Celebrating 50 Years of UK's Human Development Institute

Photo of fall foliage on campus

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to join members of our community to celebrate 50 years of the University of Kentucky’s Human Development Institute.

Under the leadership of Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis, faculty members in the institute strive create a more equitable, prosperous future for our University, nation, and world. I was honored to join them for their celebration.

Established in 1969, the Human Development Institute exemplifies our shared commitment to creating community of belonging on this campus and communities of belonging everywhere. 

The work that our faculty are conducting within HDI underscores University of Kentucky’s role as the state’s flagship, land grant institution, with a mission to improve people's lives through excellence in education, research and creative work, service, and health care.

Because of that mission, we are the University of, for, and with Kentucky.

And, in fulfilling our role, we must continue working to improve the services and lifelong opportunities for individuals living with disabilities, as well as their families and the community at large. That’s the heart and soul of the Human Development Institute and has been for half a century.

The institute provides a strong foundation for more than 50 research, training, and service projects addressing a wide range of topics and issues. On campus, HDI works to train new leaders in the field through its University Lecture Series, Graduate Certificate in Developmental Disabilities, and Undergraduate Certificate in Universal Design, taught in collaboration with faculty across several colleges.

And this doesn’t only apply to any one, certain demographic. HDI’s mission spans across the lifespan—from infant to senior citizen – with faculty actively engaging in research, development, and model demonstration efforts that improve state-of-the-art best practices and services.

To put this in perspective, HDI began in UK’s Department of Pediatrics in 1969. Now, a half century later under the UK Office of the Vice President for Research, the institute generated more than $23 million in external funding last year. And, with approximately 235 faculty and staff, HDI impacts every county of the state, and several projects have national and even international impact.

Behind all of our achievements are the people who have the compassion and determination to get us where we are. With an unmatchable spirit and forward-thinking approach, HDI is essential in promoting independence, productivity, and inclusion for persons with disabilities.

This institute makes good on our promise to Kentucky.

The institute reminds us that, together, we have an opportunity to expand what’s possible, to come together for something greater, to give individuals the tools and support to reach their potentials. Not only for the Commonwealth, but for the broader world we serve.