Blue Abroad: UK Students Explore University of Cambridge

Mon, 06/30/2014 - 10:08

LONDON, ENGLAND (July 1, 2014) A group of 15 UK students is seeing blue across the pond this summer. In a course designed specifically for first-generation students, students who are the first in their families to attend college, the group is exploring global communication and business in London, England, led by Director of First Generation Initiatives Matthew Deffendall.


Throughout their journey, UKNow is highlighting some of their experiences by publishing their blogs.


The class spent an afternoon at the University of Cambridge, one of the world's oldest universities, founded in 1209. Located in the county of Cambridgeshire, England, Cambridge is a leading academic and research hub, consistently ranked as one of the top universities in the world. Touring the town and campus, the students learned about the institution's 31 colleges, including Trinity College, founded by King Henry VIII and Peterhouse College, the oldest Cambridge college, which was founded in 1284.


Emily Griffin is a marketing and management major from Louisville, Kentucky. Her blog is below:


Whew! What a day!  I woke up and started my day off with a run. It is amazing to me that in 30 minutes I could run through 4 different parks and still be close to my flat. It is so nice to take in the amazing sights that are all around me. The dogs running free through the green grass, the people sitting on the benches reading the morning paper, or the people busily walking to work. I have never been in a more beautiful place. I try to take a couple minutes to just take everything in, and a feeling of calmness comes over me every time. London is truly the most beautiful place I have ever seen.


After my run and reflection, it was time to head out to Cambridge University.  We got on the National Rail service and headed toward Cambridge.  We were all sitting in the train when we suddenly go through a tunnel and everyone's ears start popping — it was hilarious to see everyone's face because no one was expecting that to happen!  The trained unfortunately arrived late, and we had to basically sprint to King's College for our tour.  However, we were too late and could not go inside because they decided to close the College early today. 


We found our tour guide who showed us around Cambridge.  The architecture is beautiful! We saw Clare College where Crick and Watson discovered DNA!  Our tour guide explained to us that as soon as they figured it out and knew they were going to "change the way we see life," they went right down the street to the pub called The Eagle.  It was really invigorating knowing we were standing in the exact same spot that all of this happened. 


After this, we walked around and looked at more of the 31 colleges that Cambridge has. It was amazing to take in the exciting, yet calming, environment.  There was an ice cream stand everywhere you looked, a candy shop, souvenirs, a shopping mall — YES a shopping mall, a mime, a man playing some very weird instrument, and much more.  It was a really cool place to be, and it definitely provided a much different vibe than what we are used to back in the United States.  Cambridge even had a market right in the middle of the University hall. 


After our tour, we had free time to roam around.  We saw some really cool places and got to shop in a few of the kiosks in the market. After our free time, we went on a punting tour!  When I first heard the word punting, I thought of kicking a ball.  But, boy was I wrong!  We got on boats with a guide who took us down the River Cam and showed us many of the colleges from a different perspective. It was so beautiful and relaxing on this ride, and it is something I will never forget.  After our tour on the river, we went into a local pub and watched the World Cup.  I had some Greek food from a small stand after we left the pub, and it was very good.  I had chicken and chips! 


Around 7:30, we headed back to take our train back in. We talked about scary movies for most of the way home. The speed that trains passed by us were somewhat frightening; however, we made it back safely. When we got to the train station, we found platform 9 and 3/4 and took a picture as if we were Harry Potter! I don't know how many people could say that they will get to do that in their lifetime!




MEDIA CONTACT: Sarah Geegan, (859) 257-5365;

Guo Lab Reports Finding of Revolution Biomotors in Many Bacteria and Viruses

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 17:39

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — Scientists at the University of Kentucky, led by nano-biotechnologist Peixuan Guo, have made some critical discoveries over the past year into the operation of biomotors, the molecular machines used by viruses and bacteria in the packaging of DNA.


Biomotors function similarly to mechanical motors but on a nano-scale. Last year, Guo's team reported the discovery of a new, third class of biomotor, unique in that it uses a "revolution without rotation" mechanism. Rotation is the turning of an object around its own axle, as the Earth does every 24 hours. Revolution is the turning of an object around a second object, as the Earth does around the sun.


Recently, Guo's team reported that these revolution biomotors are widespread among many bacteria and viruses.


Guo, director of the Nanobiotechnology Center and the William Farish Endowed Chair of Nanobiotechnology at the Markey Cancer Center and UK College of Pharmacy said these biomotors are of great interest to medical researchers.


"DNA-packaging technology has tremendous potential applications in the diagnosis and treatment of viral diseases and cancers, as well as in personalized medicine and high-throughput human genome sequencing," he said. "The DNA packaging motor itself can serve as a high efficient drug target for the development of anti-viral and anti-bacterial therapy."


Guo hopes the current findings will generate new momentum in the viral-assembly field among young scientists.


In his early career, as a graduate student in Dwight Aderson's lab, Guo constructed the first viral motor outside the cell, the DNA-packaging motor of bacteria virus phi29. He also discovered one of the vital components of the motor, the six-membered RNA ring that gears the phi29 DNA-packaging motor. His postdotoral experience at NIH with Bernard Moss, a renowned scientist in vaccinia virus studies and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, expanded his vision on the DNA packaging of animal and human viruses.     


Research on this motor led to dozens of papers published and debated in many prominent journals such as Nature, Science, Cell, PNAS, Molecular Cell, PLOS Biology, EMBO J, Virology, ACS Nano, RNA, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Protocol, Cell and Bioscience, Biotechnology Advances, Current Opinion of Biotechnology, Advanced Virus Research, Biophysical Journal and the Journal of Virology.


However, the main mechanism of motor action over many years of studies has not been elucidated until recently, Guo says.


In 1998, Guo and his lab began to test a new hypothesis. Guo's research has persisted, and it continues to strongly support the ATPase hexameric model in viral DNA packaging. Now, discovery of the revolution motor has solved many puzzles that have eluded researchers throughout the 35 years of investigations of the mechanism of dsDNA translocation motors.


Three recent publications coming out of the Guo lab provide new evidence and support for Guo's widespread revolution mechanism:

  • Guo P. Biophysical Studies Reveal New Evidence for One-Way Revolution Mechanism of Bacteriophage phi29 DNA Packaging Motor. Biophysical Journal 2014, May,106:1.
  • De-Donatis GM et al., and Guo P. Finding of widespread viral and bacterial revolution dsDNA translocation motors distinct from rotation motors by channel chirality and size. Cell & Bioscience 2014, June, 4:30.
  • Guo P. et al. Common mechanisms of DNA translocation motors in bacteria and viruses using one-way revolution mechanism without rotation. Biotechnology Advances. Biotechnology Advances 2014, July 32:853.

Co-authors from the Guo lab are Zhengyi Zhao, Gian Marco De-Donatis, Shaoying Wang and Chad Schwartz. The research was supported by National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Cancer Institute, and Common Fund from NIH director's office.



