Our Progress and Planning to Move Forward

I am continually gratified by the support the University of Kentucky receives from so many people like you in so many profoundly important ways.

Last weekend, our Board of Trustees met for an intense and focused set of meetings with one purpose in mind -- planning for UK's future growth and development.

After nearly two days of deep dialogue and earnest discussion, the Board strongly endorsed guiding principles for the continued development of two plans central to our shared future -- our institution's strategic plan and a long-term master plan. One speaks to our vision for the kind of academic and research institution we want to be, one that educates Kentucky's best and brightest and that uses the skill and intellect of our faculty and staff to find solutions to our most vexing challenges.

The other plan -- a master plan -- aims to help guide our physical development and growth -- now and for decades to come. We must grow to meet our responsibilities and mission, educating more students and preparing them for a complex world. But we must do so smartly and strategically, with an eye toward enhancing relationships with neighborhoods around us and the community we call home.

Our strategic plan for 2014-2020 – what we are calling “see tomorrow. A Strategic Plan for the University of Kentucky” – will be developed by our entire campus. Informed and enhanced by conversations with alumni, donors and so many who support us, we will be developing this long-term plan in a collaborative fashion between now and June. Six principles for the strategic plan include:

·        Creating a vibrant undergraduate learning community

·        Advancing a high quality graduate and professional education portfolio

·        Cultivating a robust research environment

·        Developing a strong and sustainable UK infrastructure

·        Creating a positive work environment for faculty and staff

·        Having a meaningful impact on the Commonwealth and community

Principles for the master plan, which has been under development for a little more than a year, are focused on:

·        Academic environment: creating a 21st century learning environment that supports the needs of today’s students

·        Campus life: enhancing the student life experience

·        Community: forging partnerships that strengthen neighborhoods and downtown

·        Growth: establishing a long-term plan for growth consistent with UK’s mission

·        Mobility: facilitating safer and more efficient mobility

·        Landscape structure: establishing legible open space and landscaping that improves campus quality

·        Sustainability: integrating sustainability in every aspect of planning

For these plans to be more than mere papers enclosed in thick binders on a shelf, they will need the collaborative focus of an entire campus community and the support of our board and people like you, some of our most valued friends and supporters.

These plans can have a lasting impact so long as we keep in mind the essential truth of our promise as an institution.

For three weeks earlier this month, I traveled across Kentucky and neighboring states, representing UK in several cities in Kentucky and the region. I was reminded again of what UK means to Kentucky and how tied we are to each other.

My time out in the state has only deepened my sense of optimism about UK's future. I believe we have a window of opportunity, if we seize it now. We can be a leader in providing the highest-quality, residential educational experience in Kentucky and the region -- one infused with technology and emboldened by research and service that gives our students and our state unparalleled opportunities.

After all, that was our founding promise, forged nearly 150 years ago. I know you join me in seeking to renew that promise today as we lay a foundation of progress to carry us forward for the next generation and the one that follows.

Thank you for what you do to make the promise real today and for many tomorrows to come.