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The Gaines Center

Fall Greetings from The Gaines Center

Dear Alumni and Friends of the Gaines Center,

Classes started at UK yesterday, so it’s time for me to welcome you to a new school year. I’ve now been through a full year as director of the Gaines Center, and Lisa, Connie and I are pleased with where we find ourselves. A major goal last year was to tighten up senior-thesis preparation. In the end, all twelve seniors defended first-rate theses. That’s a huge compliment to them, and the extra scaffolding we provided served them well. We also worked with the College of Arts & Sciences to launch a programming initiative around the theme of “Violence and the Human Condition.” This academic year will see five different mini-conferences and workshops pertaining to this theme in several different ways, involving dozens of UK faculty and a number of experts from other universities.

A great highlight was a late-May trip to China with the rising senior class of Gaines fellows. We met with students, faculty, and administrators at five different Chinese universities (in Shanghai, Beijing, and Qufu) and toured many fascinating cultural sites. This was a truly unforgettable experience for all involved. We made many new friends, formed the sort of tight bond that can only come from traveling together, and took a crash course in global citizenship. The fellows were model cultural ambassadors from beginning to end. Pictures and the fellows’ own words will much more eloquently capture our wonderful adventure than anything I can write. A slideshow featuring selected images from our trip can be found here. (We have over 1,000 more photographs from the trip on our photography host site that we're still organizing!) Below this message you’ll also find a travel diary and post-trip reflections provided by the fellows themselves. Enjoy! This trip was made possible by the UK Confucius Institute and its wonderful director, Huajing Maske.  Whether we can take another such trip in the future rests entirely on Confucius Institute headquarters in Beijing. But rest assured I’ll do everything in my power to try to make it happen. I know that the UK Confucius Institute was deeply impressed by the Gaines fellows, and would like to find ways to sustain this new relationship.

I also append below a statement of Gaines Center goals for the 2015-16 academic year. Some are designed to sustain and build on goals we identified last year, while others are new. Together, I’m confident they’ll enable us to sustain our energy and add to our accomplishments. You’ll see that one of our major goals this year is to reach out to our wonderful network of alumni, and keep you better informed of our activities. I’m also eager to obtain good contact information for as many of our alumni as possible. I’ll shortly be enlisting you to help with this task in whatever modest way you can.  

Finally, we’d love to hear what you’re up to! If you have any news or simply a short message you’d like for us to share with other alumni, please drop us a line. We’d love to be able to circulate informal class notes, perhaps once a year or so.

I hope you’ll agree that we have much to feel excited about as we head into the new academic year.  Finally, please mark your calendar! We’re scheduling an alumni cookout here at the Gaines Center for the evening of Saturday, April 30, 2016. We’re hoping that many of you will be able to attend, and of course we’ll send out more information in due course.

All the best,


Phil Harling
Gaines Professor of the Humanities
Distinguished Service Professor of History
Director, Gaines Center for the Humanities
University of Kentucky


About the Gaines Center for the Humanities

Founded in 1984 by a generous gift from John and Joan Gaines, the Gaines Center for the Humanities functions as a laboratory for imaginative and innovative education on the University of Kentucky's campus. Devoted to cultivating an appreciation of the humanities in its students and faculty, the Center embraces varied paths of knowledge, and particularly strives to integrate creative work with traditional academic learning.

Located in three historic buildings between the University of Kentucky and downtown Lexington, the Center is also designed to provide a link, intellectual as well as geographic, between the campus and town communities. The Center sponsors an array of public events - seminars, workshops, and culinary events — that bring the rich and varied resources of the Lexington community and the University of Kentucky together.