jay blanton

Next Town Hall Forum on Trends in Higher Ed Set for March 26

Published: Mar 24, 2014

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 24, 2014) ― The next “see tomorrow” Town Hall forum on trends in higher education will be held from 4-5 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in Room 234 of the UK BioPharm Complex.


The forum, which will discuss the impact of major trends on the University of Kentucky, will be led by Susan Carvalho, UK’s associate provost for internationalization. The first forum on trends was held earlier this month at W.T. Young Library.


The trends report is based on extensive research conducted by the six strategic planning work groups about the state of higher education. It is not the institution’s strategic plan and does not contain recommendations. But, it is a document that the groups are using to inform their work as they craft recommendations that may ultimately be pieces of UK’s strategic plan.


President Eli Capilouto and Provost Christine Riordan released the trends report to the campus earlier this month ― http://www.uky.edu/strategic-plan/resources/research-report-trends-higher-education. The more than 100-page document discusses nine major trends confronting higher education and UK:

  • Changing Finances and Sustainability of Funding Sources: as traditional sources of support at the state and federal levels have declined, other revenues ― from tuition, private giving, among others ― have taken on more importance.
  • Redefining the Purpose of Public Higher Education: Against that backdrop of changing financial support, many in the academy ― and outside of it ― are asking tough questions about the purpose of higher education.
  • Greater Accountability: All of us in higher education are being scrutinized more closely. Do we deliver on our promises? Are we doing enough to graduate students, while minimizing the debt they incur?
  • Increased Use of Technology: Technology holds great promise ― in research, in teaching and outreach to students and those we serve. But how do we maximize its impact in a positive way, without compromising the level of quality we expect in all that we do?
  • Increased Internationalization: We live ― and our students compete ― in an increasingly complex global and interdependent economy. The numbers of international students we serve and educate have grown significantly in recent years.
  • Changing Undergraduate Population and Curriculum: Some populations of students are growing; others are declining in terms of the numbers who attend institutions of higher learning. What do those changing demographics mean for how we teach and serve and the access and affordability we offer?
  • Challenges in Graduate EducationPh.D., Master’s, and Professional Degrees: The demand for some degree programs is growing at a rapid rate; for others it is declining. How should those changing dynamics influence our strategies in providing the highest quality possible of graduate and professional programs on a campus that prides itself for its depth and breadth?
  • Changes in Research Funding: The largest source of research funding for UK and other institutions ― federal dollars ― has been flat or declining in recent years. We hope that is stabilizing and poised once again to grow. But regardless, how do we ensure that we maximize research funding and create programs and research initiatives responsive to both that funding climate and the needs of our Commonwealth?
  • The Changing Professoriate: As is true across higher education, our faculty population is aging. What strategies should we develop going forward to address the changing dynamics in ways that honor our mission of education, research and service as a flagship, land-grant institution? 


As part of the strategic planning process, a series of Town Halls are being held over the next several weeks to continue the conversation about the strategic plan and to gather campus input. A draft of the strategic plan will be released for campus review and feedback in the coming weeks. The UK Board of Trustees is expected to review the six-year plan at its June meeting.


Future forums in April will discuss drafts of the strategic plan itself as well as goals and recommendations contained in the proposed plan.


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