UK Happenings

Belle C. Gunn First-Year Program Welcomes Freshmen With Tenacity, Curiosity, Passion

UK residence hall Woodland Glen IV
Students participating in the Belle C. Gunn Living Learning Program will live in Woodland Glen IV, one of several new residence halls on campus. Mark Cornelison | UK Photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 22, 2019) — The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment (CAFE) recently announced a reimagined living learning program, the Belle C. Gunn First-Year Program.

In 1888, Belle C. Gunn was the first woman to graduate with a bachelor’s degree from what was then known as the State College of Kentucky and is now the University of Kentucky. Beginning in fall semester 2020, the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment’s living learning program, an on-campus residential program, will carry her legacy into the 21st century by offering a unique opportunity for first-time freshmen wanting to apply their passion and determination to today’s challenges.

“Gunn had the tenacity to swim against the tide and obtain a degree at a time when college-educated women were rare,” said Megan Tennison, CAFE living learning program coordinator. “It’s fitting for her to be the namesake of our new program. We want students who, like Gunn, are eager to push boundaries and apply their ambition to address 21st century issues.”

Grounded in agriculture, similar to Gunn’s Shelby County upbringing, the program introduces students to the interrelated systems of food, economics and environment.

All UK students are eligible to join, regardless of their chosen major or college. Depending on their expressed interests, each student will join one of the following tracks:

  • Food and Health: for students interested in a broad understanding of food, from production to nutrition.
  • Nature and Landscapes: for students interested in environmental and sustainability issues.
  • Family and Community: for students interested in issues facing families, small businesses and local tourism.
  • Livestock and Equine: for students interested in domestic, large-breed animals.

Beyond track-based courses and activities, students can expect regular, professional development workshops, Lexington outings, social gatherings and community service projects.

“If my child were coming to college, I would encourage them to be in a living learning program. I think it’s a great way to integrate yourself into a community inside UK and experience all the university has to offer,” said Carmen Agouridis, CAFE associate dean for instruction. “The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is a family, and we are excited to be able to welcome new students into the fold through this exceptional program and help them navigate that first year at a university. Through all the opportunities available to them, freshmen will also build leadership and critical thinking skills that will stand them in good stead for the rest of their lives.”

Students will live in Woodland Glen IV, one of several new residence halls on campus. Institutional research has shown that freshmen who select living learning programs have higher grade-point averages and are more likely to graduate. LLP students have also expressed a greater sense of belonging to the UK community than those who choose other living arrangements.

Students wanting to participate in this program should select “Agriculture, Food and Environment” when completing the housing application at Contact Tennison with questions about the program at 859-257-3468 or

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.