UK Happenings

Host selected to Public Service Hall of Fame; Shanks named Outstanding Martin School Alum

Jim Host
Kate Shanks

LEXINGTON, Ky. (April 8, 2024) — Civic leader and collegiate sports marketing pioneer Jim Host has been selected as the 2024 inductee into the Kentucky Public Service Hall of Fame. Host also served three times as a member of a Governors Cabinet.

He will receive the award at the UK Martin School of Public Policy and Administration Kentucky Public Service Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Banquet at Spindletop Hall on April 26, sponsored by the Board of Visitors. Kate Shanks will also be honored. She is the Kentucky Chamber of Commerces vice president of public affairs, who is the recipient of the Martin Schools 2024 Distinguished Alumni Award.

Host was born in Pennsylvania but grew up in Ashland and has spent most of his life in Kentucky.  He graduated from UK in 1959 with a degree in Radio Arts (then in the College of Arts and Science, now in the College of Communication and Information).  He attended UK on a baseball scholarship and initially pursued a professional baseball career as a pitcher with the Chicago White Sox organization.  His career was cut short by a shoulder injury.

In 1967 at age 29, Host became the youngest member of governor Louie B. Nunns cabinet as commissioner of the department of public information. He then went on to become commissioner of parks.  After leaving state government in 1972, he opened Jim Host and Associates, which became Host Communications, the nationally-known company that helped transform the world of collegiate sports marketing.  Host returned to state government, serving as governor Ernie Fletchers secretary of commerce from 2003-05.

Over the course of the past seven decades, Host has participated on the boards of more than 70 civic, professional, and charitable organizations.  They include serving as the first executive director of Rupp Arena, founding chairman of the Kentucky Horse Park, and chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority.  He was inducted into UKs Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2000 and the UK Athletics Hall of Fame in 2009.

There is no one in the Commonwealth more deserving of this recognition than Jim Host,” said Mike Ruehling, chair of the Martin Schools Board of VisitorsHis contributions to our state are many in number and unparalleled in scope.”

Host is the 14th inductee to the public service hall of fame, a non-partisan organization established in 2012 to recognize leaders who have demonstrated extraordinary public service to their communities and state.  The award will be presented by Lexington Mayor Linda Gorton, who has served on the Martins School Board of Visitors since 2013.

Shanks earned her master of public administration from the Martin School in 2006. She has been with the Kentucky Chamber since 2015.  Shanks was promoted to vice president of policy development in October 2018, later becoming became vice president of public affairs in November 2019. She was elevated to the position of senior vice president of public affairs in July 2021.

Prior to joining the Kentucky Chamber, Shanks spent nearly 12 years working for state agencies and held multiple positions related to communications, policy analysis/design and legislative affairs. In addition to her Martin School MPA, she also holds a bachelor of science in natural resource conservation and management from UK.

Kate personifies the Martin Schools mission of preparing graduates to make meaningful contributions in the public policy arena,” said Ron Zimmer, the Martin School director.  She is highly regarded for her expertise in a variety of areas and is an outstanding role model for our present and future students."

The 2024 Kentucky Public Service Hall of Fame and Distinguished Alumni Banquet is set for Apr 26 5:00 pm at The Club at UK’s Spindletop Hall.

As the state’s flagship, land-grant institution, the University of Kentucky exists to advance the Commonwealth. We do that by preparing the next generation of leaders — placing students at the heart of everything we do — and transforming the lives of Kentuckians through education, research and creative work, service and health care. We pride ourselves on being a catalyst for breakthroughs and a force for healing, a place where ingenuity unfolds. It's all made possible by our people — visionaries, disruptors and pioneers — who make up 200 academic programs, a $476.5 million research and development enterprise and a world-class medical center, all on one campus.   

In 2022, UK was ranked by Forbes as one of the “Best Employers for New Grads” and named a “Diversity Champion” by INSIGHT into Diversity, a testament to our commitment to advance Kentucky and create a community of belonging for everyone. While our mission looks different in many ways than it did in 1865, the vision of service to our Commonwealth and the world remains the same. We are the University for Kentucky.