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Our Outstanding Alumni: A UK Story on the Mississippi River

Wed, 07/29/2015 - 02:57

Wednesday, July 29, 2015 


Maya Angelou said that her mission in life was “not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style.”


At the University of Kentucky, we have the tremendous privilege of supporting our students, faculty, staff and alumni as they nurture their passions, act with compassion and make a positive impact on the world.


One of our alumni is doing just that—using her skills and interests to make her mark on the world—with a particular amount of style.


(The following appeared on UKNow)


University of Kentucky alumna Alyssum Pohl, a 2004 biology graduate and former Gaines Fellow, recently embarked on a journey sea kayaking the Mississippi River while documenting water pollution. The journey is a self-motivated effort to increase awareness about the health of our rivers and oceans. 


By completing this project, Pohl, 35, will set a world record as the youngest woman to solo kayak the Mississippi River. You can follow her progress on her blog and Facebook page, which she set up to chronicle her experience.  


The trip will take Pohl an estimated three months. She started her trek June 27, in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, the base of the Mississippi River, and will end it in the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans, 2,552 miles downstream. Pohl is calling the project "Paddle On!" which references her verve to continue making a positive difference in the world, despite constant challenges. 


While this expedition involves setting up camp nightly, portaging her vessel around 29 locks and dams, avoiding the fast-moving barges and ships in the lower Mississippi and paddling against the wind, Pohl goes beyond simple exploration with this project. With degrees and work experience in science and policy, Pohl will be recording both qualitative (story, photos, video) and quantitative (such as pH, temperature, turbidity, dissolved oxygen) water quality measures, and will share her process and results for educational purposes. John Sullivan, a retired water quality biologist from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, paddled the Mississippi recording water quality, and Pohl will be repeating his methodology.


Over the past two years, Pohl, who earned her master's degree in international environmental policy, worked on coastal resiliency issues as one of three National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Digital Coast Fellows. This background provided her with rare insight into understanding what local, state and federal elected officials, and natural resource manager's deal with, and their level of understanding the environmental problems they face.


Pohl has arranged collaboration with artists, scientists and legislators to ensure that "Paddle On!" is worthwhile to a variety of communities and interests. For instance, Lindsey Wohlman, a sculptor from Lafayette, Colorado, looks forward to receiving some of the plastic waste that Pohl cleans from the river, with which she will create ocean-inspired sculptures.


At UK, Pohl was a member of the Honors Program and participated in the Emerging Leader Institute. As part of her Gaines Fellowship, the magna cum laude graduate completed a thesis titled "Girning and its cultural relevance."


Please join me in congratulating this inspiring member of the UK family and wishing her god speed.



Timothy S. Tracy


Research Serving Kentucky and Beyond

Thu, 07/16/2015 - 04:42
Thursday, July 16, 2015 Our research and scholarly endeavors offer the brightest hope for transformation and change for our Commonwealth and the broader world we serve. A team of faculty members and graduate students in the College of Pharmacy, led by Dr. Peixuan Guo, recently demonstrated research’s power to positively change lives, receiving well-deserved recognition in the press for their work. One of the most vexing problems in the development of drugs is drug resistance. This study, published in Nanomedicine, suggests a new approach to develop highly-potent drugs which could overcome current shortcomings of low drug efficacy and multi-drug resistance in the treatment of cancer as well as viral and bacterial infections. Dr. Guo's study has identified a new mechanism of efficiently inhibiting biological processes that are critical to the function of the disease-causing organism, such that resistance is minimized or eliminated. As Dr. Guo has explained, inhibiting multisubunit targets works in a similar way to the series-circuit Christmas decorating light chains; one broken bulb turns off the entire lighting system. By targeting RNA or protein subunits that have multiple sites for inactivation, but that are inextricably linked, this method allows for killing or disabling the RNA or protein without requiring the inhibition of multiple pathways that might be used by the organism to remain active and viable (and thus, multiple drugs are not needed, as well).  Using this method, a single subunit targeting to the target RNA or protein subunits that is unique and assenting for the organism, the organism will be disabled or die and thus, no longer able to cause disease. Dr. Guo is the director of UK's Nanobiotechnology Center and one of the top nanobiotechnology experts in the world. Guo holds a joint appointment at the UK Markey Cancer Center and in the UK College of Pharmacy. He focuses much of his work on the use of ribonucleic acid (RNA) nanoparticles and a viral nano-motor to fight cancer, viral infections and genetic diseases. He is also well-known for his pioneering work of constructing RNA nanoparticles as drug carriers. Guo's research team also includes Dan Shu, Farzin Haque, Mario Vieweger, Fengmei Pi, Hui Zhang, Yi Shu, Chi Wang, Peng Zhang, Ashwani Sharma, Taek Lee and more than 10 graduate students. This important work has received a great deal of media coverage. You can read more about it at the following links:   Timothy S. Tracy@UKYProvost 

