LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2013) – University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto and Major General Ed Tonini, Adjutant General for the Kentucky National Guard, signed a Memorandum of Understanding outlining a framework for a wide range of collaborative projects.
"The National Guard has a unique dual mission, with both federal and state assignments," Tonini said. "This partnership with the University of Kentucky will help our citizen-soldiers fulfill all their responsibilities to their fellow countrymen, whether responding to natural disasters here at home or on federal missions abroad."
While many of the specifics for collaborations are still under development, initial efforts will focus on providing guardsmen with resources in job training, behavioral health, and leadership skill development. UK will also explore the possibility of creating more flexibility in education programs that would accommodate the diverse needs of soldiers and their families. Additional collaborations are being discussed in areas such as leadership exchange, information sharing, medical research and athletics.
Capilouto hailed the partnership as a significant opportunity to strengthen each institution for the benefit of the Commonwealth.
"These initiatives will benefit both institutions, but ultimately all Kentuckians are the winners," Capilouto said. "The University of Kentucky and the National Guard each serve this state in different ways, but with notable overlap in some areas. Sharing ideas, skills and resources with one another will make both institutions stronger, smarter, and therefore more agile in delivering our services to the people of Kentucky."
As an example, Capilouto cited a new initiative that will allow Kentucky National Guard medics to shadow staff in the UK Chandler Hospital Emergency Department. This project will further refine the state's emergency preparedness skills and could be one of the first such initiatives of its kind in the country.
Dr. Roger Humphries, chair of the UK Department of Emergency Medicine, said huge potential for performance improvement exists in the shadowing project. "As the region's only Level 1 Trauma Center, our staff has a great deal of experience handling complex, life-threatening injuries," Humphries said. "This collaboration will expose guardsmen to triage and treatment of traumatic injury patients so that they are better prepared when they face these injuries on the battlefield."
Capilouto emphasized UK's tradition of partnerships with the armed forces and likened the Kentucky National Guard MOU to the master alliances the university has signed with Kentucky businesses and industries.
"Kentucky is a safer place under the support rendered by the Kentucky National Guard and the University of Kentucky is honored to bolster that mission and play a mutually beneficial role in extending the long history both institutions have in serving Kentucky," Capilouto said.