection of meaningful data and identified specific retention practices to implement each year.

Visit the Campus Retention Advisory Committee’s website here.

Education Abroad. We have made great strides in promoting international education on our campus. Nearly 1,100 students participated in education abroad opportunities for academic credit during the 2013-2014 academic year, representing a 43.5 percent increase of the number of students choosing non-traditional study destinations, outside Western Europe, and a 53.7 percent increase of student participation in programs directed by UK faculty members. Efforts to increase minority student participation and other underrepresented populations are also succeeding, as  17.1 percent of education abroad participants self-reported as being first generation students.

Visit the Education Abroad website here.

Living Learning Program Expansion. We know that our Living Learning Programs provide a deep sense of meaning and purpose for our students' educational experience. That's why we are rapidly expanding these programs. In a single year, we will more than double the number of students living in LLPs. In the fall of 2013, 960 students participated in 13 LLPs; this coming fall we are planning for 2,115 students in 17 LLP’s. We are projecting that 3,231 students will participate in fall 2015, 4,200 in fall 2016 and 4,577 in fall 2017. 

The Living Learning Program Task Force, co-chaired by two of our deans, Ike Adams and Dan O’Hair, began in the fall 2013 and worked diligently throughout to examine the Living Learning Program landscape on our campus, and investigate best practices from well-established and highly regarded LLPs at other campuses. These recommendations can be found in the here in the Task Force's final report.

The Honors Program. The progress taking place within our UK Honors Program is very exciting. With over 3,200 applications and an average ACT of 32 among admitted students, the Honors Program enjoyed a third year of record-breaking numbers. This Fall we expect 480 students in the entering Honors cohort, a figure that more than double the size of the incoming class from just three years ago. Learn more here.

MOOCs. This year further expanded opportunities for current and incoming students to prepare for university-level classes. Through a partnership with Coursera, a leading educational technology company, we offered a free online Advanced Chemistry course, taught by UK chemistry professors Alison Soult and Kim Woodrum. We were very pleased to see that 13,603 students enrolled, and we look forward to continuing to offer opportunities for current and incoming students through this partnership. More information can be found here.

This is just a sampling of the numerous accomplishments and activities that are occurring on our campus. I'm reminded daily of how wonderful it is to work at a place so full of talented people; at UK, we are deeply committed to having a positive impact on our student’s lives - making our campus and our Commonwealth even better. Thank you for making this first year so special.

All the best,


Leadership Kentucky: Touching Every Corner of the Commonwealth

Mon, 07/21/2014 - 11:36

Tuesday July 22, 2014

This year, I’ve been honored to participate in the Leadership Kentucky program.

It’s a six-month program in which educational, civic, business and political leaders come together for two days each month in a different region of our Commonwealth.

We seek a deeper understanding of our state: both its incredible promise and its challenge. We also are afforded the opportunity meet and hear from some of Kentucky’s brightest leaders about how they are working to create a more promising future.

I’ve spent two days with more than 40 leaders at Jabez, a facility UK’s extension service operates more than two hours southeast of here. Together, we discussed issues. We explored our state’s history. And we engaged in team-building exercises, designed to help us learn more about each other and to understand more fully how challenging it is to work together. 

Yesterday and today, I am attending the Kentucky Chamber Business Summit and Annual Meeting in Louisville. As the theme of the summit is "the Future of Kentucky," sessions include topics such as Kentucky’s path to economic and workforce competitiveness, the future of the nine economic regions in Kentucky, and national and Kentucky politics, among many other interesting topics. I have really enjoyed these two days talking about the issues facing our Commonwealth and our future plans.

One thing already stands out to me. I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation for our community — the University of Kentucky. It is so evident that we touch and reach every corner of the Commonwealth. Our impact is profound. The respect for our institution and the work of our students, faculty and staff is immeasurable.

We are making Kentucky a better place. I’m so honored to learn from these bright leaders; I’m excited about the future of our state. And I’m always gratified to learn more about our impact because of the work we do together.

All the best,


Reflecting on the Success of our Students

Mon, 07/14/2014 - 11:12

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

One of my favorite things about summer is the opportunity it affords to take a brief step back to reflect on the progress we are making, together, in so many different areas.

This summer we have followed our students' blogs about their adventures abroad, celebrated large and meaningful research grants and read about faculty members' work in national media publications. These accomplishments, -- just a few examples of all that is happening on our campus -- highlight the indispensable role our institution plays in our state and nation.

Nelson Mandela said that "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." With that powerful imperative in mind, I like to reflect on the compelling examples taking place across our campus of how the members of the UK family, particularly our students, are doing just that: changing the world.

Last week, we recognized several students who received a variety of prestigious scholarships, internships and fellowships acknowledging their excellence in the classroom, in research and in extracurricular activities. In the 2013-14 school year alone, UK students earned 11 more national awards than the previous year, including a prized Truman Scholarship and two Goldwater Scholarships.

The awards are meaningful in and of themselves.

But what they signify is even more important.

For example, I had the opportunity and honor earlier this year to meet Grace Trimble at a UK Board of Trustees meeting. Grace is a political science junior and UK Women's Tennis Team member who received the prestigious Truman Scholarship; these awards recognize outstanding leadership and devotion to public service. She was among the 59 scholars nationwide selected by the Truman Foundation from 655 candidates.

As a teenager, Grace began a nonprofit organization, Lexington Tennis Club Smart Shots. Throughout her time at UK studying politics, nonprofits and public service, she used her undergraduate research experience to design and implement a survey gauging the effectiveness of her organization.

Grace's passion and devotion to serving others exemplifies how seeing blue empowers individuals to make tangible differences in the world.

Grace is not alone in this pursuit; 35 students received major nationally competitive honors this school year. Two students, Matthew Fahrbach, of Louisville, Ky., and Samuel Saarinen, of Shelbyville, Ky., received Goldwater Scholarships. Three UK students received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards, and 12 undergraduate students were selected to participate in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program. They will travel across the country to conduct research in fields ranging from political science to engineering.

In receiving these awards, these students are already using their gifts to push the boundaries of discovery and make a difference in their communities.

I'm very proud. But none of us are satisfied.

I know we all can't wait to see how these remarkable students continue to change the world and what we, as an institution, can accomplish together next year. 

All the best,


Research Blending the Humanities and Technology

Sun, 07/06/2014 - 08:51

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The campus may seem a bit quieter this summer, but the work of our faculty -- here and around the globe is continuing in fascinating -- and pathbreaking -- ways.

In fact, one of the things that makes UK special is the way that our researchers push the boundaries of discovery through collaborative, multidisciplinary projects every day. And that work by our faculty is meaningful, too, for our students.

As one of only eight institutions in the country with the full range of academic, professional and health care programs on one campus, UK offers distinctive opportunities for students to customize their education in ways that help them compete in a global economy.

This past week, many of you may have read of the work of William Endres, a researcher working across, and blending, disciplines in compelling ways.

Endres is an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies. His digital humanities project focuses on digitizing early medieval manuscripts.

Because of his efforts, ancient texts -- at risk of being lost -- are being made available to scholars worldwide, without compromising conservatory efforts necessary for preservation.

In 2010, Endres created a 3D digital copy of the medieval St. Chad Gospel. He will return to England this summer to continue his project.

The Herald-Leader featured Endres' work earlier this week. You can find that here:

I also encourage you to listen to this podcast by Endres and watch a video that explains the process of 3-D rendering.

His work is another example, among many, if the extraordinary work happening at UK every day across disciplines. Such work is the future of research and of education. At UK, we are at the leading edge of many of those efforts.

All the best,


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