Tuesday July 22, 2014
This year, I’ve been honored to participate in the Leadership Kentucky program.
It’s a six-month program in which educational, civic, business and political leaders come together for two days each month in a different region of our Commonwealth.
We seek a deeper understanding of our state: both its incredible promise and its challenge. We also are afforded the opportunity meet and hear from some of Kentucky’s brightest leaders about how they are working to create a more promising future.
I’ve spent two days with more than 40 leaders at Jabez, a facility UK’s extension service operates more than two hours southeast of here. Together, we discussed issues. We explored our state’s history. And we engaged in team-building exercises, designed to help us learn more about each other and to understand more fully how challenging it is to work together.
Yesterday and today, I am attending the Kentucky Chamber Business Summit and Annual Meeting in Louisville. As the theme of the summit is "the Future of Kentucky," sessions include topics such as Kentucky’s path to economic and workforce competitiveness, the future of the nine economic regions in Kentucky, and national and Kentucky politics, among many other interesting topics. I have really enjoyed these two days talking about the issues facing our Commonwealth and our future plans.
One thing already stands out to me. I’ve gained an even deeper appreciation for our community — the University of Kentucky. It is so evident that we touch and reach every corner of the Commonwealth. Our impact is profound. The respect for our institution and the work of our students, faculty and staff is immeasurable.
We are making Kentucky a better place. I’m so honored to learn from these bright leaders; I’m excited about the future of our state. And I’m always gratified to learn more about our impact because of the work we do together.
All the best,
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
One of my favorite things about summer is the opportunity it affords to take a brief step back to reflect on the progress we are making, together, in so many different areas.
This summer we have followed our students' blogs about their adventures abroad, celebrated large and meaningful research grants and read about faculty members' work in national media publications. These accomplishments, -- just a few examples of all that is happening on our campus -- highlight the indispensable role our institution plays in our state and nation.
Nelson Mandela said that "education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." With that powerful imperative in mind, I like to reflect on the compelling examples taking place across our campus of how the members of the UK family, particularly our students, are doing just that: changing the world.
Last week, we recognized several students who received a variety of prestigious scholarships, internships and fellowships acknowledging their excellence in the classroom, in research and in extracurricular activities. In the 2013-14 school year alone, UK students earned 11 more national awards than the previous year, including a prized Truman Scholarship and two Goldwater Scholarships.
The awards are meaningful in and of themselves.
But what they signify is even more important.
For example, I had the opportunity and honor earlier this year to meet Grace Trimble at a UK Board of Trustees meeting. Grace is a political science junior and UK Women's Tennis Team member who received the prestigious Truman Scholarship; these awards recognize outstanding leadership and devotion to public service. She was among the 59 scholars nationwide selected by the Truman Foundation from 655 candidates.
As a teenager, Grace began a nonprofit organization, Lexington Tennis Club Smart Shots. Throughout her time at UK studying politics, nonprofits and public service, she used her undergraduate research experience to design and implement a survey gauging the effectiveness of her organization.
Grace's passion and devotion to serving others exemplifies how seeing blue empowers individuals to make tangible differences in the world.
Grace is not alone in this pursuit; 35 students received major nationally competitive honors this school year. Two students, Matthew Fahrbach, of Louisville, Ky., and Samuel Saarinen, of Shelbyville, Ky., received Goldwater Scholarships. Three UK students received NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program awards, and 12 undergraduate students were selected to participate in the NSF Research Experience for Undergraduates program. They will travel across the country to conduct research in fields ranging from political science to engineering.
In receiving these awards, these students are already using their gifts to push the boundaries of discovery and make a difference in their communities.
I'm very proud. But none of us are satisfied.
I know we all can't wait to see how these remarkable students continue to change the world and what we, as an institution, can accomplish together next year.
All the best,
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
The campus may seem a bit quieter this summer, but the work of our faculty -- here and around the globe is continuing in fascinating -- and pathbreaking -- ways.
In fact, one of the things that makes UK special is the way that our researchers push the boundaries of discovery through collaborative, multidisciplinary projects every day. And that work by our faculty is meaningful, too, for our students.
As one of only eight institutions in the country with the full range of academic, professional and health care programs on one campus, UK offers distinctive opportunities for students to customize their education in ways that help them compete in a global economy.
This past week, many of you may have read of the work of William Endres, a researcher working across, and blending, disciplines in compelling ways.
Endres is an assistant professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies. His digital humanities project focuses on digitizing early medieval manuscripts.