MEDIA CONTACT: Keith Hautala, 859-323-2396;


Clinical and Engineering Expertise are Combined for Better Understanding and Treatment of Back Pain

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 15:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) – Nearly eight in 10 people experience back pain at some point in their lives. Daily life, job conditions, recreational activities, and simple aging have left most of us unfortunately acquainted with some sort of back pain, ranging anywhere from acute and temporary to chronic and disabling.


In other words, nearly everybody’s back hurts, and that’s a real problem: The latest Global Burden of Disease Study (2012) ranked low back pain as the leading cause of disability globally, ahead of more than 200 other conditions. Predictably, the related economic impact is immense. According to the National Institutes of Health, low back pain is the most common cause of job-related disability and a leading contributor to missed work in the U.S., where Americans spend at least $50 billion each year on back pain.


Despite the ubiquitous nature of back pain and increasingly advanced understanding of the structure of the back, the exact causes of back pain remain largely unclear, and it’s equally mysterious why some people respond favorably to certain treatments—like chiropractic manipulation, medicine, or exercise—while others do not.


The reality is that back pain is multifactorial, and only 5 percent of low back pain cases are diagnosed with significant findings of a surgical nature on imaging like x-rays or MRIs. This means that if you have ever sought treatment for back pain, you’ve likely experienced the four- to 16-week treatment timeline involving general practitioner visits, muscle relaxers and/or pain meds, maybe some physical therapy, perhaps a pain, rehabilitation, or spinal specialist. After all that, your back pain might or might not be resolved for the majority of patients, the pain improves with time — and in either case, the cause the pain is probably still unknown. 


“Standard practice just isn’t getting to the cause of it, and there’s an unnecessary protraction of getting the right care,” said Dr. Arthur Nitz, professor of physical therapy in the UK College of Health Sciences.


His 30 years of treating back pain in the clinic have lead Nitz to team up with Dr. Babak Bazrgari, a biomedical engineering professor at UK who specializes in the mechanics of the lower back. Together they are working towards a better understanding of the back’s mechanical environment in order to generate more accurate knowledge of the specific, biomechanical causes of back pain. They hope to translate this knowledge into improved diagnosis, classification, and treatment of back pain in order to minimize the impact of its often uncertain nature.


“We would see a lot of benefits if we could get a more accurate understanding of what's behind garden variety back pain,” said Nitz.


Over the past three years, Bazrgari and Nitz have combined their clinical and engineering expertise in several studies that seek to illuminate the mechanical properties of back pain and appropriate treatments.


“If you want to correct some biomechanical problem, you need a good picture of the mechanical environment and an understanding of the consequence of a biomechanical intervention, “said Bazrgari.


Using specially designed equipment, they measure a number of mechanical variables including force, motion, reaction times and muscle activity.  Computer modeling based on biomechanical calculations then reveals exactly what force is being experienced by any element in the lower back (including muscle, ligaments or discs) when a person is performing a given activity.


 “As an engineer, I’m trying to provide tools and give information about the biomechanics of the lower back,” Bazrgari said. “Clinicians and ergonomists have to find out what to do with these differences.”


By determining the specifics parts of the lower back that have abnormal mechanical behavior and could potentially be causing the pain, clinicians will have a better decision-making platform to determine if a patient will respond to a certain treatment.


Nitz, a practicing clinician, hopes that the knowledge they gain about the biomechanical causes of back pack can be translated into simple applications for clinic settings that will more easily predict what treatments patients will respond to.


He and Bazrgari see their interdisciplinary collaboration as natural and necessary in the campaign to truly understand and address back pain.


“Biomedical engineering is something that physical therapists aren't really qualified to do,” said Nitz. “In trying to answer questions about back pain, Dr. Bazrgari needs some portal for seeing patients, and physical therapists need his expertise so we can understand the biomechanical properties of what’s actually occurring in our patients. It's a pretty natural symbiotic relationship.”


As is often the case, collaborating across disciplines has required both researchers to expand their professional vocabularies.


“It’s been a really great learning experience for me because it takes time to learn the way clinicians use terms and vice versa,” said Bazrgari.


The obvious potential for collaboration was something that attracted Bazrgari to join UK’s faculty three years ago.


“Coming here, I was excited about the collaboration possibilities. With the colleges like public health, medicine, nursing, and health sciences on a single campus, there are unique opportunities,” he said. “I’m very optimistic that through these collaborations we can do a lot related to addressing back pain.”


In addition to the hospitable climate for collaboration, their research has also been supported by the Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS), which has assisted with participant recruitment and identification of other collaborators. CCTS also awarded Bazrgari a small grant to purchase software for a research collaboration with Walter Reed Hospital to study back pain in military service members who have experienced a lower-extremity amputation.


Closer to home, the Commonwealth has many industries like mining, manufacturing and agriculture that are considered high risk for back pain, and Nitz and Bazrgari hope that their work can contribute to real improvements in the health of Kentuckians. 


“This problem won’t always be a black hole,” said Nitz. “We’re attempting to do something about it by getting involved in research at every level — baseline and clinical — to make a good faith effort to respond to the needs of the Commonwealth. And the needs of human life.”



MEDIA CONTACT: Mallory Powell,




UK Posts Record 11th-Place Finish in Directors' Cup

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:49

Lexington, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — Finishing in the top 15 of the national all-sports standings would not be easy, especially not so quickly.


By setting the goal to break into the upper echelon of college athletics departments in November 2008, Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart wanted to challenge student-athletes, coaches and staff. They responded, and UK Athletics reached the top 15 a year early.


UK finished 11th in the final standings of the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup released on Friday, besting last year’s record No. 25 finish by a wide margin and ticking off one item on Barnhart’s 15 by 15 by 15 Plan.


“I want to congratulate and thank everyone who made this remarkable year possible,” Barnhart said. “Our student-athletes, coaches and staff have worked so hard to establish UK among the best athletics departments in the nation and the Big Blue Nation has been there every step of the way.”


Athletics Director Mitch Barnhart wrote a letter to fans celebrating the finish and looking to the future. Link:


Final standings were tabulated after the conclusion of the College World Series this week. Adding in baseball’s regional final appearance, UK moved up two spots from 13th and just 5.75 points outside the top 10. UK ranks third among Southeastern Conference schools, trailing only No. 2 Florida and No. 10 Texas A&M. Stanford came in first for the 20th time in the 21-year history of the Directors’ Cup.


Strong contributions across the board landed UK in the top 15. Eighteen of UK’s 22 sports scored points by advancing to NCAA championship play, led by men’s basketball (second for 90 points), rifle (third for 85) and softball (fifth for 78). All told, seven teams finished in the top 10 for their respective sports and 15 in the top 20. See the attached chart for complete finishes by sport.


“We set out to build a comprehensive athletics department and this year was a great step in that direction,” Barnhart said. “I’m proud of what we have accomplished, but our work is far from done. Our goal is to become the best program in America.”


