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By Selena Stevens


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"Our college will prepare the next generation of professionals who will work with families and children, policy makers and service providers to improve the lives of Kentuckians."

-- Dean Retia Walker,
UK College of Human Environmental Sciences

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July 31, 2001 – (Lexington, Ky.) – The University of Kentucky College of Human Environmental Sciences today accepted the first donation and officially kicked off a $1.4 million fund-raising campaign to support a new early childhood development and family center at today. UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. and Human Environmental Sciences Dean Retia Walker accepted a $50,000 gift from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.

Nana Mensah, a member of the R.J. Reynolds board, presented the gift on behalf of the company. Mensah also serves on the college's board of volunteers, a group that assists the college with development goals.

Children from UK's Early Childhood Lab made a special musical presentation, and students and faculty from the Department of Family Studies also participated.

"The Commonwealth of Kentucky has identified early childhood development as a top priority, and the University of Kentucky is poised to provide professional development leadership in implementing the state's 20-year Comprehensive Early Childhood Plan. Our college will prepare the next generation of professionals who will work with families and children, policy makers and service providers to improve the lives of Kentuckians," Dean Walker said.

"As the state's flagship institution of higher education, UK must be able to model cutting-edge programs in a state-of-the-art facility for research, teaching and service. We are grateful that the business community also understands that children and families are important and is willing to help us with this fund development priority. We are pleased that R.J. Reynolds is helping us begin our fund-raising drive."

The proposed 32,000-square-foot building will house the HES Early Childhood Lab, UK Family Center, the Research Center for Families and Children and the Department of Family Studies, as well as a distance-learning lab and several educational clinics. By housing these programs in one facility, UK will be able to more conveniently offer a range of services for families and children, while providing a more integrated educational and research environment for students and faculty.

The Early Childhood Lab provides preschool, full-day infant/toddler and Early Start programs for Fayette County children and also serves as a teacher training and research facility for UK students and educators.

The Research Center for Families and Children investigates numerous issues related to families and children, from program evaluations and need assessments to basic and applied research and secondary data analysis.

Through the Family Center, master's degree students and faculty in the marriage and family therapy program provide therapy for clients. The distance-learning lab will allow students and faculty to connect with all 120 counties across Kentucky, viewing model programs, learning from a variety of educators and professionals and sharing new research and teaching techniques with field professionals. Home child-care providers, professional child-care and preschool staff and educators across the state will be able to access continuing education programs through the lab.

"Audio and video conferencing technology will have statewide impact to help prepare high-quality professionals who work with children and families," Walker said.

A campus location for the new building will be selected once the money has been raised, Walker said.

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