Campus News

UK receives APLU International Impact Award for Global Engagement

Eric Monday, UK executive vice president for finance and administration and co-executive vice president for health affairs, and Sue Roberts, associate provost for internationalization, accept the award from the APLU on behalf of UK in Seattle on Nov. 14.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2023) — In recognition of its commitment to furthering internationalization on campus and fostering a more diverse campus community, the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU) has named the University of Kentucky the 2023 winner of the APLU International Impact Award for Global Engagement. The award was accepted on behalf of the university by Executive Vice President for Finance and Administration Eric Monday, Ph.D., at the annual meeting of the APLU’s awards ceremony. 

This award recognizes an APLU member institution that demonstrates a high degree of global engagement on their campus, in their community and/or with international partners. This could include meaningful international collaborations, engagement with migrant, immigrant and/or international communities, and institutional commitment to developing sustained global engagement. 

“Our campus is committed to global engagement because we know the impact it has on our students,” said Associate Provost for Internationalization Sue Roberts. “Globally knowledgeable and engaged students are better prepared to contribute to their communities’ economic and social vitality, and they are ready to tackle even the world’s most intractable problems. In addition, fostering a more globally-aware and inclusive diverse community here at UK, has far-reaching effects on all our students and everyone here at the university.” 

The award specifically recognizes UK’s work on two key initiatives: the Shoulder to Shoulder Global (STSG) program and the university’s work with refugee students. 

Shoulder to Shoulder Global, a program implemented by the office of Global Health Initiatives in the University of Kentucky International Center, works with academic and community partners to improve the health and well-being of an underserved community in Santo Domingo, Ecuador. The heart of the partnership is transformative inter-professional experiential learning opportunities for students, staff, faculty and community members. These take place through a partnership with the Centro de Salud Hombro a Hombro clinical facility. Since 2007, this partnership has grown to encompass the core missions of education, service, and research and has seen participation from all of UK’s academic colleges. Over the last 16 years, more than 1,300 students, staff, faculty and community members have participated in Shoulder to Shoulder’s programs in Ecuador. In that time, more than 40,000 patients in Ecuador have received medical consultations from participants. 

The award also acknowledges UK’s work with refugee students, helping displaced students finish their education at the University of Kentucky. 

In August 2022, the Kentucky General Assembly appropriated funds to provide college access and promote undergraduate student success for displaced students through a program called the Kentucky Innovative Scholarship Pilot Project. Additional funding was also provided by the Qatar Scholarship for Afghan Project, administered by the Institute of International Education (IIE) here in the U.S. 

The strategic goals of the program are: to better serve refugee populations by providing access to education at a U.S. public research university; to coordinate with on-campus units and off-campus organizations to coordinate financial support for refugee and displaced students through to completion of their degrees; and to develop support networks for newly arrived refugee students to ensure academic success, well-being and social inclusion. 

There are currently 28 students enrolled at UK in this program, most of whom are young people from Afghanistan who had been students at the American University in Kabul in August 2021 when the U.S. withdrew its forces, and the Taliban took control. They were among 250 students who were airlifted out of Kabul and exiled in other countries where they were temporarily enrolled in the respective American Universities. UK worked with IIE to evaluate and admit several of the 250 students. In January 2023, 16 of these students arrived in the U.S., and came to Lexington. They are each enrolled as transfer students and are taking a full course load as they work toward completing their interrupted degrees. 

“These initiatives have not only shown UK’s commitment to global engagement, they have also highlighted the importance of collaboration across campus,” said Roberts. “The tremendous success of these programs would not be possible without partners at UK in several areas, all working to further internationalize our campus, helping create transformational experiences for our students and promoting a more diverse community at UK.” 

To learn more about the APLU Awards, visit the website

About the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities 

APLU is a research, policy and advocacy organization dedicated to strengthening and advancing the work of public universities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. With a membership of more than 250 public research universities, land-grant institutions, state university systems and affiliated organizations, APLU’s agenda is built on the three pillars of increasing degree completion and academic success, advancing scientific research and expanding engagement. 

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.