UK has been trending upward in Directors’ Cup standings throughout Barnhart’s tenure, particularly over the last four years.


Prior to his arrival in 2002, UK’s average finish was 40.1 and its best finish of 26th came in 1996-97. After coming in 50th in Barnhart’s first season, UK has improved in the standings in all but one year, culminating in an average finish of 21.6 over the last three seasons. Only twice before Barnhart came to Lexington did UK finish in the top 30 of final Directors’ Cup standings. UK has now accomplished the feat four times in five seasons. See the attached chart for UK’s Directors’ Cup finishes dating back to 1993-94.


The surge in Directors’ Cup standings has coincided with unprecedented achievement in the classroom for UK student-athletes. Scholarship student-athletes have now reached Barnhart’s goal of a 3.0 department-wide grade-point average set as part of his 15 by 15 by 15 Plan in four consecutive semesters, most recently with a record 3.218 GPA this spring.


With the goals of a top-15 Directors’ Cup finish and a 3.0 GPA now met, that leaves only Barnhart’s mark of 15 conference or national championships. UK currently sits at 11 with a year to go.




MEDIA CONTACT: Guy Ramsey, (859) 257-6846.


4-H'ers Help Comfort the "Soles" of African Children

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 14:19

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — For most Americans, a good pair of shoes is a given, but that’s not the case for individuals born into poverty in Africa.


4-H’ers attending Teen Conference on the University of Kentucky campus worked diligently to trace and cut pieces of denim, cotton and plastic to make African children’s feet and lives a little more comfortable.


The young leaders from across Kentucky were taking part in a shoe party organized by Danielle Hutchins, Nelson County 4-H youth development agent with the UK Cooperative Extension Service, for the organization Sole Hope.


“The purpose of the workshop at Teen Conference is to introduce 4-H’ers from all over the state to the Sole Hope project. Hopefully they’ll take it back to their districts and counties to replicate the project,” Hutchins said.


Sole Hope, a North Carolina-based nonprofit, uses the denim and plastic pieces to provide closed-toe shoes to children in Uganda and a living wage to Ugandan shoemakers, who complete the shoes. Closed-toe shoes prevent the children from getting jiggers, a common sand flea that burrows into the skin of mammals to lay their eggs. Once inside, the sand flea causes itching, irritation, inflammation and open sores, which are prone to infection. If left untreated, the infection can lead to tetanus, gangrene and potentially a loss of a toe.


Hutchins learned of the nonprofit through Paul Knuth, a 4-H volunteer at the Kentucky 4-H Volunteer Forum, who had seen the program at the 4-H Volunteer Conference of Southern States.


She secured donated denim from consignment stores, Extension Homemakers and the St. Vincent de Paul Society mission store in Nelson County and ordered a shoe party kit from the Sole Hope website. The kit included patterns to make the shoe body and heel supports to fit toddlers’ shoe size 9.


“What I like about this project as a 4-H agent is it gives me the opportunity to cover many different topics,” she said. “I can use it to teach recycling. With the 4-H sewing clubs, I can talk about patterns and finished and unfinished edges. I can talk about medical intervention, because medical personnel actually remove jiggers from children’s feet before they receive the shoes.”


Hutchins began the project with 20 Nelson County 4-H Teen Council members, many of whom were on hand to assist the Teen Conference participants.


Brandon Darby, a Nelson County 4-H Teen Council member and his mom Andrea Darby, a 4-H volunteer, made sure all the cut denim was uniform and put the shoe packets together to ship.


“This project is different from the other ones I’ve done, because it gives me a chance to make an impact at the global level, whereas my other community service projects have all focused on making a difference locally,” Brandon Darby said.


Around 100 young people participated in the two-day event during the conference. 4-H’ers attending Teen Conference and other events organized by Hutchins completed 120 packets to send to the organization.




MEDIA CONTACT:  Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.

Employee Parking Permit Delay; 2013-2014 Permits Still Valid Next Week

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:43

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2014) — University of Kentucky Parking and Transportation Services (PTS) has announced that a portion of the 2014-2015 employee parking permits may be delayed in reaching permit holders. As a result, both 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 permits will be valid in E lots through Thursday, July 3.


Parking and Transportation Services apologizes for any inconvenience.


Employees who still need to apply for a permit must do so in person at PTS in the Press Avenue Garage (PS #6), located at the corner of Press and Virginia Avenues. Office hours are 7:30 a.m.-7:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

UK Alumni Association Announces 2014 Burch Young Alumni Award Winner

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 12:11
LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 2, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Alumni Association has selected Rachel Watts Webb, a 2005 graduate of the UK College of Communication and Information, to receive the 2014 Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award.


The award is presented annually to honor and recognize a young alumna or alumnus who is an active member of the UK Alumni Association and who has worked on behalf of young people through the university, the association, their alumni club or in the local community.


Webb has been a member of the UK Alumni Association since 2005 and is a founding member of the association’s Young Alumni Council. She is active in the Shelby County UK Alumni Club and a current member of the association’s board of directors, serving on the Communications Committee and as the chairwoman of the Membership Committee.


As a student, Webb was extremely involved. She was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority, Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Eta Sigma. She served two terms as Student Government Association president, two terms on the UK Board of Trustees as a student representative and two terms on Student Senate. She was a member of the Panhellenic Council, Emerging Leaders Institute, Campus Crusade for Christ and the Homecoming Royalty Court. Upon graduation, Webb served as a government relations coordinator for the university, managing the UK Advocacy Network and assisting with UK’s government relations across the state.


Webb is the owner of Webb Consulting and is very active in her community. She and her husband, Lee Webb ’98 BE, helped build a nondenominational church, where she is involved in children’s ministry. She also volunteers her time elsewhere, including creating and implementing Tres Chic Shelbyville, an event to benefit Kosair Children’s Hospital, and assisting with the Ride to Conquer Cancer. She was also a member of the 2013 class of Leadership Shelby. She and her husband reside in Shelbyville and have two children, Walker and Warren.


About the Award


The UK Alumni Association’s Joseph T. Burch Young Alumni Award is named for a longtime UK administrator who spent the better part of his life in service to UK students.


A nominee for this award must be an alumna or alumnus who is an active member of the University of Kentucky Alumni Association, who is 10 years or less out of college at the time of nomination and who has worked on behalf of young people through the university, the association, their alumni club or in the local community:


  • Raising funds for scholarships and/or awarding scholarships for students to attend UK.
  • Working with local high school students through club-sponsored event and/or Preview Nights, to interest students in attending UK.
  • Working to educate youth in the local community, whether through tutoring, coaching or other means to keep them interested in learning.
  • Assisting in efforts to support the Student Alumni Association through mentoring or other means.

The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 1-800-269-2586. 





