Campus News

Get to know TEK: UK’s new QEP

Learn how an important new campus initiative aims to boost employability skills and help in the university's mission

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Feb. 2, 2023) — A new campus initiative will build upon the University of Kentucky’s existing efforts to put students first. 

“Transdisciplinary Educational approaches to advance Kentucky,” or TEK, is a collaborative effort — involving staff, students, faculty, alumni and community members — to support UK students’ success. It serves as the institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, a key part of UK’s reaccreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)

Every 10 years, the university must seek reaffirmation from SACSCOC, the body that accredits UK as an institution of higher learning. That accreditation — or reaffirmation of UK’s status as a place of learning — equates to a stamp of approval that signifies the university is meeting the highest standards of excellence for academic rigor, ethical practices and administrative processes. It also is a necessary component of the institution’s continued ability to receive federal grants and contracts, central to UK’s research efforts, and funds for financial aid that help make the cost of education more affordable and accessible for students and families. 

The SACSCOC reaffirmation process will take place over the next several months, culminating in the fall of 2023 with an evaluation from accreditors. 

“At the University of Kentucky, we are focused on addressing society’s most complex problems through research, education, service and care,” said UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “Often, the most profound solutions are found at the intersection of disciplines, when talented individuals collaborate through a transdisciplinary approach. This idea is at the heart of our QEP. We aim to bring experts together, collaboratively, to help our students today and Kentucky’s workforce tomorrow.” 

The spirit of the QEP is rooted in the idea that researchers often work across and among disciplines, in what are called multidisciplinary approaches. In these frameworks, experts come together to collaborate, but only after much planning has already been done. 

A transdisciplinary approach to research, on the other hand, is more powerful. 

Such an approach involves people across disciplines coming together before questions have even been posed. A transdisciplinary approach requires a shared conceptual framework to identify questions and address common problems. And together, people from various backgrounds and with different experiences answer big questions, each bringing their informed and unique perspective. This approach is more collaborative, embraces a wide range of campus expertise — staff, students and faculty — and includes experts like alumni and other members of our community throughout every phase of a process. 

Now, with a focus on student learning, leveraging campus expertise and linking to the community, the university is applying this approach to existing Kentucky challenges to prepare students with essential workforce skills. 

TEK will provide opportunities for UK students to network with employers, learn leadership and employability skills and gain experience utilizing team-based approaches to problem-solving. 

“When we help students learn and think about the world in transdisciplinary ways, we prepare them for lives of meaning and purpose — the idea at the center of everything we do at UK,” Provost DiPaola said.  

Please visit and watch the video above to learn more about UK’s QEP — TEK — and what it means for our students, faculty and staff. 

This is a photo of students working together on a project at UK.
This is a photo of students on the University of Kentucky campus.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.