UK's Academic Community

Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017

We are officially one week into the fall semester. This is one of my favorite weeks of the year.

We’ve had the opportunity to welcome our students—from all different backgrounds and perspectives, from more than 100 countries and all 50 states—to our campus.

And now, as they’ve begun to settle into their residence halls and attend their classes, we can see new pockets of community beginning to take shape, enriching our UK community as a whole.

Last weekend, I spoke at a welcoming event for students in the Lewis Honors College. I told them our hope for them—our hope for all students who come to us with boundless potential—that in their four years here, they will gain experience so that they won't just be competing for jobs. Our students will be creating jobs in professions that, in many cases, have not even been imagined yet.

Importantly, to do so they need to be lifelong learners. Our world-class faculty will help them develop these skills at UK, in whatever discipline they choose.

But, what I challenged our honors students to think about—what I challenge all students to ponder and to explore during their time here—goes beyond simple skill acquisition. Beyond, even, an academic discipline.

We have an academic community at UK that thrives at the intersection of disciplines: at the nexus of ideas which, when united, can translate into positive, life-changing impact.

Let me give you an example—one that truly hits home in Kentucky. 

According to a recent report, 1 million Kentuckians are directly impacted in some way by the scourge of drugs. We know drugs like opioids don’t discriminate by ZIP-code or neighborhood; race or ethnicity.

What can we do to address this issue?

This past year, 15 UK journalism students teamed up with students in the College of Pharmacy's Rho Chi Honor Society to produce two public service announcements regarding a life-saving tool for drug overdose, naloxone, which was developed by UK researchers.

These PSAs aired on the Lexington Public Access Channel, the UK Student News Network, local network stations, local movie theatres, and several local radio stations, in both Spanish and English.

It seems like an unlikely partnership: the union between these two fields.

But the students saw an opportunity to bring their expertise together to create a positive impact. They championed the powerful idea that brainpower, harnessed in common cause against insidious challenges, can find answers. 

That’s who we are at the University of Kentucky. Those are the values that shape our academic community.

It’s a community shaped by all members of the UK family—our faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends. It’s one that makes us distinctive as a thriving, public research institution.

It’s also a community that grew over the past week, and we have a responsibility to our newest members.

Our job as faculty, staff and administrators is to help students navigate: to find their place in this community of scholars, and to empower them to grow. That is our promise to the students who join the UK family.  

Thank you for your role in that commitment. I look forward to the progress we will make—together—this academic year.


Timothy S. Tracy