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About our University

The innovation, creativity, quality teaching and uplifting service under way at the University of Kentucky touches the lives of people throughout the state, the nation and the world. This is our covenant with the Commonwealth — honored through ground-breaking research, community outreach, intellectually rigorous education, and technological advances that contribute to the betterment of the state while also fostering a cultural quality of life through our museums, libraries and special events.

Founded in 1865 as a land-grant institution adjacent to downtown Lexington, UK is nestled in the scenic heart of the beautiful Bluegrass Region of Kentucky. From its early beginnings, with only 190 students and 10 professors, UK’s campus now covers more than 918 acres and is home to more than 29,000 students and approximately 14,500 employees, including nearly 2,300 full-time faculty and librarians.

UK is one of eight universities in the U.S. that has well-established programs in agriculture, engineering, medicine and pharmacy on a single campus, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and unique interdisciplinary collaboration. Kentucky’s flagship university consists of 18 academic and professional colleges where students can choose from some 200 majors and degree programs. The colleges are Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts and Sciences; Business and Economics; Communication and Information; Dentistry; Design; Education; Engineering; Fine Arts; Health Sciences; Law; Medicine; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; Social Work as well as the Graduate School and University Libraries system.

The student body is diverse, representing 117 countries, every state in the nation and every Kentucky county. The University continues to attract the best and brightest from Kentucky and beyond. The average ACT score for first-year students is four points above the national average. UK students compete successfully for prestigious scholarships and awards, such as the Astronaut, Fulbright, Truman, Goldwater, Marshall, Udall and Gates. UK had its 15th and 16th Astronaut Scholars named in the 2013-14 academic year. Additionally, 13 Truman Scholars and 18 Goldwater Scholars since 1990, and has had two Gates Cambridge Scholars in the past six years.

In Fall 2013, the University opened Central Halls I & II, adding 601 modern resident beds, new academic learning space and administrative offices for the Honors Program. Currently, Phases II-A, II-B and II-C of a multi-year public/private partnership with EdR are approved or underway. In total, 12 additional facilities across campus will add more than 5,700 beds and 202 active learning spaces by 2016. The investment thus far — nearly $348 million — will transform the way we house, educate and mentor our students.

Our investment in a modern campus environment — one that stimulates collaboration and creativity — will complement the benefits of direct student support, growth of quality academic programs, and efforts to expand access and ensure affordability. The University is self-financing several capital projects essential to our future:

  • A dramatic $65 million renovation and expansion of the Gatton College of Business and Economics, which is made possible through the generosity of our donors.
  • A new $100 million Academic Science Building that will accommodate the next century of scientific learning, research and discovery. UK Athletics is funding nearly two-thirds of this project — illustrating their unwavering support for our academic mission.
  • The $110 million renovation of Commonwealth Stadium and the $40 million renovation and expansion Nutter Training and Recruiting Center; financed completely by Athletics and philanthropy. The investments we make today ensure our place as a premier, self-supporting program in the future — one that provides nearly 500 scholarships to students from all walks of life and throughout the country.
  • Investments in our College of Fine Arts, including a new home for the School of Art and Visual Studies.
  • $150 million to continue the fit-out UK HealthCare's Chandler Hospital; financed completely by clinical revenue.
  • $165 million renovation and expansion of the Student Center
  • $65 million renewal - in partnership with the state - of the College of Law

In total, over the last few years, the University of Kentucky has authorized nearly $1 billion in self-financed capital investment. 

Our capital priorities are a critical component of our future, but our campus is more than bricks and mortar - it is the faculty, staff and administrators who foster opportunities for our students and the programs that comprise the comprehensive college experience we offer. The University’s wide variety of academic opportunities are complemented by exciting extra-curricular activities that add richly to what our students learn inside the classroom and encourage them to actively participate as part of a global community.

The University of Kentucky has a vibrant fine arts program and is a cultural hub for arts engagement in the Commonwealth. UK English professor and director of the African American and Africana Studies Program, Frank X Walker, was recently named Kentucky Poet Laureate. The School of Music’s Opera Program and Symphony travel across Kentucky, performing at middle and high schools.

Our land-grant mission is as important today as it was at our founding. With agents in every Kentucky county, the College of Agriculture boasts the nation’s third largest Cooperative Extension Service. As community leaders, UK extension agents made 7.1 million contacts in 2012 - impacting family farm practices, providing health-care access and teaching financial literacy, among other initiatives.

UK continues its ascent as a major public research institution with a bold and visionary plan to meet the needs of its students, faculty, staff and the state it serves. In 2013, the UK Markey Cancer Center announced its designation as a National Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute. This designation places UK among an elite group of 22 research universities with the triple crown of federal research awards: NCI-designation, the Clinical Translational Sciences Award and a federally supported Alzheimer’s Disease Center. 

UK HealthCare has strategically developed an incredible capacity to serve the Commonwealth through our state-of-the-art patient care pavilion and emergency rooms, advanced biomedical and biological research, and a network of affiliate health care agencies throughout Kentucky. Our passion for people and our vision for a medical campus of the future have inspired leading physicians and researchers from across the United States to join us. Since their arrival, they have balanced a research agenda with outreach to our affiliate and partner hospitals, so Kentucky families can receive quality health care at home and travel to Lexington for only the most advanced, complex medical care and procedures. In 2013, UK HealthCare was distinguished as a Top Performer by the Joint Commission, the largest medical accreditation body in the nation, and won a Rising Star Award from the University Health System Consortium.

UK’s agenda remains focused on accelerating the University’s movement toward academic, research and health care excellence that advances our state and region, as well as the world.