Campus News

Capilouto Identifies Priorities, Framework for Enhancing Undergraduate Education

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 25, 2011) -- Focused intently on enhancing undergraduate education, University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto Tuesday put forward a framework for a multi-year campus building and renewal project, starting with a more than $30 million residence hall that is projected to open in 2013.

"The message I have received from our board and in countless conversations with the campus community and across this state is clear," Capilouto told the UK Board of Trustees during its Tuesday meeting. "The process of renewing, rebuilding and revitalizing our campus cannot wait. It is time to act. And that is what we intend to do."

A new residence hall catering to Honors students and Innovative Learning and Technology will be built on the sports field next to Haggin Hall, Capilouto told trustees. The General Assembly previously authorized residence hall construction.

Construction ideally would start in spring 2012. Last year, the university contemplated renovating existing residence halls on the north campus, but Capilouto and administrators determined that the need to start building new living and learning spaces for students should not wait.

In addition, Capilouto said a Request for Proposals (RFP) finalized this week will solicit plans from private developers for building up to 9,000 new residence hall beds over the next several years. UK currently has 5,148 residence hall beds, only 684 of which are modern. 

Capilouto said it is important for the university to evaluate all the options for moving forward as quickly as possible with new, modern residence hall beds, including private developers who can help finance construction. Other universities across the country have evaluated similar partnerships to develop residence halls.

To that end, the university has created a campus land capacity model to understand how growth and expansion of housing and other building priorities can be accommodated within current UK boundaries.

As that process moves forward, Capilouto said the campus community and neighborhoods will be engaged in dialogue to "ensure that we are working in a spirit of partnership and openness with the campus community and the neighborhoods."

Capilouto said the university also is evaluating the ability of the institution to finance construction of residence halls internally. "We have to ensure that we provide the best product for our students while also being sensitive to long-term costs and the university's debt capacity."

Other initial financial and facility planning involves:

  • Planning for $400 million to $500 million for new academic, research and student support buildings.
  • Planning for additional self-financed projects to improve and expand the infrastructure of UK HealthCare and athletics.
  • Evaluating potential funding sources, including increased philanthropy, partnerships, smart growth of the student body, continued investments by the state and improved efficiencies.

"We have much planning to do and many more conversations in which to participate," Capilouto told trustees. "We must and will be good partners with the state, with the city and neighborhoods around the campus and we will continue to include our stakeholders at UK on whose behalf we seek to undertake this process of rebuilding and renewal."

Capilouto on Tuesday also announced plans to “launch a dynamic Honors Academy in fall 2012 which will serve as a magnet for the best and the brightest high school graduates in Kentucky and beyond." In addition to providing a special honors-enhanced curriculum, the UK Honors Academy will guarantee every Honors student:

  • The opportunity to join a select cohort of UK’s best students, with all majors participating
  • Generous merit scholarships
  • Honors Living Learning Communities and priority for best residence halls
  • Dedicated academic advising
  • Preparation for leadership and external scholarships like the Rhodes, Truman, and Fulbright Scholarships
  • Interaction with faculty mentors and student peer mentors
  • Opportunity for research with world-class scholars/scientists/artists (capstone project)
  • Arts and Events Passport all four years at no cost
  • Service learning/community engagement opportunities
  • Education abroad in junior year (with a subsidy)
  • Educational flexibility that includes priority registration, access to graduate courses and waiving of prerequisites.

"As we fully develop our plans, in consultation with all of our stakeholders and the board, we will bring them forward in a transparent and accountable fashion," Capilouto said. "But we must also act with a sense of fierce urgency, if we are to undertake this renewal of the core of our campus and if we are to honor the promise of UK to the Commonwealth, which we serve."

To view a PowerPoint presentation of the president's plan, click here.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Jay Blanton, (859) 2570-6605 or 699-0041;