The Inaugural Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Award

Wed, 07/08/2015 - 08:50

Wednesday, July 8, 2015


Later today, I will have the pleasure of celebrating a member of the UK family—one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon.


The National Archives and the University of Kentucky Libraries Wendell H. Ford Public Policy Research Center will give the inaugural Earle C. Clements Innovation in Education Award to 1996 UK College of Education graduate Timothy A. Peterson, a history teacher at Taylor County High School in Campbellsville, Kentucky. The award will be presented by U.S. Archivist David S. Ferriero.


The ceremony will take place at 3 p.m., at the Special Collections Research Center, in the Margaret I. King Library Building. A reception will immediately follow the event.


On behalf of UK Libraries, I invite and encourage the community to attend this exciting event.


The Clements Award honors the life and career of the late Earle C. Clements and his lifelong commitment to education and public service. Clements’ political career included service as a county sheriff, clerk and judge; terms in the state senate and as governor; and terms in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate, where he was a close colleague to future President Lyndon Baines Johnson.


High school history and/or civics (social studies) teachers throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky who demonstrated a teacher’s knowledge of, and enthusiasm for, the subject and commitment to increasing student awareness of the importance of public service; expertise in civics and history content and the ability to share it with students; impact on student success; and evidence of creativity and innovation, were eligible to apply for the Clements Award that was selected by an independent review panel.


As part of the ceremony, National Archivist David S. Ferriero will speak. Ferriero was confirmed as 10th Archivist of the United States on Nov. 6, 2009. Previously, he served as the Andrew W. Mellon Director of the New York Public Libraries (NYPL). Ferriero was part of the leadership team responsible for integrating the four research libraries and 87 branch libraries into one seamless service for users, creating the largest public library system in the United States and one of the largest research libraries in the world. He was in charge of collection strategy; conservation; digital experience; reference and research services; and education, programming and exhibitions.


Among Ferriero's responsibilities at the NYPL was the development of the library’s digital strategy, which currently encompasses partnerships with Google and Microsoft, a website that reaches more than 25 million unique users annually, and a digital library of more than 750,000 images that may be accessed free of charge by any user around the world.


Please join me in congratulating Timothy A. Peterson. I look forward to celebrating him with our community this afternoon.



Timothy S. Tracy


Fascinating Research that Speaks to the Power of Collaboration

Wed, 07/01/2015 - 08:28

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


At the University of Kentucky, our work is deeply rooted in a sense of community and in a spirit of partnership; we know that working together is the best way to address complex challenges.


It’s wonderful to see the impact this partnership and collaboration has upon our community members, our faculty and our students. It’s a great pleasure of mine to share these stories.


Take as an example, among many, Computer Science professor Brent Seales’ research. Seales and his team of undergraduate research assistants contributed to an international collaboration to decipher and analyze 2,000-year-old scrolls, using an innovative computer software tool. The group traveled to Paris, France this summer to work with a world-renowned papyrologist, who is learning to use the software, and to present their work at Google Paris, where Seales was a visiting scientist in 2012.


I encourage you to read more about this fascinating research and the wonderful learning opportunities for our students.




In the 18th century, researchers attempting to read the writings of ancient, charred scrolls picked and pulled at the fragile artifacts, destroying many. Fast forward to 2015 and researchers are developing a superior method, one that never unrolls or even attempts to open the scrolls.


