Campus News

How UK Cared for the Commonwealth and Beyond in 2020

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Jan. 5, 2021) — One way to look at the Fall 2020 semester at the University of Kentucky is by the numbers. 

After all, they paint a compelling picture as we:

  • Conducted nearly 50,000 COVID-19 tests among members of our campus community. 
  • Implemented, through a more than 50-member UK Health Corps team, tracing among some 6,300 individual contacts and daily screening among our entire campus community.
  • Developed plans — from 19 work streams comprising some 500 UK community members — to ensure classrooms and facilities were safe … moved nearly 10,000 pieces of furniture out of campus facilities to allow space for physical distancing … installed almost 30,000 signs inside and outside to encourage healthy behaviors … a provided wellness kits to every student on our campus.
  • Distributed nearly $9 million in federal relief funds — CARES money — to students who needed assistance.
  • Opened a 400-bed field hospital in two weeks to prepare for a surge in COVID-19 patients.
  • Provided thousands of free coronavirus tests to people throughout Lexington and the region at two community sites UK established. 
  • Helped test thousands of people in a phase III clinical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Invested resources to ensure that 90% of classrooms across campus had upgrades to technology that made it easier for faculty and students to teach and learn.

But more than the numbers was the question, the question we asked of ourselves — and that drove everything we did — every day:

Did we care? 

Did we show that as a community we cared — about our students who completely changed how they learned and lived … about our faculty and staff who balanced the stress and strain of work and life … about all those we serve across the Commonwealth, who asked us to continue our efforts to help and heal in every community and county in Kentucky?

Did we care?

We found thousands of ways, each day and throughout the semester, to answer that question. Our faculty adjusted their methods of teaching, mentoring and researching. Our staff found new ways to support students and continue our crucial operations.

Together we are meeting this moment — as a community and as the Commonwealth’s University … the University of, for and with Kentucky.



This is a photo from an Engineering Lab.
This is a photo from a classroom at the University of Kentucky.
This is a photo from the medical campus at the University of Kentucky.
A photo from February 2020 from a UK College of Pharmacy lab.

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion four years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for five straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.