President Capilouto provided the following remarks to the Board of Trustees at its June 2022 meeting.
COVID challenged so much, but it never derailed or delayed our ambitions or aspirations. Our people persevered at every turn. They balanced work and life, demands and responsibilities, while making hope and healing, learning and progress, possible. On your behalf, I want to deeply thank them for all they have done and for their continued commitment to our work together.
Our goal then, as now, is to advance Kentucky in everything we do. This budget, then, is an expression of our values and our ambitions.
It is a demonstration of faith that we are poised and positioned to advance our state at a time when it needs us most.
And as such, I hope it says to you that we are investing heavily and thoughtfully in what will most directly advance Kentucky – our students and our people, the research and discovery that can transform lives and the care and service we provide in every corner and community of this state.
You, as a board, have helped make this budget – and that sense of momentum – possible over the last year. You were engaged in the development of a new strategic plan, which you endorsed in October, and which clearly articulates the principles that are most important to us and so critical to supporting Kentucky. Your feedback and your passion for this place made our plan better and stronger.
And the commitments of that plan – the UK PURPOSE – are imprinted on every page of the budget before you – the largest in our history and more than double what it was 10 years ago. It represents a historic investment of resources by policymakers and the people of Kentucky in the work we do – investments directly aligned with the state’s priorities for us:
Infrastructure that will enable us to produce more doctors and nurses … physical therapists and public health professionals …
Buildings that will empower more teaching and learning that will give students the knowledge and capacity they need for success and to lead lives of meaning and purpose …
Support for more students coming through our doors … walking across a commencement stage … preparing to enter a workforce more dependent than ever before on advanced skills and nimble minds.
This budget and the direction you have set for us also underscore something that makes us distinctive and essential – the idea that our doors must be open widest to those who can accomplish what is wildly possible, if only given a chance. We could take a path often forged in higher education – smaller and more elite. We could constrain our numbers to raise our profile. With your leadership, and with Kentucky’s needs foremost in our minds, we have chosen a different path.
We will grow.
We will make it possible for more young people, particularly Kentuckians, to join our community and learn with this incredible faculty. That’s why our proposed tuition and mandatory fee increases over the last four years will now be 1.6 percent – a more than threefold decrease from only a decade ago. More than 90 percent of our full-time Kentucky undergraduates receive financial aid that doesn’t have to be repaid and those who come from families with the most need – roughly a quarter of our students -- are provided the most assistance. And yet, we are on the verge of another historic high in both four-year and six-year graduation rates – what will be a six-year trajectory of continued increases in student success.
So, we will welcome the largest first-year class in our history – approximately 6,000 students – as part of a sustained effort to grow because Kentucky needs us to do so.
Kentucky right now is garnering incredible economic opportunity and billions in investments. But to continue that pipeline of opportunity, our state must significantly increase its skilled and educated workforce.
We also will be more diverse and welcome more young people from across the country. Yes, our world at times seems so divided. That’s why this place must lean in to being a community that welcomes everyone … we must be a place that champions and encourages a free exchange of ideas so central to a vibrant community of students and scholars.
It is the same ethos – to grow for Kentucky and to advance Kentucky – that pervades everything we do.
Hospital revenues will have grown by more than 200 percent in the last decade, reflecting the fact that we are treating and healing thousands more patients each year than ever before. We will again exceed $400 million in annual grants and contracts for our research efforts -- efforts focused on the state’s most vexing challenges, cancer and heart disease, deaths from opioid misuse, satisfying our energy needs in a sustainable manner and seeking answers to historic and systemic issues around race and access. And we will serve – in every county of Kentucky, rebuilding farms and research facilities in Western Kentucky and rebuilding lives and communities decimated by disease across our state.
Because where there is a need in Kentucky, there is us.
There is UK.
There is a palpable sense of momentum fueling our work. But momentum is not inevitable. Progress is not a promise. It can be fragile.
It must be nurtured, which is why we are investing more in our people through consistent increases in compensation and an expansion of health care benefits, while holding down costs. In the coming year, we need you to continue to hold us accountable for honoring the promise of this place.
Guided by the principles and the plan you helped us create, and the example we set together, we will advance Kentucky.