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About our University

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 30,000 students and approximately 14,500 employees, including more than 2,300 full-time faculty, and operates an annual budget of nearly $3.4 billion. UK is one of eight universities in the United States that has colleges of agriculture, engineering, medicine and pharmacy on a single campus, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and unique interdisciplinary collaboration. The state’s flagship university consists of 17 academic and professional colleges where students can choose from more than 200 majors and degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The colleges are Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts and Sciences; Business and Economics; Communication and Information; Dentistry; Design; Education; Engineering; Fine Arts; the Graduate School; Health Sciences; Law; Medicine; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; and Social Work. Supporting and emboldening our scholarly community is a comprehensive research library system made up of nine facilities, including the world-class William T. Young library.

The student body is diverse, representing more than 100 countries, every state in the nation, and all 120 Kentucky counties. The University continues to attract the best and brightest from Kentucky and beyond. At 25.5, the average ACT score for first-year students is more than four points above the national average. Several hundred students participated in the Governor’s Scholars Program or the Governor’s School for the Arts; and the University enrolled 289 National Merit, National Achievement and National Hispanic Scholars in the last three years. UK students compete successfully for prestigious scholarships and awards, such as the Fulbright, Astronaut, Truman, Goldwater, Marshall, Udall and Gates. UK had its 15th and 16th Astronaut Scholars named in 2013-14. Additionally, UK has had 13 Truman Scholars since the program started, as well as 18 Goldwater Scholars since 1990. In the 2014-15 academic year, UK had its 5th Marshall Scholar, and two Gates Cambridge Scholars have been named in the past seven years. This past year, three students received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

In the last several years, UK has received nearly 100 national rankings for excellence in academics, research, health care and economic development. Five programs are ranked at the top of their respective fields. U.S. News and World Report ranks several of UK’s graduate programs among the nation’s best: the Martin School of Public Policy and Administration is ranked second in the category of public finance and budgeting, and the College of Pharmacy is ranked fifth. The University of Kentucky earned 28 Top 10 rankings and 50 Top 25 rankings over the last several years.

The College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Hispanic Studies and doctoral program in Clinical Psychology have both received top honors for faculty productivity and scholarly activity. UK’s premier professional opera training program was named one of the top programs in the nation by the Tucker Foundation. The Institute for the Theory and Practice of International Relations named the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce among the top 20 master’s degree programs in international affairs in the world. In the last few years, the College of Public Health (overall); the Gatton College of Business and Economics, Ph.D. in business administration; the College of Health Sciences, Physical Therapy program; the College of Medicine, Ph.D. in physiology; and the College of Nursing (overall) have been ranked in the Top 25 in their respective fields. In addition, a study published in the Southern Economic Journal ranked the Gatton College of Business and Economics’ Department of Economics 19th among public institutions in the U.S, and Gatton’s Masters in Accountancy program has among the highest passage rates on the CPA exam. The College of Agriculture, Food and Environment – the foundation of our land- grant mission – boasts the nation’s third largest Cooperative Extension Service, and UK’s College of Law is ranked a top 10 best buy.

In 2007, the University of Kentucky became the 16th American public university – 31st of both public and private – that successfully completed campaigns of more than $1 billion. Moreover, the University was the first institution to reach this milestone in its first-ever billion-dollar capital campaign. Following the campaign, the University initiated a campus-wide review of all college, UK HealthCare, athletics and special program development efforts. As a result, UK is at its highest level of fundraising success.

With its well-manicured landscape and landmark buildings, UK’s campus also offers great facilities that advance the scholarship of its students and the research endeavors of its faculty. At the heart of the campus is the iconic William T. Young Library, the most visible of several facilities that comprise UK Libraries. The stately architecture features a 93-foot-tall rotunda and a dramatic five-floor atrium allowing natural light to pour in from skylights. UK Libraries is among the world’s leading research libraries with a broad scope of advanced technology that offers students, faculty, staff and Kentucky residents special access to current information online in addition to printed resources.

To match the scope, scale and grandeur of William T. Young Library, the University of Kentucky has recently engaged in an effort to revitalize student living and learning spaces. UK’s public/private partnership with EdR will yield more than 6,500 modern beds and 202 active learning spaces in 13 buildings by 2017 – a $348 million investment made by our partners.

  • Central Halls I & II opened in Fall 2013;
  • Woodland Glen I& II, Haggin Hall and Champions Court I& II opened in Fall 2014;
  • Woodland Glen III, IV, & V are scheduled to open in Fall 2015;
  • Limestone Park I & II are scheduled to open in Fall 2016;
  • and University Flats is scheduled to open in Fall 2017.

Over the last four years, the University approved the construction of more than $1.7 billion in infrastructure to bolster the long-term health and success of the institution. In addition to the aforementioned residential housing projects, UK is investing:

  • $65 million to renovate and expand the Gatton College of Business and Economics with the support of generous donors and friends.
  • $110 million in a new Academic Science Building that will define cutting-edge, interdisciplinary education and research that spans an array of scientific fields. UK Athletics is funding nearly two-thirds of this modern learning and research space – an unprecedented move in American higher education and NCAA athletics.
  • $120 million to enhance Commonwealth Stadium and $45 million to renovate and expand the Nutter Training and Recruiting Center; financed completely by self-generated revenue from UK Athletics.
  • $20 million invested in the College of Fine Arts, including a new home for the School of Art and Visual Studies.
  • $150 million to continue the fit-out of UK HealthCare’s Chandler Hospital; financed with clinical revenue.
  • $175 million to renovate and expand the student center and create a modern facility for the campus and community; financed with the support of donors and friends of the institution.
  • $65 million to dramatically renew – in partnership with the state and donors – the College of Law.
  • A $265 million multi-disciplinary health science research facility; financed by the state and institution.

