Professional News

UK Philanthropy, Alumni Association Win Numerous CASE Awards

photo of President Capilouto and others cutting ribbon to open Center for Student Philanthropy
President Eli Capilouto and members of the Student Philanthropy Board cut a ribbon to open the new Center for Student Philanthropy in 2018. Its launch resulted in a Grand Award from CASE.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 18, 2019) University of Kentucky Philanthropy and the UK Alumni Association brought home 12 awards from the CASE Kentucky Conference, highlighting programs, communications and initiatives from last fiscal year.

“We are proud of our staff and pleased with these awards, but more importantly, we are grateful for the impact these programs have had on our alumni and university community,” said Mike Richey, vice president of philanthropy and alumni engagement. “Through these initiatives, we are connecting more people to the university, celebrating their accomplishments and contributions and helping to spread a culture of philanthropy across campus, throughout the community and to all of our alumni.”

Among the five Grand Awards — the highest distinction awarded — was recognition of the Center for Student Philanthropy launch. One of the first centers of its kind, the Center for Student Philanthropy opened in September 2018 as a campus resource. The center hosts speakers, networking events and offers a library of philanthropy materials. Its goal is to help students understand and embrace philanthropy, whether it is giving back through volunteering, supporting university philanthropy events, raising money for their student organizations or giving financially.

The center also underscores the goals of Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, the university’s $2.1 billion comprehensive campaign focused on increasing opportunities for student success, funding innovative research, improving health care, strengthening our alumni network and supporting our athletic programs.

CASE Kentucky also recognized the Alumni Association’s new membership model rollout at its annual conference on Dec. 6. On July 1, the association switched from a traditional dues-based membership model to a giving-based model, where anyone who gives $75 to any UK fund is recognized as an Active Member and receives an enhanced tier of benefits. In addition, all UK alumni who have earned 12 or more credit hours are recognized as members and receive a basic tier of benefits. The existing Life Member program remains intact to honor those who have made a lifetime commitment.

The Alumni Association executed a multipronged campaign to inform alumni and donors of the new model and invited existing one- and three-year members to renew their annual membership or to upgrade to a Life Membership before the change.  

As a result, they won Grand Awards for their printed life conversion solicitation and online discounted life membership solicitation commemorating the Wildcat football team’s winning streak last year and an Award of Excellence for the new membership model awareness campaign.

“The new membership model is an opportunity to recognize the alumni who have loyally supported UK and to build relationships with alumni and friends who previously were not members,” said Jill Smith, interim executive director of the Alumni Association. “In the first five months of the new membership model, we have seen a 15% increase in the number of Life and Active members, which shows that more alumni are embracing the new model. Our team took a strategic approach to promoting this new structure, and as a result, programs, units and funds across campus are benefiting from the increased support.”

The new membership model supports Kentucky Can, which aims to increase alumni giving by 21%. By empowering alumni to give to the colleges, units and funds most meaningful to them, the UK Alumni Association is connecting more people to the university and helping to bring UK closer to its $2.1 billion campaign goal.

Other award highlights included a Grand Award for building partnerships to grow and fund Feast on Equality, an annual fundraiser to support LGBTQ* programming on campus and to raise awareness about issues facing LGBTQ* youth; and an Award of Excellence for the 2018 UK Alumni Band Reunion celebrating Harry Clarke’s 50th anniversary of becoming the director of the Wildcat Marching Band. He still leads the Alumni Band. An online story about his memories as band director won a Grand Award.

One Day for UK, the university’s first 24-hour giving day, won an Award of Excellence for its inaugural marketing, solicitation and engagement campaign.

“In the first public year of the campaign, we have had enormous success, raising more than $200 million for the second year in a row, surpassing the halfway point to our goal and receiving transformative gifts that will change the landscape of the university for years to come,” Richey said. “Programs, campaigns and communications like these are the reason why. Our donors, alumni and friends feel more engaged in the UK community. They understand better how they can make a difference and have seen the impact their generosity is making on the lives of our students, faculty, researchers and health care professionals.”

A full list of awards is below:

         Grand Award / Communications & Marketing – External Relations Engagement Program / Center for Student Philanthropy

         Award of Excellence / Communications & Marketing – External Relations Engagement Program / Engage: A Woman’s Networking & Mentoring Event

         Award of Excellence / Communications & Marketing – External Relations Engagement Program / New Membership Model Awareness Campaign

         Award of Excellence / Philanthropy – Sub Unit Campaign / One Day for UK

         Grand Award / Writing for Fundraising / UK Alumni Association Life Conversion Solicitation

         Grand Award / Writing for the Web / Harry Clarke looks back on his years leading the Wildcat Marching Band

         Award of Merit / Feature Writing / Atlanta Club proud of scholarship recipient Anna von Schmeling ’19 CI

         Grand Award / Online Innovation/Experimentation / UK Alumni Association 10 Wins = 10% Off Life Membership

         Grand Award / Special Event / Feast on Equality

         Award of Excellence / Alumni Relations – Special Project, Event or Program / 2018 UK Alumni Band Reunion – Harry Clarke’s 50th Anniversary Celebration

         Award of Excellence / Photography – Individual / Bowman is off to the races

         Award of Merit / Photography – Individual / 2019 UK Spring Commencement ceremony

The UK Alumni Association is committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association, visit or call 800-269-2586.

To learn more about Kentucky Can, visit

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" two years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.