In February, I shared with the campus the details of an important conversation underway and invited the UK community to participate in shaping our shared future. We also provided to our Board of Trustees an update at their February meeting.
This process began with an open dialogue with the Dean’s Council last fall, when we asked them to identify future funding needs. As we moved forward, five collaborative teams identified 34 concepts to generate recurring revenue, net savings, and/or new opportunities.
Collectively, to secure a promising future for our campus community; teach and prepare students for a world that will be different in ways we do not yet know; empower faculty to create, discover, and innovate; and continue serving Kentucky families and communities, we identified a $200 million gap over the next five years that represents the divide between anticipated resources and the cost of continuing our work toward achieving our goals. We undertake this work in light of reductions in state funding and other disruptions to our work.
Substantial increases in the tuition our students and families pay is not the answer. We must, as a campus community working together, develop long-term solutions now.
To that end, groups of faculty, staff, and students have prioritized eight concepts for Phase 1, and they are developing detailed business plans for implementation. Each concept reflects the rich feedback we have received from the campus community over the last month.
Complementing those efforts, since launching the “Our Path Forward” initiative, the concept teams have received more than 120 suggestions and comments from the campus. We received ideas for how to generate new revenue, reduce operating expenditures, and create more efficient operations. Included in the feedback are recommendations to:
- Improve efficient energy utilization and reduce utility costs;
- Structure procurement processes to leverage better deals for purchasing;
- Expand online and summer course enrollment opportunities;
- Identify opportunities for streamlining the academic program approval process to encourage faculty innovation; and
- Improve recruitment and retention of high-quality undergraduate students from Kentucky and strategic out-of-state markets.
The feedback we have received thus far illustrates two important ideas:
- Your participation in this process is fundamental to our success; and
- The campus community has creative solutions for how we can better direct our future.
This feedback represents only a small collection of the comments we received, and the concept teams will continue reviewing feedback as we move throughout this process. Some of those ideas will be included in future implementation phases throughout the five-year initiative.
It has been – and will continue to be – critical to our success together.