Leaving it intact almost exactly as it was 2,000 years ago, scanning methods and a new first-of-its-kind computer software tool are currently working to reveal text from a Herculaneum scroll. The scroll, carbonized by the A.D. 79 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, was preserved with hundreds of others in the only library from antiquity to survive.


The "Volume Cartographer" software tool, built by Brent Seales, professor and chair of the University of Kentucky Department of Computer Science, and his team, will allow researchers to map (hence "cartographer") the surface of the scroll and then allow the user to pull out pages and scan for letters. Revolutionary in more ways than one, the software is made to be user-friendly for scholars, not only computer scientists.


"It's really about what we can enable scholars to do," said Seth Parker, project manager and video production coordinator for the Center for Visualization and Virtual Environments. "We want to create a pipeline that we can actually give to historians, classicists, the people who want to study these texts, and enable them to unlock their own artifacts."


A project of this caliber undoubtedly requires top-notch research assistants. That's why Seales employed a group of UK undergraduate students to work on the software, which is part of an international collaboration to read the scroll.


"The caliber of talented undergraduates at the University of Kentucky is outstanding," Seales said. "It has been tremendously exciting for me to see the innovative and mature contributions that our students are making to the project."


In May, the team experienced the scope of the project firsthand when they traveled to Paris, France, to collaborate with a world-renowned papyrologist, who is learning to use the software, and to present their work at Google Paris, where Seales was a visiting scientist in 2012. (Experience the students' adventure in Paris by watching the video above.)


"I think it's a great honor," said Nick Graczyk about the Google "Tech Talk." Graczyk is a recent UK computer science graduate and soon-to-be Microsoft software engineer who has focused on the software pipeline. Like the other team members, he was an undergraduate when he began working on the project.


"The fact that we were selected to work on this project and then go and present our research to them … it's a really great honor," he continued.


The software tool has rapidly progressed this semester, often overcoming many technological challenges they had never faced before, the group explained to a room of Googlers.


"What we get from the scanning machine is just a big brick of data," said Michael Roup, recent computer science and mathematics graduate and UK Presidential Scholar, in the presentation. "And we have to find the pages inside of that."


To do that, the software utilizes a number of tactics, including particle chain region growing, segmentation and texture (UV) mapping.


How does it work? Imagine a newspaper rolled up. From the viewpoint of looking through the hole, layers of pages are visible. From that same viewpoint using a scan of the scroll, the software user can see hundreds of layers, only not as perfectly tubular as the newspaper.


Then the user draws a line on what they think to be a single layer in the scroll. The software follows that line through the width of the scroll to pull out a page. From there, the user can "texture" the page, a significant step as each scroll page is a 3D, uneven surface. After texturing, the page flattens into a 2D equivalent and from there the user can see if words are present on the page. 


But perhaps the most interesting feature of the software is the "sand grain detector," mapping out "sand grain constellations" and using grains like stars to orient where the user is at in the scroll. Since the scroll is carbonized, the grains should never move.


"Before this project started we didn't even know those grains existed," Seales said. "Now it may turn out that sand grains are the unique signature."


Following the Tech Talk, the team joined Google employees at lunch, where the lead software engineer of the Google Cultural Institute congratulated the students on their presentation and impressive work.


While it may be at the top of their list, sharing their work with one of the world's largest tech companies was not the only highlight of the students' excursion. They were also granted access to view up close a scroll in the Herculaneum collection, housed in the library of the Institut de France, famous for its five national academies and for its preservation of the Bibliotheque Mazarine, the oldest public library in France.


The scroll, similar to others in the collection, resembled a lump of charcoal. But in person, the lines of the papyrus surface were clearly visible and so too were the tightly coiled layers of the scroll, much like the layers of a tree trunk.


"It was eye-opening," said Abigail Coleman, a computer science graduate student and former NASA intern who has focused on UV mapping. "Being able to see the scroll kind of gives you more purpose for your work. ..."


Adjacent to the library were the meeting chambers of the French Academy of Sciences, founded in 1666 by King Louis XIV, where the students carefully perused the walls displaying busts of each academy officer, including Napoleon.


They also experienced European history through the ages when they visited the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Sacre-Coeur Basilica, followed by the Palace of Versailles, Luxembourg Gardens and Notre-Dame Cathedral.


