The Importance of Teamwork

The importance of teamwork is not limited to the gridiron or hardwood; rather the essentiality of collaboration is everywhere. In sports, teammates support each other by offering complementary strengths at different positions.

Similarly, in music, a symphony’s sound is made possible by the collection of musicians playing their respective parts. The strings, brass, winds and percussion – under the direction of the conductor – create harmony that resonates across the performance hall.

As President, I am only as successful as those on the leadership team, just as the entire university is successful when all members of the UK family contribute and succeed.

Collaboration is critical on a college campus.

This past weekend, during the UK Men’s Basketball Game, Dr. Lisa Cassis, Interim Vice President of Research and professor and chair of the Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology, sat down with UK Public Relations and Marketing’s Carl Nathe to discuss the importance of team science (see audio link below).

Dr. Cassis discussed the value of connecting education and research at the University of Kentucky – a richness in the academic experience embraced by faculty and enjoyed by our students. She also chronicled her success in building a multi-disciplinary team that combines expertise in nutritional science, pharmacology, diabetes and obesity with her group of cardiovascular researchers. Critical to building successful teams and attracting federal research grants are the type of state-of-the-art environments where this collaboration can flourish. Dr. Cassis’ team is building exciting synergies in her lab in the Charles T. Wethington Building.

In October, the UK Board of Trustees gathered for their annual retreat with an expressed focus on research. We highlighted multi-disciplinary research teams confronting important questions and working with -- and in -- communities across Kentucky. We walked away from the weekend with the goal to develop priorities that will embolden this impactful work.

As the funding environment continues to tighten -- and the questions we ask grow more complex -- the answers we seek and actions we must take to remain competitive and grow our research enterprise will require a team approach.

The University of Kentucky is uniquely positioned to thrive in this environment if we are able to partner and earn our way forward. We are one of eight universities in the nation with a broad array of academic programs and a flagship medical center on a contiguous campus. In the last several years, we have earned the triple crown of federal research awards from the National Institutes of Health, placing us among 22 institutions with the Clinical and Translational Sciences Award, an Alzheimer’s Disease Center and National Cancer Institute designation.

Our research success is not limited to health care. We are excelling in global partnerships in energy innovation, and UK’s teaching and research teams conduct a variety of projects in Appalachia. Our College of Education takes discoveries in the P-20 Innovation Lab into the classrooms of our partner schools. These are only a few of the promising endeavors underway at the University of Kentucky.

But as Dr. Cassis said, we cannot force collaboration on our campus; we can only create the communities where innovative teams can flourish. This is why we have expended time and effort to forge creative approaches to building community on campus. Infrastructure changes in housing, dining and our academic buildings include common spaces where people can congregate and collaborate. The Academic Science Building was designed for a new century of science education that spans many disciplines. And, as we approach the New Year, we are intently planning our path to expand and enhance our research infrastructure. But identifying the place is only the first step.

We must decide to take the subsequent steps, together, and seek out partners among the diverse community of experts and creative thinkers at the University of Kentucky.