Campus News

Kenney named dean of the Graduate School and associate provost for graduate and professional education

Padraic Kenney

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 24, 2023) — Padraic Kenney, an internationally prominent historian and researcher, has been named the dean of The Graduate School and associate provost for graduate and professional education at UK. He will begin in this role full-time on Oct. 1, 2023.  

Kenney currently serves as the associate dean for graduate education and for the social and historical sciences at Indiana University (IU) in Bloomington, Indiana. Kenney began his role as associate dean at the IU College of Arts and Sciences in 2019 after more than a decade of teaching, researching and leading in various professor, chair and director roles.  

His experiences include leading the Department of International Studies, the Polish Studies Center, the Russian and East European Institute and the Collins Living-Learning Center at IU. He also served as the president of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies. Before joining IU faculty, Kenney served as a professor of history at the University of Colorado, Boulder. 

Kenney earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan, his Master of Arts from the University of Toronto and his Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College. He also completed coursework at Pushkin Russian Language Institute in Moscow.  

“Dr. Kenney has dedicated his career to understanding the challenges, experiences and histories of millions of people during such a pivotal time in modern history,” said Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “His expertise and commitment to education, research and service will allow him to serve our community well, especially our graduate students.”  

His research focuses on the dynamics of communist societies, especially Poland, and throughout history, particularly during the fall of communism and eastern Europe’s transition out of communism. According to Kenney’s biography, he is primarily interested in understanding “how groups of people and individuals without power manage, survive, resist and protest in hostile environments.”  

“I am honored and excited to join the University of Kentucky,” said Kenney. “Its commitment to students, research and the Commonwealth distinguish UK, and I look forward to working to advance and support graduate students and faculty. Central and eastern Kentucky are part of the fabric of my family’s history, so coming to Lexington feels like coming home.” 

In 2020, IU awarded Kenney the Indiana University Bicentennial Medal “for distinguished and distinctive service.” Kenney replaces Martha Peterson who has served diligently as acting dean of The Graduate School and associate provost for graduate and professional education since 2021. 

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.