"I’ve always had a little bit of an interest in history so this is really a good project for me to work on," said Melissa Shankle, who was a freshman this past year and analyzed the software from a user perspective. "It's been a great experience that I never thought I would do as a freshman."


Now back home in their Davis Marksbury Building lab, Seales and Parker, as well as Coleman and Roup, who are working on the project through the summer, will attempt to produce an entire page of text from the scroll by the start of fall. And they will continue to work with the papyrologist in Paris, who will begin running segmentations on the Herculaneum scroll.


"We are now poised for discovery — discovery not just of new technical methods and software development, but of texts that we might somehow rescue," Seales said. "It is an honor to be holding this possibility in our hands and to be doing it with so talented a team of students and collaborators."


Timothy S. Tracy


Welcoming New Deans, New Members of the UK Family

Tue, 06/23/2015 - 13:57

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Last Friday, I had the pleasure of welcoming two distinguished scholars to the UK family.


Mitzi Vernon will assume the position of dean of the UK College of Design, and Dr. Stephanos Kyrkanides will join our community as dean of the UK College of Dentistry.


We are thrilled that Professor Vernon is joining the University of Kentucky in this critical leadership position. She has a unique background and diverse set of scholarly interests that make her an outstanding fit for a college that blends different disciplines and is renowned for its quality and service across the Commonwealth.


Professor Vernon is currently professor of industrial design at Virginia Tech.  She has works of architecture, furniture, interiors and product design in Phoenix, Los Angeles and Chicago.


She will join the university in September, replacing Interim Dean Ann Whiteside-Dickson, who has served for more than a year following the departure of Michael Speaks, who left UK to assume the dean's position at Syracuse University.


We are so appreciative of Ann's leadership over the past year and her steadfast commitment to the college and the entire university. She represents so well what it means to be a leader and a colleague at the University of Kentucky.


Please join me in thanking Dean Whiteside-Dickson and welcoming Professor Vernon to our UK family.


We are equally thrilled to welcome Dr. Stephanos Kyrkanides.


Dr. Kyrkanides is currently associate dean for research and faculty development and chair of the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry at the Stony Brook University School of Dental Medicine. Stony Brook, part of the New York State higher education system, is one of the leading public research institutions in the country.


We are pleased to recruit someone of Dr. Kyrkanides' caliber, who is an outstanding clinician, researcher and administrator. His experience in innovative care delivery, cutting-edge research and intellectual property generation as well as quality education delivery makes him the ideal person to help the College of Dentistry continue to excel.


Dr. Kyrkanides will join us on Aug. 1.


Dr. Kyrkanides will replace Dean Sharon Turner, who has led the UK College of Dentistry for the last 12 years. Turner last year announced her intention to retire once a new dean was selected.


Under her leadership, the UK College of Dentistry has had sustained growth — realized through significant increases in clinical revenues, important and needed renovations of facilities, and a notable diversification of faculty members who now represent many cultures and countries.


As importantly, the college also has expanded upon its commitment to service. The college's mobile dental program, considered a national model, has provided dental care for thousands of children and others throughout the mountains of Eastern Kentucky.


Dean Turner has taken the college to new heights in every facet of our mission at UK — teaching, research and service. It's been an honor to serve with her, and we are deeply appreciative of her outstanding leadership for more than a decade at UK. We wish Sharon and her family only the best as they move forward in this new, exciting chapter of their lives.


This is an exciting time for our university. As we’ve said many times, it’s our people — the students, faculty, staff, alumni and community —who make this such a special place. I look forward to seeing how these colleges, and the community as a whole, will benefit under Professor Vernon’s and Dr. Kyrkanides’ leadership.


Timothy S. Tracy


"see blue." U Begins Next Week

Wed, 06/17/2015 - 09:27

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Next week, our campus will begin buzzing again as thousands of young people — the newest members of our UK family — visit the university for the first time as new students.


UK’s “see blue.” U, our summer advising conferences, will begin on Monday, June 22. These two-day orientations for new students and their families will allow them to learn everything they need to know about their first year at the University of Kentucky.


From navigating parking to 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.


