A Mission of Presidential Proportion

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 20, 2010) – Educating students was the earliest mission of the University of Kentucky, and it is still the most profound way that UK can better the state, the country and the world.

But meeting that mission can be challenging. Many students can't afford a college degree, and the funds to make it through are becoming more difficult to find, but UK alumni and friends can help.

Freshman Steven Reed knew that he wanted to attend UK in third grade. His father, a disabled coal miner, and mother, a housewife, stressed the importance of education throughout his childhood.

"My family pushed me and more or less raised me to apply to college," Reed said. "But when it came down to it, I honestly didn't think I was going to be able to afford it."

Reed, a native of Inez, Ky., found financial hope in the Catalyst and Suder Scholarships at UK, along with a scholarship from WYMT and a couple of local awards as well. He found a way to make it to Lexington this fall.

Reed is just one student with one story. The President's Scholarship Initiative has as many faces as there are counties in Kentucky-- with a net that's broad, wide-ranging and all-inclusive.

The concept is simple. UK's ESPN College GameDay unveiling of the initiative in February said it all: “See Blue. Make a Difference.”

The President's Scholarship Initiative is a campus wide initiative and is focused effort on increasing scholarships at UK, including all of the university's colleges, department and programs.

“This project speaks to our commitment to the people of Kentucky,” said UK President Lee T. Todd, Jr. “As Kentucky’s flagship, land-grant university, our core mission is to provide a world-class education to students across the Commonwealth. This initiative will help us make sure the doors to this University remain open to all those who deserve the opportunity to receive a UK education.”

President Todd and First Lady Patsy Todd, as well as Coach Calipari and his wife, Ellen, helped to launch the initiative at GameDay, along with from UK alums Jim and Diane Stuckert and UK's Student Government.

"Private fundraising is the margin of excellence for any institution, and so the support that comes from individuals, alumni, friends, corporations and individual foundations is also vitally important and critical to the ongoing success of the University of Kentucky," said Vice President for Development Mike Richey.

"The President’s Scholarship Initiative is not just important for the future of the University; it is important for Kentucky’s future," Todd said. "Scholarships afford students with the greatest gift anyone can offer – the gift of opportunity. Scholarships help level the playing field for our students, providing them with the resources they need to come to UK and show they can compete with the best minds in the world, regardless of their financial situations."

UK attracts many of the state’s brightest and most gifted, but also hard-working and committed students -- students like Reed, who plans to return home this summer and spread the word about his freshman experience to his peers at Sheldon Clark High School. "I want them to look at me and say if he can do it, I can," he said.

Accessible higher education is a necessity. UK educates the leaders who will guide Kentucky and the nation into the future. Each student has a different story, but they share a common vision to make a difference in their communities and around the world.

Many can't make the journey or finish the story without some help.

"Last year, for example, almost 6,000 students who attended UK still had unmet financial need," said Richey. "Scholarships can be a major bridge in filling the gap for those with unmet needs."

UK's Office of Development will be open throughout the holidays to facilitate end of year gifts. "We're building a groundswell of support that's going to make a difference and carry this university to the next generation," said Richey.

For more information on the PSI, check out http://www.uky.edu/psi/, or head to http://www.uky.edu/

 and click the "Giving" button.