Campus News

Provost IMPACT Awards fund 8 projects to advance education, research, service and care

This is a photo of UK's Main Building, capture in the fall.
UK campus in the fall. Arden Barnes | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 15, 2023) — The University of Kentucky Office of the Provost has funded eight transformative projects, supporting an inaugural cohort of IMPACT Award recipients.  

The IMPACT initiative, announced in February of this year, is an internal funding program designed to support transformation across UK’s colleges. The goal is to champion the hard work occurring throughout the campus, inspire greater ingenuity across the enterprise and help community members support each other, especially with a focus on educational efforts that will create new opportunities for students.

This funding is made available by the Office of the Provost and included $600,000 in nonrecurring funds for fiscal year 2023, with plans for another round of funding ($750,000) for fiscal year 2024. 

“The purpose of this initiative is to recognize and support excellence in education, innovation, service and care,” said UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola. “As evidenced by these eight impressive projects, there is a lot to be proud of at the University of Kentucky. I am tremendously grateful for the passion, persistence and sense of purpose infused throughout this work.” 

All proposals were evaluated according to the following criteria: potential of the proposed activities to transform the college in instruction, research or professional development, or any combination thereof; alignment with the university's strategic plan; transdisciplinary nature; innovation; collaboration between/among two or more colleges; and likelihood of success of the proposed activities given the budget.

The eight projects include: 

The Wildcat Teacher Residency Program

  • The Wildcat Teacher Residency Program seeks to advance UK’s mission and strategic plan by attracting a broad and diverse range of aspiring teachers who are dedicated to providing high quality instructional experiences for K-12 learners, especially in the Central Kentucky region. The Wildcat Teacher Residency Program would create an accelerated, paid opportunity for teachers in residence to complete their Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) in 12-18 months while gaining hands-on classroom experience and earning a salary as an employee of the district. Currently, the average length of time to become a teacher through an undergraduate degree program is four years while through a current MAT program is one calendar year — both pathways do not provide for a living wage or paid internship opportunities.

Development of Curricular Partnership with HBCUs to Promote a Curriculum of Creative Social Entrepreneurship

  • In the spirit of this established partnership and UK’s values and Strategic Plan, the College of Fine Arts proposes a transformative pilot program to develop curricular partnerships with HBCUs (historically Black colleges and universities) within and outside of Kentucky which will meaningfully enhance UK's recruitment efforts and curricular offerings. The new curricular offerings will be developed in collaboration with the College of Fine Arts and Gatton College of Business and Economics. The new programs will include an undergraduate certificate in Creative Social Entrepreneurship, a graduate certificate in Creative Social Entrepreneurship, and a University Scholars partnership that will allow HBCU students to earn a Master of Arts in Arts Administration and a graduate certificate in Creative Social Entrepreneurship with one additional year of coursework.

Accelerating cultural transformation in business and engineering to support mental health

  • This project aims to use stakeholder-driven research to identify and implement mental health interventions across the Gatton College of Business and Economics and the Pigman College of Engineering at UK. The interventions will aim to accelerate transformation of the college cultures toward being more supportive of student mental health. In this way, we define mental health as more than the absence of mental illness but rather “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes (their) abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to (their) community.” Investigators include: Alexis Allen (Marketing and Supply Chain), Joseph Hammer (Counseling Psychology), and Sarah Wilson (Chemical Engineering). 

Maker’s Suite faculty startup support and acquisition of softgoods lab equipment

  • In design research and teaching, thinking-through-making and direct, hands-on material experimentation are paramount. The Maker’s Suite is one of the most public-facing features of the new Gray Design Building and the academic experience. The suite is programmed to include softgoods, assembly, 3D printing, digital learning, laser, CAD, wood, and metal labs, providing opportunities for faculty and students to work with cutting-edge technology and novel materials. The Softgoods Lab is a critical addition to the Maker's Suite and the College of Design as a whole. In the current fabrication environment, individuals do not have the ability to explore the intersection of design with soft making tools. Funding dedicated towards faculty startup support and the acquisition of softgoods lab equipment needed for the Maker’s Suite will promote forward-thinking implementation of materials to inspire and enable a new generation of students, faculty, designers and material possibilities.

Data Applications Librarian

  • A visiting faculty member in a data applications librarian position will strengthen and expand UK Libraries research data services, particularly in data refinement, analysis and visualization. This two-year position will join the growing Digital Scholarship and Data department of professionals with expertise in research data management, digital scholarship and scholarly communications. Serving all academic disciplines, the data applications librarian will be a catalyst for agile, efficient and impactful research across campus.

Faculty Exchange Program 

  • The UK College of Pharmacy will collaborate with two HBCUs/MSIs to create a two-week faculty exchange experience. The College of Pharmacy and each partner institution will send two faculty members, a basic scientist and a practitioner, to the other campus for a visiting faculty experience. The teaching, research, clinical, and DEI efforts of UKCOP and the selected institutional partners would be enhanced by the expertise presented by the faculty participants. During their two-week visit, the visiting faculty will deliver a seminar for faculty, staff, and students concerning their areas of innovation, serve as guest lecturers in graduate and professional courses, host round table discussions and mentoring for graduate and professional students, and participate in clinical activities and/or research projects based upon their unique skill sets. Due to the college's desire to serve the broader UK community, the seminars and lectures will be open to the entire campus.

The Dental Integrated Research Education and Clinical Training (DIRECT) Project

  • The objectives of this project are to: 1) develop and redesign the curriculum to increase exposure to research methodology, evidence-based practices, teaching skills and opportunities, and integrated patient care, 2) develop collaborative research mentoring and training opportunities in interdisciplinary care and clinical-translational research, and 3) develop the necessary infrastructure to enable and engage participation of students and faculty in integrated clinical care and research initiatives via cross-college transdisciplinary collaborative projects. Investigators include Luciana Shaddox (associate dean of research), Craig Miller (associate dean for faculty affairs and development), Emily Winfrey (associate dean for academic affairs). Supporting faculty include: David Sacks (educator), Mauro Santamaria (periodontist/researcher), David Devito (director of DMD clinics and Wellness Clinic), and Octavio Gonzalez (basic scientist/periodontist).

University of Kentucky Hub for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

  • The proposed project will transform the educational and research capacity of AI/ML work at UK by building a centralized hub connecting AI/ML method consumers, users, and developers. The UK Hub for AI/ML will position UK researchers well for transdisciplinary work, stemming from a leadership team of experts from three colleges — Arts and Sciences (A&S), Gatton College of Business and Economics (B&E), and Pigman College of Engineering (figure 2). The UK Hub for AI/ML will 1) spark and sustain a collaborative group that is well-positioned to pursue external funding mechanisms, 2) support a transformation of learning that addresses the skills gap in AI/ML interpretations, and 3) build an infrastructure to support AI/ML research for UK, the Commonwealth of Kentucky and beyond. 

Learn more about the Provost’s IMPACT Initiative here.

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.