I would like to thank Associate Provost for Enrollment Management Don Witt and the Office of Admission for organizing these tremendously important events, as well as the various offices that provide information to the newest members of our community. You can view their presentations here.


It will be terrific to see the campus abuzz with students and their families.


With Woodland Glen III, IV and V, as well as the new academic support and retail facility, "the 90," coming online this fall, these students will have many reasons to be excited. We will build upon that momentum as we continue our sesquicentennial year.


I encourage you to take a moment to welcome these young men and women as you pass them on campus next week. President Capilouto often says that we prepare our students for lives of leadership, meaning and purpose. That incredible privilege begins when they first step foot on our campus.


Have a great rest of the week.


Timothy S. Tracy


Powerful Research in the UK College of Social Work

Wed, 06/10/2015 - 09:08

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Among the best parts of my job as Provost is telling the UK story.


It’s a story that’s made up of many parts– of students, faculty, staff, researchers and community members using their talents and passions to positively impact our state, nation and world.


This past semester Julie Cerel, a faculty member in the UK College of Social Work, made an important mark in a lamentably under-researched field: suicidology– the study of suicidal behavior and suicide prevention.



Since the 1960s, the number six has been commonly used to describe how many people are left behind after each death by suicide. Dr. Cerel debunked that statistic, leading to a trending topic on Twitter featuring the "#not6" hashtag.


Her research demonstrates that the number six is not based on evidence, but is a best guess that has been widely promulgated.


In her plenary presentation at the 48th Annual American Association of Suicidology Conference, of which she is now president-elect, Dr. Cerel presented her team's results from Military Suicide Research Consortium-funded data that calculated a different number.


They found that 115 people were exposed to each suicide, of whom 25 were deeply impacted and "probably in need of services."


That's a lot more than six.


The audience took to Twitter with photos and facts from her presentation, along with the hashtag. To view the many #not6 tweets, visit the Storify curation, a list of tweets featuring the hashtag:


I encourage you to watch the video above, in which Dr. Cerel discusses her fascinating and deeply important work.


The video is also available at


It’s wonderful to continue sharing these incredible pieces of the UK story. It’s through work such as Dr. Cerel’s that we remain, as Dr. Capilouto often says, the University for Kentucky.


Timothy S. Tracy



UK College of Design Students' Work in West Liberty Demonstrates Our Mission and Values

Tue, 05/26/2015 - 18:06

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


As President Capilouto often says, the University of Kentucky is truly the University for  Kentucky. Our mission compels us to address complex challenges facing the Commonwealth and to positively impact the lives of Kentuckians.


Of course, faculty, staff and students across our campus are doing just that every day.


Recently, students from the University of Kentucky College of Design demonstrated their commitment to serving a community ravaged by a tornado in spring of 2012. The group presented their concepts to aid in the rebuilding of West Liberty, as well as their work on a farm-to-table restaurant that will lay the foundation for an emerging fabrication partnership with the community. 


Now in its third year, UK College of Design began addressing issues related to West Liberty starting with a National Science Foundation-funded Systems Thinking for Sustainability (NSF-STFS) course in 2013. The grant is led by UK College of Design Associate Dean for Research Gregory Luhan, the John Russell Groves Endowed Professor of Architecture, and a team of UK and Texas A&M University (TAMU) faculty from multiple colleges and departments.


The current interdisciplinary design studio, comprised of 11 students from the UK School of Architecture, worked with industry partners and stakeholders from Lexington, Morehead, West Liberty and Morgan County to develop prototypes for primary and secondary use products germane to the region. These prototypes include a vertical farm, a farmer’s market, a farm-to-table restaurant, a cultural heritage center, a hotel, a bicycle hub, mixed-use bookstore/cafe, an educatorium event space, a recycling center and sorghum/hemp/timber manufacturing facilities.


In addition to proposals for the community's future, the studio is developing an innovative fabrication partnership with Morehead State University and the Eastern Kentucky Correctional Complex, who would assist the studio in fabricating, assembling and finishing furniture and built-in cabinetry for the proposed projects.


