UK Strategic Plan Pursues Strengthening Ties to State Through Outreach and Community Engagement
LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 8, 2016) — The University of Kentucky is on the forefront of cutting-edge technology, scholarship, and research that reaches far beyond the boundaries of its campus and touches every county in the state. Outreach and community engagement, one of the five objectives outlined in the 2015-2020 UK Strategic Plan, is vitally important to UK's mission and motivates scholars, scientists and doctors to strive harder and go further to take what is learned in UK classrooms and laboratories to the people who will benefit the most — the citizens of Kentucky.
UK's faculty, staff, students and alumni are engaged with their local communities throughout the Commonwealth, and even around the world. The Strategic Plan calls for more outreach and community engagement efforts: "We must accelerate our efforts to enrich and improve lives in all of the communities in which we engage. Also, we must use what we learn from those we serve to inform and augment learning and research at UK."
"True engagement is about collaboration and mutually beneficial exchanges of knowledge among its partners," said Lisa Higgins-Hord, assistant vice president for community engagement. "Bringing our communities to the table with our students, faculty and staff to discover the assets of that community and how these may be used in addressing critical issues is where innovation is most likely to begin to take shape. It is imperative that we establish trust and respect between the university and community partners so our multidisciplinary and creative partnerships can construct transformative change wherever it is needed."
The strategic plan for outreach and community engagement, includes two initiatives:
- Renew our institutional commitment to promote the public good through the sustainable application of our expertise and resources to meet challenges and disparities associated with social, economic, environmental, educational, and health issues.
- Deepen student learning through community engagement.
Among the specific goals are:
- Creating a unified reporting system through a database to track engagement efforts university-wide
- Increasing opportunities for students to participate in community engagement experiences
- Creating partnerships betgween university and community stakeholders
- Increasing community-based courses taught by faculty and staff
"We are in the process of organizing a structure that supports our university engagement efforts in all its forms," Higgins-Hord said. "The critical key to doing this type of work is to first, identify and focus on our core engagement themes. This will enable us to have a systematic, comprehensive approach to ensure there is a well-planned pathway of student experiences. We also value and understand our responsibility to provide opportunities and incentives for faculty and staff to enlarge their conception of knowledge of engagement."
UK is the University for Kentucky. At UK, we are educating more students, treating more patients with complex illnesses and conducting more research and service than at any time in our 150-year history. To read more about the UK story and how you can support continued investment in your university and the Commonwealth, go to: uky.edu/uk4ky. #uky4ky #seeblue
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