Starting Off the Semester with a Focus on Student Success

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017

Today, the first day of the spring 2017 semester, our campus seems to come back to life, as students once again gather in our classrooms, enliven our residence halls and navigate our campus.  

Each of them carries his or her own story—his or her own archive of aspirations reached, and those left to attain. So, as we begin our next semester together, know that we are glad you chose the University of Kentucky as the place to write the next chapter in your story.

As a UK family, we have a responsibility to you as students to make this a worthwhile experience, and to prepare you, as President Capilouto often says, “for a life of meaning and purpose.”

You’ve taken the first important step toward this ambition. Our responsibility is to help you reach your goal: to equip you with the skills to write more stirring chapters in your future. In doing so, we are focusing more intently than ever on student success, particularly on four fundamental pillars: 

The first is academic success. We are investing in our faculty resources and better aligning student support services like advising and tutoring.

But, as you know, success inside the classroom isn’t the only pillar necessary for you to flourish at this university and beyond. Success is rooted beyond the classroom as well.

That’s why the second pillar is financial stability. We are investing more in scholarships and financial aid that students don't need to repay. Our UK LEADS (Leveraging Economic Accessibility for Developing Success) initiative refocuses institutional aid in a way that better addresses unmet financial need.

In return, we ask you to become more financially knowledgeable as part of your success here and beyond UK. Student services such as MoneyCATS and the financial wellness center are expanding their services to help you enhance your financial knowledge and literacy.

To further help in that effort, our third pillar focuses on wellness, in all the ways you might conceptualize it. We are investing in the tools and people that comprise the Counseling Center, campus police, student health, campus recreation and personal violence intervention, among others.

Again, you a have responsibility to yourself and others. If you see someone in need, or who might be a victim of personal violence, I hope you will find the courage to speak up and intervene. 

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. This is why our fourth pillar of student success is belonging.

For you to truly succeed, you must not only understand your unique story, but the story and perspectives that members of the UK family bring with them to our campus. Resources such as the Martin Luther King Center and the Office for Institutional Diversity help us in doing so, in hopes that we might be a campus where everyone feels a sense of belonging.

This semester, you will walk to class with personal identities, uncertainties, and anxieties that stem from your story. We build belonging by finding the courage to listen to others, to step outside our comfort zones, to intervene when someone is in danger, and to be altered by exploring the uniqueness of others.

I hope you recognize and show compassion as others find difficulty in navigating the unfamiliar.

It builds a stronger you. It builds a community. And the capacity to do so is not exclusive to certain people with certain stories in certain majors, or at certain points in their life; they are universal. 

Let us all remember these values as we begin a new semester together.

As importantly, I hope you remember that at the University of Kentucky, student success is at the center of everything we do. Resources are available, across these pillars and across our campus, to support you in your academic journey.

Have a great semester.


Timothy S. Tracy