Campus News

UK’s Quality Enhancement Plan, TEK, plays pivotal role in advancing Kentucky

Video produced by UK Public Relations and Strategic Communications and Marketing and Brand Strategy. To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (March 20, 2023) — A new campus initiative, “Transdisciplinary Educational approaches to advance Kentucky,” or TEK, will build upon University of Kentucky’s existing efforts to advance Kentucky, by putting students first. 

TEK is a collaborative effort — involving students, staff, faculty, alumni and community members — to support UK students’ success. It serves as the institution’s Quality Enhancement Plan, or QEP, which is a key part of UK’s reaffirmation of accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (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 — signifies the university is meeting the highest standards of excellence for academic rigor, ethical practices and administrative processes. Accreditation is necessary for UK to receive federal funds, including financial assistance provided by the federal government in support of sponsored projects for research and other scholarly activities, and is a requirement for financial aid funding that supports students and families. The university seeks reaffirmation every 10 years. 

This week, a committee of SACSCOC reviewers will visit the UK campus to ensure the university meets standards established by the higher education community and evaluate the university’s QEP. As a part of this visit, the UK QEP team will share how TEK fulfills UK’s commitment to students.

It is a commitment that, according to UK Provost Robert S. DiPaola, reflects the institution’s mission and vision. 

“At the University of Kentucky, we are focused on addressing society’s most complex problems through research, education, service and care,” DiPaola said. “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 inspiration for TEK arose from the idea that researchers often work across and among disciplines and fields — what are called multidisciplinary approaches — to ask and answer big questions. In such an approach, people 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.  

It involves coming together early by first identifying key questions and utilizing a shared conceptual framework to create new approaches that address a common problem. 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 — students, faculty and staff — 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 student success and to existing Kentucky challenges. 

Through TEK, students will work with experts from disciplines across the institution and community — in areas such as business, humanities, math and natural science — to solve Kentucky’s biggest problems while gaining essential employability skills.  

The process of developing the QEP has, true to the spirit of the initiative, been collaborative and robust. 

A leadership team conducted a listening tour across campus seeking potential ideas for a QEP in the 2021-22 academic year. The team collected more than 200 ideas. Based on an analysis of how the ideas aligned with UK's strategic plan, the team presented five potential topics to UK President Eli Capilouto. The president shared the potential topics with the campus community and requested input via a community survey and meetings with faculty leadership. 

Based on this community input, TEK was selected as the best avenue for UK's ongoing efforts to support student success, according to DiPaola.

“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,” 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, staff and community. 

This is a photo taken outside on UK's campus of two students working and talking.
This is a photo of students working and talking together in a building on UK's 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.