The West Liberty projects also expand the college's successful HBEER (Houseboats to Energy Efficient Residences) grant-funded research initiative beyond residential and school-based constructions to include offices and clinics. Luhan’s team is nearing the completion of a first commercial structure, a restaurant – Giovanni’s on Prestonsburg Road in downtown West Liberty.


The West Liberty studio's proposals are also garnering attention outside the state, showing their relevance to answering problems across the nation, as well as internationally. In early April, the studio, which includes members of our university's Big Blue Impact | Making Sustainability Visible team, presented collaborative and artistic approaches to visualizing big data at the Consortium of Design Educators Symposium in Oxford, Ohio. The BBI team then ran a workshop at Fabricate 2015 AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) Quad Conference for design students from across the United States. The workshop was titled "Data-driven Installations." Both presentations are rooted in the formative structures of multidisciplinary and collaborative teamwork and are working to narrow the gap between data and design. This fall, the team’s co-authored research paper will be presented in Vienna, Austria. 


Projects such as these underscore our mission, vision and promise to our community. They are central to who we are as the University for Kentucky.


It’s one of the great pleasures of my job to be able to share these stories. You can read more about this project here:




Timothy S. Tracy


UK Strategic Plan: Thank You for Your Invaluable Engagement

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 09:14

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Throughout the first two weeks of May, our campus community provided invaluable feedback for the UK Strategic Plan in a series of town halls.


These events fostered great discussions about the future of our institution. I would like to thank everyone who joined us, both physically and online. As you know, our work is deeply rooted in community and in a spirit of partnership. These town halls demonstrated the breadth and depth of talent, passion and commitment to our university that exists across our campus.


I would also like to thank the Strategic Plan leadership team for their outstanding work in both developing the plan and building upon great feedback from our community.


A draft of the strategic objectives, strategic initiatives and action steps— an 8-page document— is available for the community to view here on the Strategic Plan website.


We will also make available the revised draft, which incorporates campus feedback, along with the introduction and situational analysis next week.


Moreover, you can view videos of the town hall discussions by clicking the links below.


1.    May 6, Lexmark Public Room   

2.    May 7, UK Athletic Association Auditorium, W.T. Young Library

3.    May 13, Bio-Pharm Complex, Room 234-B


So, where to do we go from here?


The leadership team will review campus feedback and make final edits to the plan before presenting it to the UK Board of Trustees for its consideration in June.


In the coming days, a situational analysis and introduction for the proposed plan will be circulated, as well. After the campus and Board of Trustees consider the plan, the UK community also will be involved in development of an implementation plan as well as specific ways to measure progress.


Thanks again for your participation in this vital process.


Timothy S. Tracy 


Join Us This Morning for the Next Strategic Plan Town Hall

Wed, 05/13/2015 - 08:30

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Colleagues and Campus Community,


Our next campus-wide town hall forum about our draft strategic plan will take place today from 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. in the Bio-Pharm Complex, Room 234-B. 


The draft of strategic objectives, strategic initiatives and action steps is available here on the Strategic Plan website.


I hope you will take this opportunity to hear more about the proposed plan and provide us with your insights and feedback. 


This event will also be live streamed on UKNow. Individuals watching via live stream will have the opportunity to email questions and comments to and tweet them to @UKYProvost.


The leadership team that has been working on the draft of the plan will review campus feedback and make final edits before presenting it to the UK Board of Trustees for its consideration in June.


I hope you can be part of this important conversation about our university and its future.




Tim Tracy


Strategic Plan: Feedback and Next Steps

Thu, 04/30/2015 - 20:20

Friday, May 1, 2015


A draft Strategic Plan for the university has only been circulating for a few days on campus, but we already are receiving positive input and substantive feedback. That’s exactly what so many of us on campus who have worked together on the plan hoped would happen. This plan contemplates continuing to build a university community like no other. And that means creating a collective vision, based on a set of shared values and ideas for moving forward.


Our plan focuses on the future by leveraging our greatest strength — our people — and setting forth ambitious, but achievable goals for how we nurture their potential and help them succeed. A draft of the plan can be read here:


With that idea in mind, it’s important to point out another aspect of our plan: it’s a living document. It can and will change and be added to over time.


