Across 700 miles and eight communities, I traveled throughout Western Kentucky last week. And I came away even more impressed and gratified by how UK is fulfilling The Kentucky Promise in new and profound ways each day.
In Hopkinsville, Paducah and Owensboro, I attended See Blue Preview Nights – our opportunity to bring every college on our campus to prospective students throughout the state. Preview Nights give our colleges and enrollment management team the chance to provide information about financial aid or scholarships and more background about innovative programs and specific degree requirements.
In each location, we met with literally hundreds of potential UK students, who represent our state’s best and brightest. Their excitement about UK and their questions only reinforced for me the unique position we hold in this state as a flagship, land-grant institution.
In Paducah, Kyle Blagg – a computer science major who recently transferred to UK – talked about how faculty and staff help create the feeling of a small, close community from a large campus. In Owensboro, Christopher Hayden – a freshman Singletary Scholar – discussed with students and parents the intellectual stimulation and challenges he receives at his new home, while also conveying the sense of excitement that only a big intercollegiate athletics program creates at public research university like UK.
In between those stops, we met with guidance counselors from across the region, who are nurturing future Wildcats. I attended several meetings with legislators, who are intensely interested in how we are striving to create more affordable access to our programs, while working to earn our way forward in building new, modern facilities that promote even deeper learning and collaboration.
We discussed with reporters and editorial boards in several communities the progress we have made in the past year and the challenges that confront us as we continue our ascent. And I spoke to alums in Henderson about how we all share in keeping The Kentucky Promise strong for another generation.
In each community, whether on a community college campus, in convention center auditorium or church gymnasium in front of a local Rotary Club, I continue to be struck by the deep affection people across our state have for this university – their University.
They are deeply invested in our success. They understand that UK is a beacon for progress.
As we begin a new academic year – one in which we are welcoming a record number of first-year students and continuing to address significant economic challenges – those I met and the gratifying stories I heard reinforce the deep sense of responsibility we have to strengthen our Promise to Kentucky each day.