Campus News

Excelling Undergraduates


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 11, 2010) - To realize excellence in undergraduate education, more is required than just completing courses. A well-rounded education is achieved when students are mentored and guided through their undergraduate careers and given opportunities to shine in other areas of their academic lives. And since excellence at UK begins with its students, the University of Kentucky Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence is there to provide unique opportunities to students through their instructors that go beyond the traditional ways of succeeding in the classroom.

The Chellgren Center has been identifying and supporting talented students since 2005, and it doesn't plan on losing momentum. This is why the center is continuing to strongly encourage faculty members to seek out and support those star students who stand out in their classrooms.

The Chellgren Center, housed under the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, has a mission to advance the university in three broad areas: student excellence, teaching excellence and program excellence. The Center contributes to these goals by raising aspirations of UK students; assisting students in realizing their highest academic potential; inspiring progressive reform and innovation in teaching, learning, and curriculum development; and fostering creative and productive collaborations across the many programs, colleges, and departments engaged in UK's undergraduate mission.

The leadership of the Chellgren Center includes the endowed chair, five endowed professorships, and two Chellgren Faculty Fellows, who are former endowed professors.

Additionally, the Center is home to several campus-wide programs designed to promote and foster student excellence, including: 

Discovery Seminar Program: small seminars for first-year students that meet the University Studies Program disciplinary requirements and engage students with some of UK’s most outstanding teachers.

Intercollegiate Debate Program: home to one of the nation’s most successful intercollegiate debate teams and sponsor of prestigious debate tournaments and training workshops.

Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi: academic honor societies that foster and celebrate high academic achievement, leadership, and civic responsibility

Office of External Scholarships: identifies potential candidates for prestigious national and international scholarships and awards (e.g. Rhodes, Marshall, and Fulbright Scholarships) and assists them with preparing and submitting their applications.

Office of Undergraduate Research and Kreative Activities/eUreKa!: promotes high-quality student-faculty collaborative research and scholarship in all disciplines across the University to provide leadership and coordination for the many programs and activities that are designed to encourage and support undergraduate research.

Service Learning Initiative: designed to promote and assess service learning within the undergraduate curriculum.

Perhaps one of the most recognized programs within the Center is the Chellgren Fellows Program, a program designed for students with exceptional academic potential and aspirations, who are eager to participate in a special learning community designed to cultivate extraordinary achievement. Outstanding faculty members from across campus serve as individual mentors for the Fellows and help them develop strategies for engaging in the intellectual life of the university. 

Moving forward, the center is currently working to establish the Chellgren Academy of Teaching Excellence, a selective honorary organization that will be established this year. The purpose of this organization is to honor UK faculty who have demonstrated award-winning caliber of teaching at the undergraduate level over a sustained period. In addition to celebrating the individual accomplishments of its members, the organization symbolizes the university's commitment to extraordinary teaching.

The Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence was created in August 2005 with an initial gift of $1.5 million from alumnus Paul Chellgren and his family, with an additional gift of $250,000 in September 2006.  His total commitment of $2.25 million was matched by the state's Endowment Match Program, creating a $4.5 million endowment for the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence.

As a UK undergraduate, Chellgren was an Honors Program student and star intercollegiate debater. After earning his MBA from Harvard and a D.D.E. from Oxford University, he began a successful career that culminated with his retirement as chairman and CEO of Ashland Inc. He was inducted into UK's Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2000 and the Gatton College of Business and Economics Hall of Fame in 1995, and served on the UK Board of Trustees for 11 years. His commitment to improving and enriching undergraduate education at UK continues to impact thousands of UK students, faculty and staff.

"Undergraduate education is the engine that drives our university, and Mr. Chellgren truly understands this," said UK Provost Kumble Subbaswamy. "We are all very grateful to have a philanthropist and alumnus like Mr. Chellgren to offer his extraordinary generosity and leadership in improving undergraduate education."

For more information about the center or in mentoring a student through the Chellgren Center's program, call (859) 257-1958.