Because of his efforts, ancient texts -- at risk of being lost -- are being made available to scholars worldwide, without compromising conservatory efforts necessary for preservation.
In 2010, Endres created a 3D digital copy of the medieval St. Chad Gospel. He will return to England this summer to continue his project.
The Herald-Leader featured Endres' work earlier this week. You can find that here: http://www.kentucky.com/2014/07/03/3321747/university-of-kentucky-scholar.html
His work is another example, among many, if the extraordinary work happening at UK every day across disciplines. Such work is the future of research and of education. At UK, we are at the leading edge of many of those efforts.
All the best,
July 1, 2014
The campus has recently sprung to life again with thousands of young people — the newest members of the UK family — visiting the university for the first time as new students.
It’s all part of see blue. U — a two-day orientation for new students and their families where they can learn everything they need to know about their first year at the University of Kentucky. Over the next few weeks, students and families will get an intense, fast-paced and in-depth look at what they need to know before they officially move to UK in August.
From navigating parking to understanding student code of conduct and the all-important process of registering for classes, see blue. U is designed to help our newest students, and their extended families, get a feel for what it will be like when they begin their studies this fall.
It’s terrific to see the campus abuzz with students and their families. We are expecting a record first-year class again this fall — another sign of the momentum UK has in becoming one of the handful of thriving, public residential research campuses in America.
Students and families are excited about the new living and learning spaces being constructed on campus as well as the distinctive opportunities afforded at UK across more than 200 majors with faculty who are leaders in their respective fields.
It’s a reminder of why we are here. We are an institution that places students first. A campus full of new students — the best and brightest in our state and region — is an exciting and compelling reminder of that fact.
All the best,
June 24, 2014
This past week, I had the pleasure of "seeing global" on the other side of the world: from Beijing to Changchun, to Shanghai.
Associate Provost for Internationalization Susan Carvalho and I travelled throughout China, meeting up with UK faculty, and visiting partner universities and institutions in the region. I was humbled to witness firsthand the power of UK's global partnerships, the leadership of our faculty members, and the true difference this collaboration makes in education and research for us and for our partners.
We recently deepened our ties with Chinese universities by establishing the Office of China Initiatives here on campus, to provide greater coordination, consistency and focus for UK's work in China. Faculty members across campus have expressed a need to maintain and enhance UK's strategic partnership efforts in China. This trip aimed to further enhance these efforts.
Our visits began in Beijing at the Ministry of Education, where we met with Fang Jun, the Deputy Director General of International Cooperation and Exchanges. We discussed the importance of student mobility, and in particular of opening up opportunities for UK students to study in China. He encouraged us to strengthen our ties with the Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C., and he spoke about the current shift in higher education policy in China, away from rapid growth and toward quality enhancement and international alignment.
We then travelled to Changchun, the location of Jilin University, and like UK, Jilin University is a large comprehensive institution that includes several health care colleges. This creates numerous opportunities for research and teaching collaborations between our two institutions.
Jilin University President Li Yuanyuan and I signed the Collaborative Framework Agreement, which opens up discussion between our universities on developing leaders in a global community. President Capilouto first visited Jilin University two years ago, and we are now seeing the fruits of our relationship. Along with the Collaborative Framework, we signed an agreement with Construction Engineering, as well as finalized our agreements in Public Health and Business. We began conversations for collaborations in Medical Physics, Radiation Medicine, and Computer Science. Our two universities have a long friendship ahead of them.
At Shanghai University, we celebrated UK Week, where fourteen of our UK faculty were teaching SHU students. Shanghai University is also hosting a group of UK students studying Chinese (led by UK's professor Matt Wells), and a group of Kentucky high school students sponsored by the UK Confucius Institute. With Shanghai University President Luo Hongjie, we discussed the importance of strategic planning, intellectual exchange, and our shared values, especially as regards the importance of global networks and the transnational sharing of ideas.
I am so very grateful to the Executive Director of our Office of China Initiatives and Director of the Confucius Institute, Dr. Huajing Maske, for arranging these valuable conversations. I'm also even more aware of the leadership provided by our faculty across campus, in strengthening our win-win relationships abroad. These collaborations allow us to promote global awareness and literacy on our campus, while also furthering our research efforts and providing opportunities for faculty and students on both sides.
It was a wonderful week.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Over the past year, I've had the privilege of recognizing the outstanding efforts of faculty members across our campus, time and time again. It never gets old.
The close of the spring semester confirmed more than ever to me in a deeply profound way that people make the place — from teaching that changes and touches lives to research that can transform communities and heal families. The last few weeks have seen a flurry of announcements of grants related to research mission. But it’s the people behind those grants and those numbers that demonstrate the special place that is the University of Kentucky.
