President Capilouto Reflects on a Year of Promise

With 2013 behind us, and the Spring semester underway, we have a great deal of success to build upon in 2014. The past year was one of promises made, promises kept. Together, we advanced our work in teaching, research, service and care.

Because of you, we moved the needle in improving our institution and, through it, the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Our success is the result of bold leadership, transformative philanthropy, eager curiosity and compelling ambition for discovering the unknown. Over the last two-and-a-half years, I have come to realize the full measure of love and devotion of the UK Family to their students, colleagues and work.

Because of you, and guided by the values and vision of the University of Kentucky, we have: provided a better future for our students through education and experience; created new knowledge and scholarship in our laboratories, performance halls and in the field; treated and healed patients from all corners of the Commonwealth; and served communities from Pikeville to Paducah.

We have made meaningful progress because of the partnerships that carry our work forward and the opportunities that you create. This video message captures the success that is evident in a chorus of stories across our university. Success in:

·        Revitalizing our academic, athletics and fine arts facilities,

·        Providing modern living-learning communities for students,

·        Improving the quality of life for patients,

·        Advancing cutting-edge research and discovery,

·        And educating and mentoring scores of UK students.

We found new leaders to help guide the UK Family. Provost Christine Riordan joined us in August and has quickly become an indispensable part of our campus. And Dr. Nancy Cox was appointed Dean of the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.

In 2013, we created and adopted a Master Plan for our campus; guiding principles that will direct our capital investments and infrastructure improvements. We launched a new strategic planning effort, led by Provost Christine Riordan. The new Financial Model of Accountability is entering its partnership year. The Model holds potential for more closely aligning resources with our priorities identified in the strategic plan, and encouraging entrepreneurism in our colleges and units.

We welcomed national figures, artists and lawmakers to the University to add their insights to the scholarly fabric of our campus. Among them were Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan; Dr. Tamera Luzzatto, Senior Vice President of Government Relations for The Pew Charitable Trusts; renowned jazz musician, Arturo Sandoval; former U.S. Comptroller General David Walker; and artisans from Inner Mongolia University who joined UK students and faculty in an international performance at the Singletary Center. 

New partnerships were established that allow the University to extend the value of its work. Our faculty and staff are engaged with product innovators at General Electric Appliances; health care providers are supporting a network of cardiovascular care in eastern Kentucky; UK HealthCare’s skilled health administrators are managing the Commonwealth’s new Eastern State Hospital; and we are working with the Kentucky National Guard to better prepare medics in the field.

In addition to earning NCI-designation, UK’s research enterprise is addressing issues critical to Kentucky that have a global impact. The Center for Applied Energy Research is working with Duke Energy on a cost-efficient, effective method for carbon capture. Pioneering researchers are working diligently on two Kentucky killers; Parkinson’s disease and obesity. The discoveries we make today hold exceptional promise for a brighter tomorrow.

We invested in the people that make the University of Kentucky a great place to learn, grow and discover. To support our students’ education, we built a state of the art campus security system, and increased support for counseling, advising and the library. The 2013-14 budget held our tuition increase to three percent – the lowest increase in 15 years – and invested in student scholarships and financial aid. Also included in the budget was a five percent merit-based salary pool to reward hardworking faculty and staff.

And our students - whose brilliance and ingenuity amazes me – accomplished incredible things for themselves and for their community. The acoUstiKats had an outstanding run on NBC’s The Sing Off. Students volunteered thousands of hours helping the Lexington community; packed boxes and collected food for Haiti; and stood for 24 hours to raise more than $1 million for DanceBlue. At the same time, they wrote the University of Kentucky Creed that captures the essence of seeing blue on our campus and pursued their academic interests.

As we reflect on the past and look forward to our future, the University will continue to uphold its responsibility to serve Kentucky’s shared hope for a brighter tomorrow. I believe in the promise of our institution, the vision you advance, and the collective capacity of our people to see it through to its fruition.

This past year was one of promises made, promises kept. In the year ahead, we will work to extend our commitments to all we teach and serve. But, today, we have an opportunity to pause, reflect and give thanks.

Thank you for all you continue to do for the University of Kentucky.