It is an exciting time of the year as campus comes to life with the return of our student body. A new cohort of first-year students is arriving on campus, ready to join tens of thousands of Wildcats for the new academic year.
They are arriving amid growing enthusiasm across the campus.
We opened new residence halls on the north end of campus, and named them in honor of the important women who shaped the University of Kentucky into the institution of higher learning it is today. Women like Holmes, Boyd, Jewell, and Blazer – all deeply committed to the student success. We also renamed Central Hall II for one of our early presidents, Herman Donovan.
New classrooms will be occupied for the first time this semester as we open the Academic Science Building and the final phase of the Gatton College of Business and Economics. Both represent the best in classroom technology and 21st century learning to support our students, faculty, and staff.
At the same time, our research enterprise is growing more diverse in its approach to answering the relevant questions of our day. Creative scholarship is alive across campus as faculty and staff create masterful works of art, music, and performance.
Extension agents, spread across all 120 counties in Kentucky, continue to work in communities, supporting farmers, families, and small businesses.
Our health care practitioners are serving more patients in need of sophisticated health care. Their vision is to provide quality care for all Kentucky families, so they do not need to leave the Commonwealth. More and more, our physicians, nurses, technicians, and care providers are fulfilling that vision.
As returning students migrate back to campus for a new academic year, many are taking their time to offer advice to new Wildcats.
Their advice is a rich collection of tips and tricks to succeed during your first year and beyond at the University of Kentucky. Their wisdom reminds us that the responsibility for student success is shared by the entire campus.
It’s who we are. It’s why we are here.
This reality underscores the important sense of community on our campus. We are focusing on fundamental pillars of student success to fulfill the ambitious goals outlined in our Strategic Plan:
The first is academic success, which is why we are investing in our faculty resources and better aligning student support services like advising and tutoring.
But success in the classroom isn’t the only pillar necessary for you to flourish at this university and beyond.
The second is financial stability, which is why we are investing more in scholarships and financial aid that students don't need to repay.
The third is wellness, in all the ways you might define it. We are investing in the tools and people that comprise the Counseling Center, campus police, financial awareness, student health, and personal violence intervention.
We are laying the groundwork for you to earn a college degree that will help you make a living. But more than that, it will help you build a life.
That is why our fourth pillar of student success is "belonging."
Our new students share the unfamiliarity of this college transition. This semester, they will walk to class with personal identities, uncertainties, and anxieties that stem from their experiences.
For many of them, our campus of more than 45,000 students, faculty, and staff is bigger than their hometown. They might find themselves in a classroom with more students than their graduating high school class.
As a collective campus community, we build belonging by finding the courage to listen to others, to step outside our comfort zone, to intervene when someone is in danger, and to be altered by exploring the uniqueness of others.
It’s the compassion to be empathetic as others find difficulty in navigating the unfamiliar. The capacity to do so is not exclusive to certain people with certain stories in certain majors, or at certain points in their life; it is universal.
Empathy and compassion are inextricably linked to a sense of true belonging.
Always remember that while we build community, others around us may still be struggling with isolation. Reach out to them. Help them build a new foundation. We will all be stronger and better for it. It’s how we build community at the University of Kentucky, and ensure the success of all our people.
Welcome back and good luck.