MEDIA CONTACT: Afton Fairchild Spencer, 859-257-7164; 


UK Alumni Association Announces 2014 Distinguished Service Award Winners

Fri, 06/27/2014 - 11:47
LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — The University of Kentucky Alumni Association honored recipients of the 2014 Distinguished Service Awards during the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors Summer Workshop held June 20 in Lexington. 


The awards are presented annually to honor and recognize those who have provided extraordinary service to the university and the association. 


The 2014 recipients are:


John Cain (1986, Business and Economics) is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association and has served in several positions for the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati UK Alumni Club over the last 15 years, including on its board of directors, as an advisory council member and as president. During his time as president, the Northern Kentucky Club was named Large Club of the Year by the association. Over the period of his involvement, Cain has helped raise significant funding for the university, including $25,000 for the “Bucks for Brains” initiative. He worked to create a scholarship in the name of Tim Freudenburg in the amount of $2,500, which is presented annually to a qualifying student with an outstanding community service record. He has also spearheaded several other fundraising events. During his time at UK, Cain was active in many organizations, including the Sigma Pi fraternity, German Club, Student Government as student body president and with the UK Board of Trustees as a student representative. He is a UK Fellow and is greatly involved in his community, serving on several local boards and as a past chairman of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the Imark Group and the Southwest Ohio Chapter of Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is the president of Wiseway Supply and the co-founder of Alliance Business Lending. He and his wife, Carla, have four daughters, Addison, Hannah, Caroline and Mary Jacqueline. 


Brooke Asbell (1986, Business and Economics) is a former member of the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors, having served two terms. He has also served on several committees during his time on the board, including chairman of Club Development, Scholarship and Great Teacher Committees, and as vice chairman of the Budget, Finance and Investments Committee. Additionally, Asbell is a Life Member and has served as president of the Dallas/Fort Worth UK Alumni Club. He has been instrumental in organizing the Dallas/Fort Worth UK Alumni Club Derby Party, which is one of the largest Derby parties put on by a UK Alumni Club.  In an effort to assist the university, Asbell has worked dilligently for student recruitment, having been involved with many college fairs and Student Send-offs. During his time at the university, he was a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity. Asbell is a partner with Asbell Development Group and has business development ventures in the Lexington Distillery District and in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has held multiple leadership positions at local and national levels. He and his wife, Laura, have two children, Samantha and Jake.


Chris Hopgood  (1984, Business and Economics; 1987, Law) is a UK Alumni Association Life Member and a member of the Wildcat Society. He has served several terms as the president of the Greater Henderson UK Alumni Club, which he has been heavily involved with for more than a decade. Hopgood is a past member of the association’s board of directors, serving as vice chairman of the Club Development Committee, vice chairman and chairman of the Membership Committee, and member of the Executive Committee and Budget, Finance and Investments Committee. As a student, Hopgood was a scholarship recipient and member of the Kentucky Law Review and Beta Gamma Sigma Honor Society. A resident of Henderson County, he has served as the past president of the Henderson County Bar Association and an attorney at Dorsey King Gray Norment and Hopgood.


Hopgood is also actively involved with youth programs and has been the coach of several basketball and baseball teams and is involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. He is married to Lonna Watson Hopgood ’85 AFE and they have two children, Evan and Jesse.


Mary “Kekee” Szorcsik (1972, Business and Economics) is a Life Member of the UK Alumni Association, a member of the Wildcat Society and current member of the Naples/Fort Myers UK Alumni Club and the UK Alumni Association Board of Directors. She has served as the president of the Naples/Fort Myers UK Alumni Club­­­­ for two years and is a member of its local board of directors. She has chaired golf tournaments to raise scholarship funds and has served as a college fair representative. With the board of directors, Szorcsik has served on the Club Development, Communications, Executive, Diversity and Group Development Committees and as chairwoman and vice chairwoman of the Membership Committee. She is a UK Fellow and member of The Club at UK’s Spindletop Hall and the Women & Philanthropy Network. In her community, she has been active in collecting books to donate to a children’s cancer unit at the local hospital and is an active member of Philanthropic Educational Organization International, which aims to celebrate, educate and motivate women. She and her husband, Mitch Szorcsik’70 ’71 BE reside in Bonita Springs, Florida. They have three grown children, Joe, Scott and Brian, and five grandchildren.


About The Award


The UK Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Awards are presented annually to honor and recognize up to four recipients, of which one can be a non-alum friend of the University of Kentucky, who have provided extraordinary service to the University of Kentucky and the Association. Nominees for this prestigious award should have:

  • Demonstrated a history of diligent work for the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Contributed to the accomplishments of the UK Alumni Association and/or a local alumni club.
  • Provided leadership and dedication to university and association programs.
  • Provided meaningful service to alumni and friends of the university, community and profession.
  • At least 12 credit hours at the university.


The UK Alumni Association is a membership supported organization committed to fostering lifelong engagement among alumni, friends, the association and the university. For more information about the UK Alumni Association or to become a member, visit or call 1-800-269-2586. 




MEDIA CONTACT: Afton Fairchild Spencer, 859-257-7164;


Staff Shared Leave Pool Donation Period Underway

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 17:46

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2014) — The University of Kentucky’s annual Staff Shared Leave Pool donation period is underway and will continue for a limited time. This program enables UK employees to help fellow staff members who have exhausted paid leave because of serious health issues affecting themselves or their family members.


For beneficiaries of the Shared Leave Pool, UK employees’ generosity has made an important impact. Since the program’s inception in 2007, UK employees have donated nearly 30,000 hours of accrued vacation leave.


Employees can support the program by completing an online donation form. Half-day and/or full-day increments can be donated. More information is available on the Human Resources website. Employees are asked to consider donating before their unused vacation time is subject to loss.


The annual donation period closes Sept. 30.

WUKY's 'UK Perspectives' Introduces New Director of Art Museum at UK

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 16:51

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2014) — WUKY's "UK Perspectives" focuses on the people and programs of the University of Kentucky and is hosted by WUKY General Manager Tom Godell.  On today's program, he talks to the new director of the Art Museum at UK, Stuart Horodner. 


To listen to the podcast interview from which "UK Perspectives" is produced, visit


"UK Perspectives" airs at 8:35 a.m. and 5:45 p.m. each Friday on WUKY 91.3, UK's NPR station.

Disaster Response Training for Animal Resource Coordinators

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 15:35

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 30, 2014) — Animals are especially vulnerable during natural disasters such as hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and winter storms, because they have to rely on humans for help. The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food and Environment is hosting the Multi-jurisdictional Animal Resource Coordination Exercise, a virtual exercise for animal responders across the United States. The exercise will take place July 9-10.


“We want to enhance responders’ knowledge and understanding of how to request resources for animal response from federal, state and non-governmental organizations during a disaster,” said Andrea Higdon, UKAg Emergency Management Systems director. “It’s also an excellent opportunity to enhance national, regional and state partnerships and challenge your state’s ability to coordinate animal response during a disaster.