Research at the University of Kentucky is a dynamic enterprise encompassing traditional scholarship, the humanities, health care and emerging fields and technologies. UK’s research enterprise received approximately $260 million in external grants and contracts in 2014, resulting in an annual direct and indirect economic impact of $581 million, more than 8,000 jobs and $21.3 million generated in local and state taxes.

With more than 50 research centers and institutes, UK researchers are discovering new knowledge, providing a rich training ground for current students and the next generation of researchers, advancing the economic growth of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and exploring art and creativity of diverse cultures. After working for more than 10 years on unlocking an ancient piece of history, faculty in the UK Department of Computer Science will “virtually” unroll 2,000-year old Heculaneum scrolls buried by volcanic eruption in AD 79. The discovery – made possible by first-of-its-kind software – could have profound impacts on history and literature from the Classical era.

As a Carnegie Engaged Institution, several centers at UK excel in the services offered to the public. The Gluck Equine Research Center is one of only three facilities of its kind in the world, conducting research into diseases of the horse. The Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER) is pursuing groundbreaking innovation across the energy disciplines. CAER staff are pioneering new ways to sustainably utilize Kentucky natural resources through carbon-capture algae technology, biomass/coal-to-liquid products and the opening of UK’s first LEED-certified research lab to support the development of Kentucky’s growing alternative energy industry. The College of Education’s P20 Innovation Lab is reforming Kentucky classrooms by implementing 21st century learning techniques derived from pedagogical research, preparing new teachers and providing additional training for school and district leadership.

Among the brightest examples of UK’s investment in transformative research is the Markey Cancer Center. As a center of excellence and distinction at UK, Markey’s robust research and clinical enterprise is the cornerstone of our commitment to Kentucky – fundamental to our success in uplifting lives through our endeavors and improving the general health and welfare of our state – burdened by the nation’s highest rate of cancer deaths per 100,000 people. In 2013, Markey earned the prestigious National Cancer Institute designation (NCI) – one of 68 nationally and the only one in Kentucky.

Because UK is one of the few universities in the country with a research and teaching campus and a medical center in one central location, multidisciplinary research is particularly strong. Through the collaborative efforts of nearly 200 faculty and staff across 12 departments and colleges, the University of Kentucky was awarded a $20 million Clinical Translational Sciences Award (CTSA) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). As one of only 60 institutions with this research distinction, UK was awarded the CTSA for its potential in moving research and discovery in the lab into practical field and community applications. The CTSA and NCI are part of a trifecta of federal research grants that includes an Alzheimer’s Disease Center. UK is one of only 22 universities in the country to hold all three premier grants from NIH.

Established in 1957, the medical center at UK is one of the nation’s finest academic medical centers and includes the University’s clinical enterprise, UK HealthCare. The 569-bed UK Albert B. Chandler Hospital and Kentucky Children’s Hospital, along with 256 beds at UK Good Samaritan Hospital, are supported by a growing faculty and staff providing the most advanced subspecialty care for the most critically injured and ill patients throughout the Commonwealth and beyond. Over the last several years, the number of patients served by the medical enterprise has increased from roughly 19,000 discharges to more than 36,000 discharges in 2014.

UK Chandler Hospital includes the only Level 1 Trauma Center for both adult and pediatric patients in Central and Eastern Kentucky. In addition, the dramatic growth of UK HealthCare’s clinic enterprise – moving the hospital from the 85th to the 35th percentile, nationally – has created more than 5,000 additional high-paying jobs over the last several years. While our new patient care pavilion is the leading healthcare facility for advanced medical procedures in the region, our talented physicians consult with and travel to our network of affiliate hospitals so Kentucky citizens can receive the best health care available close to their home and never need to leave the Bluegrass for complex subspecialty care.

The University has demonstrated its commitment to partnerships with business and other institutions of higher learning. In Lexington, UK is shaping a better relationship with the community by directly engaging with businesses, local government and civic service organizations. As a $3.4 billion university, UK is the region’s largest employer, providing more than 12,300 full-time jobs and more than $78 million in state and local payroll taxes.

UK’s reach extends far beyond the borders of Fayette County. As an anchor institution for the Bluegrass Economic Advanced Movement, UK’s College of Engineering and graduates of our institution are a critical component of growing an advanced manufacturing economy in Central Kentucky. UK is also part of the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium, a collection of 13 postsecondary institutions working together to advance the cause of learning. And we work collaboratively with other institutions to establish joint degree programs and improve the pipeline of students transferring between colleges and universities.

UK’s agenda remains committed to accelerating the University’s movement toward academic excellence in all areas and gain worldwide recognition for its outstanding academic programs, its commitment to students, its investment in pioneering research and discovery, its success in building a diverse community and its engagement with the larger society. It’s all part of the University’s mission as a 21st century flagship and land grant research university. From its first Nobel Laureate to cutting-edge work in addressing health disparities, and from the artistic wonders that stir souls to our scientific creativity that inspires minds, UK seeks a brighter future through the contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni.