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
--Diversity and Inclusivity
"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.