“In addition to testing their abilities to request resources, participating states will also exercise their ability to respond to another state's request for animal resources."


This exercise will focus on resources for pets, livestock and horses, captive wildlife and poultry.


The exercise will begin at 10 a.m. EDT July 9 and conclude at 6 p.m. Players will receive a handbook 24 hours in advance. The exercise will resume at 10 a.m. EDT July 10 and conclude by 4 p.m.


Teams from 24 states will participate from their own Emergency Operation Center, with communication primarily through email and phone.


On day one, states will receive a broadcast detailing a natural disaster scenario. They will have to assess what animal-care resources they need and from whom they will request these resources. On day two, players will respond to resources requests from other states. To simulate a real-life natural disaster scenario, the exercise facilitator will offer exercise-wide and state-specific injects.


This exercise will occur in three stages. Stage one took place prior to the virtual training. In that stage, states participated in three training sessions that covered how to identify state resources, including what types of resources can be requested and examples of typed-resources; how to complete a Resource Request Form and make requests to non-governmental organizations including the National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition; and how to complete an Emergency Management Assistance Compact. Stage two will involve participation in the exercise. Stage three will entail developing information for the after-action report.


Visit the MARCE website for more details at


“Improving communication before, during, and after a disaster between state departments of agriculture and state emergency management will be a very valuable outcome of the exercise,” Higdon said. “Requesting animal care resources will be handled more efficiently during real-world disaster events as a result of the increased collaboration between state agencies.”



MEDIA CONTACT:  Aimee Nielson, 859-257-7707

UK Professor's Nicaraguan Study Shows Environmental Lessons Learned

Thu, 06/26/2014 - 15:07

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 27, 2014) — A University of Kentucky professor is studying the environmental impacts of Nicaraguan crop production and what the Latin American country is doing to make their farming practices more environmentally friendly.


Paul Vincelli, extension plant pathologist in the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, is spending a six-month sabbatical in Managua, Nicaragua, the capital city of the poorest country in Latin America. Poverty is an important reason environmental regulations weren’t enforced in the past.


“The people here care quite a bit about the environment,” he said. "There aren’t the same types of environmental protections that the U.S., Canada and Western European countries have because of poverty and a general lack of funding.”


In no case was it more evident than that of the country’s cotton production. In the 1970s, Nicaragua had a large cotton industry. Farmers in the country cut down forests and used watershed recharge zones to plant more cotton. Within 10 years the industry was gone, but Nicaraguans are still dealing with its effects more than 30 years later.


“Nicaraguans lost the industry because they overused pesticides and resistance developed in insects,” he said. “This caused farmers to spray their fields more often, but despite how much they sprayed, they couldn’t control the insects.”


Vincelli talked with some pesticide applicators and farm workers in the country who are still dealing with health problems due to the cotton boom and subsequent bust. The country lost much of its tropical forests, and some rivers still don’t have the amount of water in them that they had before the cotton boom.


Today, the country is pushing for a more agroecological approach to farming. Agroecology involves designing agricultural systems that are productive, profitable and conserve environmental resources. It also looks at potential technical, biological and socioeconomic effects of agricultural systems.


The cotton boom and bust is also used as an educational case-study in Nicaragua for college students studying business. Educators hope this will raise awareness among students that industry and business can suffer if the environment is allowed to degrade.


Vincelli will offer a study tour of the country in February for agents and other individuals interested in learning about the country, its history of farming practices and culture.


“Nicaragua provides powerful lessons in sustainability,” he said. “We should celebrate the fact that in America we do have environmental protections that allow us to grow the safest food possible.”



MEDIA CONTACT: Katie Pratt, 859-257-8774.

Summer Intensive at UK Gives Dancers a Step Up

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 15:15

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2014) — About 20 dancers gathered in the University of Kentucky dance studio June 9- 20 for the UK Summer Dance Intensive, a multidisciplinary dance program for experienced high school and college dance students and returning professionals who are serious about the dance field and eager to enhance their skills.


“Our goal is to help the dancer grow creatively through college-level contemporary modern dance, modern, jazz, ballet, body-conditioning, yoga, partnering, improvisation and choreography classes,” said Assistant Professor Susie Thiel, director of the UK Dance Program.


For its third consecutive year, the dance intensive drew such artists and educators as Ariella Brown, Stephanie Harris, Norbe Risco, Erik Rose and Thiel to teach 90-minute classes throughout the dancers’ 9 a.m.–4:30 p.m. work day.


Teaching jazz, modern and body conditioning was Ariella Brown, a native of Seattle, Washington.  She received her bachelor’s degree in dance from Point Park University, and a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance with emphasis in choreography and certificate in college teaching from the University of Arizona. Brown co-founded, directed and danced in a Seattle modern company, Sapience Dance. She also has toured her choreography throughout North America and was featured in DanceSpirit magazine.


Stephanie Harris, a guest artist at UK, taught modern dance and choreography. She has been an independent choreographer, performer and teacher for over 15 years. In 2010 she founded the Contemporary Dance Collective whose work focuses on interdisciplinary collaboration that fuses movement with other artistic disciplines to produce innovative and engaging performances.


Norbe Risco, who taught ballet, has served as artistic director of the Kentucky Ballet Theatre since 2001. In 2011, he received the Al Smith Award from the Kentucky Arts Council and has performed all over the world, working with various prestigious dancers.


Teaching and conducting yoga classes was Erik Rose who is a registered yoga teacher and gymnastics coach with a passion for slow, articulate movement as well as cultivating a strong, capable body.


Thiel, who taught every dance style, pulled the intensive together. She received her bachelor’s degree from Western Michigan University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance from the University of Michigan. Thiel lived in New York City for eight years where she performed, taught and choreographed in a broad range of venues. In addition, her musical theatre choreography for “The Days of ’98” show ran for three seasons in Skagway, Alaska, and most recently her choreography has been seen at the American College Dance Festival Association, the Seagle Music Colony’s production of "42nd Street" and the Cincinnati Fringe Festival.  


These artists helped the dancers strengthen their skills and grow, and for some dancers like Louisville, Kentucky, native, Natalie Miller, helped them explore new fields and aspects to their dance career.


Miller, daughter of Mark and Sally Miller, attends DuPont Manual High School and is in the Youth Performing Arts School (YPAS) for dance. Growing up and focusing her study primarily in ballet her whole life, Miller spent two weeks training in depth in dance styles such as improvisation and modern.


“My experience at the UK Summer Dance Intensive was so empowering. It taught me to be bold, creative and stretch my artistic edge," Miller said. "I am really excited to take what I have learned and apply it at YPAS. My teachers were so inspiring in a way that allowed all of the students to express themselves uniquely. The studio was an excellent arena to train and explore our various dance techniques. I would recommend this summer intensive to any serious dancer that wanted to enhance, develop and improve their skills. Overall I loved this intensive and will definitely be attending next year.” 


