Campus News

Just the beginning: See how 'Kentucky Can' helps UK attract and retain faculty, build infrastructure

'Kentucky Can' helps UK attract and retain the finest faculty and establish state-of-the-art facilities and programs.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 1, 2023) — In October, the University of Kentucky celebrated the achievement of the $2.1 billion goal for Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign — the largest fundraising campaign in the Commonwealth’s history. The comprehensive campaign focused on raising support to fuel all parts of the institution’s mission: education, research, service and care. 

Last month, UKNow highlighted one of the campaign’s key impact areas — student success and access. Today, we are reflecting on the campaign’s impact in the area of stability and prestige. By attracting and retaining the finest faculty and establishing state-of-the-art facilities and programs, Kentucky Can has enhanced the university’s academic standing and overall campus experiences.

Watch the video above to learn more.

Faculty endowments

Kentucky Can has raised more than $559 million to support faculty endowments and academic programs, which are critical to students’ experiences while earning their degrees.

“We want to make sure our students get the absolute best education to go out in a complex world, and (it’s key) that we have the very best instructors, that we recruit the very best instructors and that we retain them as well,” said Robert DiPaola, UK provost and co-executive vice president for health affairs, in the video above.

The campaign was also designed to inspire collaboration among academic colleges and disciplines. This transdisciplinary approach to education, research and service is central to both the campaign and the university’s mission of advancing Kentucky. This is evident through UK’s health care enterprise, where the university's world-class faculty and researchers are helping treat more patients, ensuring clinical excellence and providing advanced, sub-specialty care to the Commonwealth. 

Campus infrastructure

Additionally, more than $4 billion has been invested in infrastructure across the campus — including more than 8 million square feet of new and renovated construction. Philanthropic support has significantly helped UK in taking creative approaches to make these infrastructure improvements over the last several years, holding down costs and increasing access.  

These investments — made both in the physical transformation of campus and in endowments for named colleges, departments and professorships (including the historic gifts announced this year to the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment and the Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering) — further drive UK in attracting, retaining and graduating more students.  

And it’s just the beginning. With state and community support, UK is planning for the construction of even more facilities, including a $380 million Health Education Building, which is scheduled to be completed in 2027.  

These investments continue to set the foundation for UK’s students, faculty and staff to achieve greatly. 

“When we think about the infrastructure needs of the university (and) about how that combines with what we need to recruit, retain and graduate students, philanthropy is a huge component of our success,” said Eric Monday, UK executive vice president for finance and administration and co-executive vice president for health affairs, in the video above. “Philanthropy has played a giant role in building the best environment for our student success, our faculty success and our staff success.”

A new chapter 

While the October celebration marked the conclusion of the Kentucky Can campaign, it marked the beginning of a new chapter. 

“When we embarked on this campaign, we recognized with both humility and fortitude that these efforts would help write the next chapter for this university and the communities it uplifts,” said UK President Eli Capilouto. “That is our north star — to advance Kentucky. This campaign fuels those efforts; it always has been about empowering the incredible talent and impassioned hearts on our campus, so determined and equipped to build a better future for the Commonwealth.”   

“Kentucky is welcoming incredible economic opportunity and billions in investments,” said Jake Lemon, vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement. “But to continue that pipeline of opportunity, our state must significantly increase its skilled and educated workforce. We will continue to focus our efforts on providing scholarships that open doors of opportunity and that change trajectories of success for even more students, their families and their communities.” 

Learn more about the impact of the campaign and UK Philanthropy at

Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.