Campus News

UK Celebrates 15th Anniversary of Founding of UK Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence

Current Chellgren fellows.
Current Chellgren Fellows.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 8, 2021) — University of Kentucky students, alumni, faculty, administrators and friends gathered recently at the Chase Tower to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the founding of the UK Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence. Alumni from nine classes of the student fellowship program were in attendance at the dinner.

The Chellgren Center has facilitated the growth of over 508 students throughout its 15 year history, including 31 students currently enrolled in the sophomore program. Many alumni of this program pursue education beyond an undergraduate degree, with approximately 100 former student fellows currently enrolled in graduate or professional studies.

“When I first became part of the Chellgren Student Fellows program in the fall of 2016, I had no concept of how important research was or would become for my career. Because the Chellgren Center not only required new fellows to begin an undergraduate research experience as part of the program, but equipped us and guided us to do so, I was enabled to approach Dr. Warren Alilain to discuss joining his lab,” recalls Aaron Silverstein, a member of the 10th class of fellows. “I stayed in the Alilain laboratory for the remainder of my undergraduate training, and now as an M.D./Ph.D. student completing my graduate thesis under Dr. Alilain’s eminent mentorship, I credit the Chellgren Center for giving me the tools and motivation to initially seek out the research opportunities which have allowed me to achieve my goals.”

Special guests at the celebration included Mr. and Mrs. Paul W. Chellgren, the benefactors whose continued support created the center along with a culture of enrichment in students’ lives. As a student in the UK Honors Program, Paul Chellgren was the president of the student body his senior year before earning a Harvard MBA and a D.D.E. from Oxford University. In 2014, Chellgren was also awarded an honorary doctorate from UK.

“In celebrating the 15th year of the Chellgren Center, the University of Kentucky publicly recognizes its deep gratitude to Mr. Paul Chellgren for enabling our students to realize the enduring benefits of undergraduate excellence,” said Philipp Kraemer, the Chellgren Chair for Undergraduate Excellence. “By supporting new opportunities for students to learn and for faculty to develop creative new ways of teaching, the Chellgren Center has become known as a force for educational innovation.”

The Chellgren Center today takes a leadership role in advocating for undergraduate excellence, educational innovation and community service. The center currently supports an endowed chair, five endowed professors and several faculty fellows. This support enables faculty to pursue various research aspirations and adds to the environment of creativity and innovation that Paul Chellgren has developed. In addition to the Chellgren Student Fellows, the center also oversees student membership in the prestigious national academic honors societies of Alpha Lambda Delta, Omicron Delta Kappa, Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Kappa Phi.

The Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence is housed within the Office of the Provost. To learn more about the Chellgren Center for Undergraduate Excellence, please visit

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.