The dance intensive is limited to 25 students who show the required skills of four years of consistent ballet training and at least two years of either jazz, lyrical or modern dance. The students are expected to be well versed in dance terminology and should be proficient in moving in and out of the floor as well as turns and leaps.


Partial scholarships are available and awarded based on the required video audition and application. The audition process is a video featuring dancers performing a two-four minute solo piece showcasing their technique. A resumé including dance disciplines studied, teachers and schools, the number of years studied and performance experiences is also a part of the audition process along with a 500 word essay explaining the dancer's desire for attending the dance intensive, why the dancer should be chosen, and what the dancer hopes to gain from the summer dance intensive.


What's next? Thiel hopes to bring even more classes and programs for the dancers to experience and learn from next summer, such as having a nutritionist or physical therapist advise the dancers on ways to condition their bodies.


The UK Summer Dance Intensive is part of the dance minor at UK, which is rapidly growing from six students to more than 50 dancers in the program. The minor offers dance courses to enhance critical thinking, analytical skills, cooperation and teamwork, self-expression and self-esteem, organization and problem solving and cultural literacy. The dance program in the Department of Theatre and Dance was launched in 2011 with classes available in various levels of ballet, modern, jazz, musical theatre and more.


For more information about the UK Summer Dance Intensive or the Dance Program at UK, visit


The UK Department of Theatre and Dance at UK College of Fine Arts has played an active role in the performance scene in Central Kentucky for more than 100 years. Students in the program get hands-on training and one-on-one mentorship from a renowned professional theatre faculty. The liberal arts focus of their bachelor's degree program is coupled with ongoing career counseling to ensure a successful transition from campus to professional life.




MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

UK Delegation Teaches and Collaborates With Shanghai University

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 15:00

LEXINGTON, Ky. (May 27, 2014) — Last week, 15 UK faculty taught students at Shanghai University (SHU) in China through the UK Confucius Institute’s (UKCI) “UK Faculty China Short-Term Teaching Program,” which ran June 16-20.


The program fostered global literacy throughout UK’s multiple disciplines by embedding UK faculty members in SHU’s departments where they taught students for one week, met professional colleagues, identified shared research interests and gained key insights into China that they can then share with their students in Kentucky.


"Students need to know how knowledge is created, disseminated and used in a commercial and global environment of commerce," said Susan Carvalho, associate provost for internationalization. "By sending UK faculty from a broad range of disciplines to teach at Shanghai University – some of whom have never been to China – they will return with global experiences and perspectives that will be infused across campus.”


Following the teaching week, UK Provost Christine RiordanCollege of Arts & Sciences Dean Mark Kornbluh, College of Fine Arts Dean Michael Tick, Carvalho, and UKCI Director Huajing Maske joined the visiting UK faculty to celebrate “UK Week at SHU,” from June 23-27.


During “UK Week at SHU” members of the UK delegation are giving lectures providing Shanghai University faculty the opportunity to connect with UK’s disciplinary and academic expertise.


The UK Confucius Institute held a similar “UK Week” at Jilin University in Spring 2012. Seven UK deans led by Interim Provost Tim Tracy spent five days at Jilin University giving academic talks, and meeting with their counterparts to discuss collaborative opportunities.


The UK-JLU Collaborative Framework was established as a result of “UK Week” at Jilin University, which includes a 2+2 agreement and faculty exchange agreement with the Gatton College of Business and Economics; and a 4+2 agreement with the College of Public Health. Partnerships with UK’s Computer Science DepartmentCollege of Communication and Information and College of Arts & Sciences are still being negotiated.


“Based on our great success at Jilin, the UK faculty who are teaching at SHU this summer and our strategic partnership with SHU, we decided to hold another “UK Week” at SHU,” said Maske, “This week-long event will deepen our ties with SHU and provide a base for future research collaborations.” 


Maske is hoping “UK Week at SHU” will help UK faculty find opportunities to access research dollars that are available in China through collaborative research. “There are considerable resources that UK faculty can access in China that will help them fund their research, access data and increase opportunities to publish.”


Faculty teaching at Shanghai University this summer through the program are:

· Steven Paul Alvarez, assistant professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies;

· Rita Basuray, a visiting lecturer at UK College of Arts and Sciences;

· Anne Wehrley Björk, instructor in Design Workshop at UK School Art and Visual Studies;

· Lars G. Björk, professor in the Department of Educational Leadership Studies;

· Francie Chassen-López, Distinguished Professor of Arts and Sciences and Provost´s Distinguished Service Professor in UK Department of History;

· Julia M. Johnson, associate professor of English and director of the UK Creative Writing Program;

· Miles Osland, director of Jazz Studies and professor of saxophone;

· Kevin Real, associate professor of communications;

· Lynne K. Rieske-Kinney, associate professor of forest entomology;

· Buck Ryan, director of the Citizen Kentucky Project at UK’s Scripps Howard First Amendment Center and associate professor of journalism;  

· Mark Stuhlfaut, assistant professor in integrated strategic communications at UK School of Journalism and Telecommunications;

· Karen Tice, chair of the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies with a joint appointment in the Department of Educational Policy Studies;

· Ernest J. Yanarella, chair of the Political Science Department, associate director of the Center for Sustainable Cities and director of Environmental Studies Program; and

· Guoqiang Yu, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering.



For more information on each faculty member, visit


UK Design Alums Honored by Blue Grass Trust

Wed, 06/25/2014 - 10:51

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 26, 2014) — Six University of Kentucky College of Design alumni were honored for their efforts in historic preservation by the Blue Grass Trust (BGT) at the organization's Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony held June 22.


UK alumni honored by the trust included Executive Director of the Commonwealth of Kentucky Division of Historic Properties and State Curator David Buchta and architects Sarah House Tate, Robert Kelly, Scott Guyon, Jeff Pearson and Maureen Peters.


David Buchta, a 2005 graduate with a master's degree in historic preservation, received the BGT Public Service of Preservation Award. He oversaw the restoration and renovation of the Kentucky State Capitol Building and the Kentucky Governor’s Mansion, as well as the restoration of the Kentucky Old Governor’s Mansion.


Sarah House Tate, a 1971 graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture, and Robert Kelly, a 1982 graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture, each received the BGT Clay Lancaster Heritage Education Award for their research on the work of Lexington architect Ernst Johnson.


Scott Guyon, a 1983 graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture, converted a storage building into County Club restaurant. Jeff Pearson, a 1975 graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture, and Maureen Peters, a 1987 graduate with a bachelor's degree in architecture, adapted the former Central Kentucky Blue Grass Seed Co. into an office building being used by BC Wood Properties. Each received the Clyde Carpenter Adaptive Reuse Award for their designs. The adaptive reuse award is named for UK Professor Clyde Carpenter.


Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation serves as the region’s leading advocacy organization for all preservation related matters. Founded in 1955, it is the 14th oldest preservation organization in the United States. Since its formation, the BGT has endeavored to promote the public recognition and preservation of buildings, structures, neighborhoods, districts, areas and objects, which form the foundation of the Bluegrass region’s historic fabric.



MEDIA CONTACT: Whitney Hale, 859-257-8716;

WUKY's Phoenix Fridays Concert Series Opens June 27

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 18:39

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2014)WUKY's Phoenix Fridays, a new free outdoor summertime concert series presented by Bunbury and Buckle Up Music Festivals and WUKY, the University of Kentucky's NPR station, opens this Friday, June 27, in downtown Lexington.


The series, which offers concerts beginning at 5 p.m. every fourth Friday of June, July, August and September in Phoenix Park, will open this Friday with Dawn Landes, followed by headliner Simone Felice. 


According to the WUKY website, "New York-based singer-songwriter Dawn Landes uses traditional American roots and alternative folk elements in her music. Incorporating a variety of instruments, ranging from guitar and accordion to glockenspiel and Optigan, her songs have a sweet sounding indie-pop groove, colored by touches of bluegrass."


"Simone Felice translates tragedies and miracles into Americana stories and songs," says the website. "Inspired by two near-death experiences, Felice's solo debut is a meditation on life and death, but it's hardly his first foray into heavy subject matter: He's written poetry, published novels and played in several bands, including The Felice Brothers and The Duke and the King. It wasn't until he had a heart attack at 33, though, that Felice realized he needed to swallow his self-doubt and go solo."


Local food trucks will be onsite at Phoenix Park, located at the corner of Main Street and South Limestone in downtown Lexington.


"Enjoying live music and good food under the stars in Phoenix Park ― we hope to see you there!" said Mike Graves, music director at WUKY.


Produced by the Downtown Lexington Corporation, WUKY's Phoenix Fridays will feature local bands as the opening act, followed by nationally touring bands.


The schedule for the rest of the summer is:


5-9:30 p.m. Friday, July 25

Opening act – Small Batch

Headliner – Saintseneca


5-9:30 p.m. Friday, August 22

Opening act – Coralee and the Townies

Headliner – Ben Sollee


5-9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 26

Opening act – The Northside Sheiks

Headliner - TBA


Band details, interviews and videos can be accessed at


For more information contact WUKY’s Mike Graves at




MEDIA CONTACT:  Kathy Johnson,; 859-257-3155

UK-TLC Partnership Nurtures Promising Young Science Students

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 14:47

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2014) – Not all learning experiences are created equally – and at the Learning Center at Linlee, an innovative partnership with the University of Kentucky College of Medicine allows young students to get rich, hands-on experience in the sciences and better their chances of succeeding in college and beyond.


As part of the Fayette County Public School System, The Learning Center (TLC) is an alternative school for at-risk students who are facing personal challenges that might impede their ability to learn. These include socioeconomic factors, and, perhaps surprisingly, intellectual giftedness. Students may struggle inside a traditional classroom because the learning style or pace isn't matched to their capabilities.  


At TLC, the teaching style is adaptable, says Scott Diamond, a TLC science teacher and adjunct assistant professor of physiology at UK.


"I have the freedom to try whatever it takes to make it work," Diamond said. "And I have the freedom to stop when it doesn't work."


Through the new UK-TLC Partnership, Diamond and his colleagues at TLC and the UK College of Medicine are able to offer a truly immersive experience for students looking for a career in the sciences – the chance to work with college faculty and trainees to gain experience working in a real laboratory on real-world problems.


A chance meeting brought the UK-TLC Partnership to life – Diamond met up with UK's Anthony Sinai, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics, and Luke Bradley, associate profesor of anatomy and neurobiology, who were both looking for ways to provide undergraduates and high school students with meaningful research experiences.


"We wanted to allow them an opportunity to learn something different, but that's also meaningful and real science, rather than repetitive work," Sinai said.


At TLC, students are able to conduct their own experiments with guidance from their teachers. They come to UK several days per month, where they elevate their experiments using more sophisticated equipment and procedures in the university's labs. Working on their projects with both UK faculty and student instructors, the TLC students are given the chance to perform at a high level and to form relationships with real scientists.


"What we're really trying to do is take at-risk kids and treat them like the gifted individuals they are, like grad students," Diamond said.


At the same time, the closeness in age between the TLC students and their UK student mentors allows for a closer bond, says Jessica Gambrel, an agriculture biotechnology major who works in Bradley's lab. Gambrel and Elizabeth Watts, a technician in the Sinai laboratory, are both the first in their families to attend college – serving as ideal near-peer role models to the TLC students

"I can work with them and say, this is how we do these things, sure, let's mix some plates to grow some bacteria," Gambrel said. "But also, I think they can come to me and say, 'I'm really nervous about college, do you have any advice about applying?' Things like that."


TLC's overall student population is nearly 200 of Fayette County’s most at-risk students, and this year's inaugural class of the UK-TLC Partnership saw three students earn their coveted white coats. As a TLC science teacher, Diamond recruits students into the partnership, looking for kids who show an interest and passion for science. While there's room to grow the program, the classes will remain small to give each student the individualized attention he or she deserves.


Newly graduated TLC student Ceaser Lynch has already become an undergraduate summer researcher in Sinai’s lab at UK. He'll be attending UK as a freshman in the fall, and will experience a role reversal when he continues working for UK-TLC from the mentoring side. He describes the program as a "family" atmosphere that helps prepare its students for a brighter future.


"It's more personalized," Lynch said. "They're trying to build you up to the career you want to go into."


The TLC students aren't the only ones who benefit from this partnership. Bradley notes that playing the role of mentor is beneficial to both parties involved.


"The greatest way to learn is by teaching," he said. "And so our students at UK will actually become much stronger in the lab through this exposure to teaching the high school students at TLC."


Bessie Guerrant of the UK's Office of Undergraduate Research and the UK College of Medicine Dean’s Office have provided support for the school's laboratory in the form of supplies and equipment – much of it surplus that would otherwise be sold for scrap. The laboratory space at TLC was recently dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony presided on by Rebecca Dutch, the UK College of Medicine's Associate Dean for Biomedical Education, cementing what promises to be a long-term relationship benefiting both TLC and UK.  


Overall, the goal of the UK-TLC Partnership is to foster an appetite in the science fields for many students who may have otherwise felt such a career was beyond their reach. Inspiring young minds to keep asking questions and stay hungry for knowledge is a big part of what motivates the faculty to continue to push and improve the new partnership.


"I think the important thing to realize here is that by providing opportunities to students, it's incredibly enriching to see the spark where perhaps we saw the spark in ourselves 25 or 30 years ago," Sinai said. "When you see that, it's quite invigorating, and reminds us why we are doing this in the first place."



To view captions for this video, push play and click on the CC icon in the bottom right hand corner of the screen. If using a mobile device, click on the "thought bubble" in the same area.