In the next few days, for example, we will circulate an introduction and situational analysis for the plan, a brief document that attempts to place into broader context our university’s strengths, our challenges and where we fit in the larger landscape of higher education and the broader Commonwealth and world we serve. Even after the campus reviews the draft plan next week, and the Board of Trustees considers it in June, we will not be done. In an important respect, our efforts will have only begun at that point.


Over the summer, with a strategic framework in place, we will ask a number of people on campus — faculty, staff and students — to create an implementation plan for each strategic objective, along with tangible ways we will measure our progress toward meeting goals.


A plan is meaningless unless it contains concrete implementation steps and definable, understandable ways to measure progress. We need to develop those implementation steps and metrics together, informed by the strategic framework and guideposts we put in place with the input of our campus and our Board.


Those are some of the efforts we will be embarking on, together, in the coming weeks and months. I look forward to our work as we seek to build on an already special campus community.


Timothy S. Tracy


Strategic Plan: Your Involvement and Engagement

Wed, 04/29/2015 - 09:27

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


Under the leadership of our Board of Trustees and President Capilouto, we have a compelling vision for the University of Kentucky: to be one of the handful of exceptional public, residential research institutions in the country, with an unwavering commitment to our Commonwealth. 


To make this vision a reality, the UK Strategic Plan will guide our actions, and how we measure our progress­, as we move forward together.  


As you know, our work is deeply rooted in community and in a spirit of partnership. The leadership team, comprised of individuals from across our campus, has been working in earnest to develop the UK Strategic Plan, building upon invaluable efforts, feedback and engagement from our community.


A draft of the strategic objectives, strategic initiatives and action steps— an 8-page document— will be available this afternoon, for your input and feedback. I will send an email to the campus indicating when this draft is available on the Strategic Plan website.


We will also hold three town halls— opportunities for us to engage with the community and receive your feedback. These events will take place at the following dates, times and locations:

  1. Wednesday, May 6: 9-11 a.m., Lexmark Public Room, 209 Main Building
  2. Thursday, May 7: 1-3 p.m., UK Athletic Association Auditorium, W.T. Young Library
  3. Wednesday, May 13: 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Bio-Pharm Complex, Room 234-B

These events will also be live streamed on UKNow. Individuals watching via live stream will have the opportunity to email and tweet questions and comments. 


The leadership team will review your feedback and make final edits to the plan before presenting it to our Board of Trustees for its consideration in June.


As you will see upon reviewing the draft, the Strategic Plan focuses on five main areas and builds upon the great work that faculty, staff and students completed over the past year. These areas include:

  1. Undergraduate student success
  2. Diversity and inclusivity
  3. Community engagement and impact
  4. Graduate education (we will address professional education initiatives separately once this process is completed)
  5. Research 

You can also send your feedback at any time to Moreover, you will find updated information— and additional opportunities to provide feedback— on the Strategic Plan website.


This strategic plan, which will guide our efforts between now and 2020, is critical in providing our campus and those we serve with a set of clear principles and objectives for the vision and goals we will share as an institution.


Your engagement has already been, and will continue to be, critical to the successful completion of the plan. I look forward to our work, together, to make this vision a reality.


Timothy S. Tracy


Congratulations to our 2015 Hall of Distinguished Alumni Honorees

Tue, 04/21/2015 - 17:06

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 


What makes our university thrive as a community and a center for knowledge? It's the people--and not only the outstanding faculty, staff and students--but the alumni who create and continue a legacy of excellence.


Last week, our community honored 23 former UK students — leaders who have impacted the Commonwealth, the nation and the world through their work — with induction into the 2015 Hall of Distinguished Alumni.


I had the pleasure of joining the UK Alumni Association in recognizing these exceptional individuals. It was yet another reminder of the critical efforts taking place, on our campus and beyond, that positively impact lives and address complex challenges.


We know that our work is deeply rooted in a sense of community. I thank each of these individuals listed below for making our community even stronger.  






