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UK Great Teachers Demystify the Pandemic in Virtual Speaker Series

Graphic that says Great Teachers on Great Challenges

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 2, 2020) The COVID-19 pandemic seems to present a textbook case study of a wicked problem: a challenge that is complex, contradictory, dynamic, and eludes our efforts to understand it in its totality. Among the effects of the pandemic is a general sense of uncertainty and confusion. How do we make sense of the enormous amount of information, news, narratives and effects related to the pandemic?

The UK Alumni Association and the Provost’s Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching have partnered to host a series of conversations involving UK faculty who have won the UK Alumni Association’s Great Teacher Award. With the goal of demystifying the pandemic and its effects locally and globally, these sessions will unpack the insights and expertise of UK’s teacher-scholars for all audiences.  

Beyond responding to the immediate questions pertaining to COVID-19, the “Great Teachers on Great Challenges” series stems from UK’s mission as a land-grant and state flagship public research university. It’s important at any time, and especially this one, to leverage the intellectual leadership of our faculty and work together to better understand the world we share. In this uncertain environment, we hope to offer a space of community, support and learning for our alumni, students, faculty, staff and friends to stay connected and informed.

The first session of the series will focus on the economic context and impact of the pandemic. Great Teacher recipients Gail Hoyt, professor of economics and Gatton College Teaching Fellow at the Gatton College of Business and Economics, and Darshak Patel, senior lecturer of economics and the director of undergraduate studies at the Gatton College of Business and Economics, will cohost the first session at 4 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 4. 

The “Economics in the Time of COVID-19” session panelists include the following faculty from the Gatton College of Business and Economics: 

  • Mike Clark, associate professor; interim director, Center for Business and Economic Research; 
  • Jenny Minier, professor of economics;  
  • Ken Troske, Richard W. and Janis H. Furst Endowed Chair of Economics; and 
  • Jim Ziliak, Gatton Endowed Chair in Microeconomics; director, Center for Poverty Research; executive director, Kentucky Federal Statistical Research Data Center. 

Participants will have the opportunity to engage with the panelists and hosts during the live Zoom event. To register, click here

The second session will focus on the changes and disruptions to the food supply chain amidst the pandemic. Great Teacher Steve Isaacs, extension professor in farm management and leadership development in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, will host the session at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 10. Isaacs is also the co-director of the Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program and director of the UK Income Tax Seminar Program. 

Panelists for the “Food in the Time of COVID-19” session will include the following faculty from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment: 

  • Will Snell, extension professor, macro ag economy, policy and trade; co-director, Kentucky Agricultural Leadership Program; 
  • Tammy Stephenson, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies, Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition; director, Undergraduate Certificate in Food Systems and Hunger Studies; co-director, Undergraduate Certificate in Nutrition for Human Performance; and 
  • Jason Swanson, assistant professor and director of undergraduate studies, Department of Retailing and Tourism Management.

To register for this session, click here

These sessions are free and available to the public. Additional sessions will continue to be added. To learn more about the virtual series and to register for upcoming sessions, 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 four 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" three 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 five 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.