Three examples of faculty — among so many — highlight what I mean.
Lisa Cassis, chair of the Department of Pharmacology and newly named interim UK vice president for research, and Alison Gustafson, assistant professor in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition, were among the participants selected for the 2014 SEC Symposium in Atlanta, Sept. 21-23.
The symposium is titled "Prevention of Obesity: Overcoming a 21st Century Public Health Challenge." Researchers at this symposium aim to identify solutions to this tremendously challenging issue, focusing on a range of topics from genetics, to technology and media, to environmental influences.
I was honored to introduce Dr. Cassis last fall, when we received one of the largest health grants ever made to our institution: an $11.3 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant supporting research focusing on obesity and cardiovascular disease. Dr. Cassis serves as the program director of this grant, which supports the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) focused on obesity and cardiovascular diseases.
Each time I meet with Dr. Cassis, I'm reminded of and moved by her dedication to fighting obesity, a problem that too many Kentuckians unfortunately confront.
Another faculty member whose efforts and dedication move me is Dr. Jayakrishna Ambati, professor and vice chair of Ophthalmology and Visual Sciences in the UK College of Medicine. He has been named one of 14 recipients of the 2014 SEC Faculty Achievement Awards, an honor recognizing one faculty member from every SEC university who demonstrates outstanding records of teaching, research and scholarship.
I recently had the privilege of touring his lab, and left it deeply impressed with all that he is doing as a national leader in the fight against macular degeneration — a scourge that confronts millions of Americans.
Achievements such as these showcase and renew our commitment to our state and our nation. As the Commonwealth's indispensable institution, we work each day to improve the lives of our fellow citizens. These three individuals personify that commitment.
As I said, recognizing outstanding members of the UK family never gets old. I'm very grateful for the hard work occurring across our campus by so many people in so many ways that serve our state and our world.
All the best,
When we kicked off our “see tomorrow.” strategic planning process last December, we were dedicated to ensuring that our 103-person planning committee was diverse. Faculty, staff, and students from all 16 Colleges and the Libraries were represented, and our committee was almost equally divided between men and women. To ensure that this diverse group was supported and nurtured by committee leadership, one of the criteria that we used to select our co-chairs was a heartfelt commitment to inclusivity.
The results were astounding. At the end of the process, one of our co-chairs told me that he had watched one of his group members transform before his eyes. She had blossomed from someone who was almost exclusively focused on her area of expertise to someone with a broad and campus-wide viewpoint. She had become a vocal advocate for the inclusion of all perspectives in her group’s discussions and decision-making process, asking questions and seeking counsel from people from a wide variety of disciplines.
A commitment to inclusion has been integrated throughout the planning process, and the committee has been tirelessly dedicated to serving the Commonwealth by being a model of an inclusive community. In the documents that they have composed, our committee has written of the importance of “bringing broad world views into our campus community, integrating those views and experiences thoughtfully and holistically, and creating a welcoming campus environment that is inclusive of people of all identities.”
Inspired by this great work, I recently wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review about the importance of creating an inclusive atmosphere in which all people feel respected and have access to the same opportunities. I hope that you’ll take a few minutes to read it and share your thoughts and questions with me. Here’s the link: http://blogs.hbr.org/2014/06/diversity-is-useless-without-inclusivity/ .
All the best,
P.S. Find me on Twitter @UKYProvost!
As you know, the University of Kentucky is committed to promoting the advancement of women on our campus. To support this important commitment, I created the Women’s Leadership and Career Development Task Force. The purpose of the Task Force is threefold:
1. To help identify career and development opportunities for women faculty and executive staff;
2. To help promote the visibility and acknowledgement of women’s contributions on campus; and,
3. To help create an understanding of the status of women on campus.
Twenty-five faculty and administrative officials from throughout campus comprise the Task Force membership. These individuals are aggressively gathering data and conducting meetings in the search for recommending sustainable ways to advance women at the University of Kentucky. This effort is consistent with many of the initiatives discussed in development of our new institutional strategic plan.
I encourage each and every one to learn more about the work of the Women’s Leadership and Career Development Task Force by visiting their website at www.uky.edu/provost/resources-uk-women .To share your ideas, to ask questions, or to simply provide feedback beneficial to Task Force members an e-mail address is established for your convenience, firstname.lastname@example.org .
I plan to periodically provide updates to keep you abreast of the work of the Women’s Leadership and Career Development Task Force, and request your full support.