Why is the University of Kentucky moving to a values-based financial model and what does that mean? Our mission — to educate, conduct research and serve the Commonwealth — has not changed. But the way we are funded to do that critical work has — dramatically so. Consider a few factors:
- State funding for UK has declined on a recurring basis by $50 million in the last five years - and no one projects those dollars to come back in the near future.
- Policymakers, parents and students are raising questions and concerns about access and affordability, giving rise at both the state and federal levels to serious discussions about different performance funding of our work together.
- At the same time, federal support for research — our primary source of dollars in this area — also has been flat or declining.
As a result, we have to think differently, more creatively, and more collaboratively about how we receive funding for our work and how we do it together. We are not alone in this process. Other institutions, including many of those to whom we compare ourselves or aspire to emulate, have adopted their own values-based financial models. But our financial model must be based on our unique institutional values and legacy — a flagship, land-grant institution committed to education from undergraduate to post-doctoral programs as well as nationally recognized research and service intently focused on the Commonwealth. A new model is designed to focus on aligning resources with academic decision-making authority and accountability — for enrollment and how we grow, for increasing student retention and graduation rates, for measuring success in research and for creating incentives to support and promote service and interdisciplinary work and scholarship. A values-based model creates those incentives in two fundamentally important ways:
- Making the financial aspects of our operation more transparent and our system more nimble
- Empowering Colleges to make informed decisions about investing in priorities
The University of Kentucky is an institution with momentum. And as faculty, students, staff and supporters of UK, you are what make that progress and momentum possible. The new values-based financial model will empower us to continue moving forward, while ensuring accountability, quality and excellence, collaboration, coordination and transparency.