MEDIA CONTACT: Allison Perry, (859) 323-2399 or

UK CAFE Alumni Plaza Celebrates College Mission

Tue, 06/24/2014 - 13:00

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2014) — Everyone agreed; the approach to W.P. Garrigus Building had seen better days. Well, better days are here again, with the completion of the new College of Agriculture, Food and Environment Alumni Plaza.


University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto, CAFE Dean Nancy Cox and former dean Scott Smith were on hand June 24 to cut the ribbon. Also included in the dedication ceremony were Kevin Kreide, Physical Plant Division director; Boyd Sewe, landscape architecture student; and Ramona Fry, principal at element design and project manager for the plaza renovation. Fry and design team members, Liz Piper and Mark Arnold are alumni of the college’s Department of Landscape Architecture.


“The completion of our Alumni Plaza is cause for celebration — celebration of our college alumni, celebration of our students and celebration of our threefold land-grant mission of teaching, research and extension,” Cox said.


The diversity, beauty and seasonality of Kentucky’s agriculture inspired the plaza’s design. The plantings, in raised beds, are not just aesthetically pleasing, but have the practical function of providing spatial separation and controlling surface runoff. Along with agricultural plantings, a “demo forest” was planted, using 13 potentially blight-resistant sapling American chestnut trees 1.0 and 50 pure American chestnuts, which have started to sprout from planted nuts. The trees were donated by The American Chestnut Foundation, which has a breeding program that strives to restore the American chestnut to the Appalachian Mountains.


Fry told the gathered crowd that the plaza is now “a place that provides for outdoor classrooms, learning, socialization and research, with a meaningful investment in stewardship and greening our campus. It’s a place for large gatherings and for small, everyday conversations, a place to meet colleagues and make lifelong friends. It’s a place that celebrates the environment of education.”


The idea to renovate the space came from Kreide, who thought a revitalized plaza could make an important difference to that part of the college. He and now-retired Vice President for UK Facilities Management Bob Wiseman kept the door open for local firms to submit innovative designs for the plaza. The selection committee unanimously approved element design’s vision, saying it successfully reflected the image of UK and the college. Now that the work is done, Kreide believes the nine-month construction process was worth it.


“I think it's outstanding. It's money well spent. It's going to be a place that students, staff and faculty can enjoy and take pride in and use everyday,” he said.


For Fry, Piper and Arnold, the opportunity to give back to the college that gave them so much as undergraduates is something they’ll always value.


“To stand today in this vibrant, beautiful Alumni Plaza is both wonderful and humbling. The opportunity to help transform this place, to give something back of ourselves and our education here, where it all happened, is beyond measure. We are honored to be a part of this experience,” Fry said.

Apply to be a Faculty Fellow for Presentation U!

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 16:57

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 25, 2014) — Presentation U!, the University of Kentucky's Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), has just released the application for Cohorts 2 and 3 of its Faculty Fellows program.  This program is designed to help faculty implement multimodal communication instructional materials into their courses and curricula. 


"After several years of working with faculty, staff, and students across the UK campus, first, to select a QEP topic and then to develop a plan for implementing it, I am so excited to be launching the actual program," said Deanna Sellnow, interim director of the Presentation U! Initiative. "Presentation U! will provide important consulting services to help faculty integrate multimodal communication instruction and assignments into their courses, as well as tutoring support services to help students create and refine their assignments into products they can be proud of."


In April 2013, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) approved Presentation U! as the university's QEP, which is one of 12 core requirements the university takes on to reaffirm its accreditation through SACS. The overall goal of Presentation U! is to improve all students' presentation and communication skills across various platforms. The intention is to improve the student learning experience with a focus on developing integrated oral, written, visual, and multimedia communication skills, while also offering a unique service to faculty in developing opportunities in their courses for students to learn these skills.  


Presentation U! is now housed in the Division of Undergraduate Education and is reaching across the university to serve. 


The Faculty Fellows program is an important component of Presentation U!, as the fellows will get help from multimodal communication experts on developing necessary instructional modules, assignments and grading rubrics that they can integrate into their courses.  They will also get help preparing and using rubrics to evaluate and assess their students' work as they integrate these components into upper division courses for their majors.


To apply to be a Faculty Fellow, visit

High School Sophomores 'GEAR UP' to Become Future UK Students

Mon, 06/23/2014 - 16:51

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 24, 2014) — This week, 85 high school sophomores from across the Commonwealth will begin living and learning on the University of Kentucky campus for three weeks as part of the GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy@UK. In partnership with the Council on Postsecondary Education and the UK Division of Undergraduate Education, this college and career readiness initiative aims to develop a college transition path to UK for the students by showcasing the skills and attitudes needed to succeed at the state's premier research university.


"Our highest priority is the success of our students," said UK President Eli Capilouto. "By partnering with the CPE on the GEAR UP Summer Academy, Kentucky high school students are exposed early to college life so they can better prepare for advanced coursework."


For UK, GEAR UP marks the first time a high school preparation program will be linked with the university's innovative general education programming, UK CORE.  During the three week period, UK faculty will manage the program through UK CORE student learning outcomes: all students are taking general studies courses that include research skills, information literacy, argumentative writing and public speaking, visual literacy, digital citizenship, video editing and web publishing.  Laurie Henry, professor in the UK College of Education and director of the College Readiness P20 Innovation Lab, is managing the students' daily schedules that will reflect a typical UK student's schedule, as well as provide opportunities for interactions with UK faculty, staff and students.


All participating students will also have the opportunity to earn digital badges in elective courses that are modeled on undergraduate courses taught at UK, potentially leading toward a dual-credit program. Documenting student acheivement and college preparation through the use of digital badges marks another first for the university.  


"Thanks to support from UK colleges and student success areas, we are able to offer an extremely innovative and diverse experience for the GEAR UP students," said Ben Withers, associate provost for undergraduate education. "This is the result of several years of intense discussions on campus about college preparation, and the innovative link of the summer courses to UK CORE will allow these students a better understanding of what college is like and, most importantly, demonstrate that they can succeed when they come to UK or go to the college of their choice."


The students attending the GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy were recommended and supported by their principals, teachers and guidance counselors for having strong potential to succeed in college with the necessary preparation.


About GEAR UP Kentucky

The GEAR UP Kentucky Summer Academy program was created to help students develop the skills needed for college and career success and create the opportunity to visualize themselves as a future college student. The program is provided at no cost for the students and their families, and includes the following three components:

  • General Studies Core Courses: Courses focused on building research, reading, writing, and communication skills.
  • Focus Areas: Courses that give students an in-depth, hands-on experience in a particular field including agriculture, engineering, science, fine arts, global studies, business and economics, etc.
  • Cafe College: Interactive evening sessions in the residence hall that focus on the everyday life of the college student.

For more information about the program, visit




MEDIA CONTACT: Jenny Wells, 859-257-5343;