The 2015 Hall of Distinguished Alumni honorees include:



Joyce Hamilton Berry

Joyce Hamilton Berry is a prominent clinical psychologist with her own practice in the Washington, District of Columbia, area. The first female African American to earn a Ph.D. from UK in 1970, she is a regular contributor to magazines such as Ebony, Essence and Cover Girl and has appeared on television to give advice and counsel. She was a member of the Congress of Racial Equality and the Urban League and has a history of speaking out against discrimination. Berry earned her master's in special education from the UK College of Education in 1967 and her doctoral degree in guidance and counseling in 1970.


Amy L. Bondurant

Amy L. Bondurant served as the U.S. ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development in France from 1997-2001, following a professional career spanning more than 20 years in government and private legal practice. She is the managing director of Bozman Partners, with offices in Washington, District of Columbia, and Paris, France, and also served on the boards of Rolls-Royce PLC and the American Hospital of Paris. Bondurant earned her bachelor's in telecommunications from the UK College of Communication and Information in 1973.


Stephen B. Bright

Stephen B. Bright is president and senior counsel at the Southern Center for Human Rights, a public interest law program that focuses on human rights for those who are facing the death penalty, class action law suits and unconstitutional practices in the criminal justice system. He has been a fellow or visiting lecturer in law at Yale Law School since 1993. Bright has received numerous honors, including the American Bar AssociationThurgood Marshall Award in 1998. Bright earned his bachelor's in political science from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1971 and his juris doctorate degree from the UK College of Law in 1974.


Timothy A. Byers

Timothy A. Byers, (retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen.) was the civil engineer at U.S. Air Force headquarters, Washington, District of Columbia. He was responsible for installation support functions at 166 Air Force bases worldwide with an annual budget of more than $12 billion. He received the Army Corps of Engineers Bronze deFleury Medal for demonstrating a high degree of professional competence, standards of integrity and moral character, with devotion to duty and country. Byers earned his bachelor's in civil engineering from the UK College ofEngineering in 1981.


Jennifer Burcham Coffman

Jennifer Burcham Coffman is a retired U.S. District Judge, serving joint appointments to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, on which she served as the chief judge starting in 2007, and for the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky. She ran a private practice in Lexington from 1977 to 1993 and was an adjunct instructor at the UK College of Law from 1979 to 1981. Coffman also served on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Coffman earned her bachelor's in English from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1969, her master's in library science from the UK College of Communication and Information in 1971, and her juris doctorate degree from the UK College of Law in 1978.


L. Berkley Davis Jr.

L. Berkley Davis is known internationally for innovations leading to the development and worldwide implementation of low-nitrous-oxide-emission gas turbines for electric-power generation. For more than four decades, his contributions to combustion evolution have made their mark at General Electric and in the power industry. He holds more than 20 patents related to gas combustion, and in 2006 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. Davis earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering in 1966, his master's in mechanical engineering in 1970, and his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering in 1972, all from the UK College of Engineering.


Brady J. Deaton

Brady J. Deaton is chancellor emeritus at the University of Missouri, where he was chancellor from 2004-2013 and held numerous other positions, such as provost, chief of staff and chairman of the Agricultural Economics Department. He has also participated in a number of advisory roles with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Deaton previously held faculty positions at the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech, and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. Deaton earned his bachelor's in agricultural economics from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment in 1966, and his master's in diplomacy and international commerce from the UK Graduate School in 1968.


Thomas B. Deen

Thomas B. Deen was the executive director of the Transportation Research Board, the national transportation research organization and a division within the nonprofit National Research Council of the National Academies of Science and Engineering. He was also a partner atAlan M. Voorhees and Associates, a worldwide leader in urban transportation. Deen pioneered the development and application of methods analyzing urban transportation problems and designing urban transit systems. Deen earned his bachelor's in civil engineering from the UK College of Engineering in 1951.


Holloway Fields Jr.*

The late Holloway Fields Jr. was the first African American to receive a bachelor’s degree at UK, graduating from the College of Engineering. He became a test program engineer at General Electric Co. and held positions of increasing technical and managerial responsibility. This work resulted in more than a dozen successfully deployed system types for more than 500 systems at installations for field sites. Fields was inductedinto the College of Engineering Hall of Distinction in 1998. Fields earned his bachelor's in electrical engineering from the UK College of Engineering in 1951.


Ernest Lee Fletcher

Former Kentucky Gov. Ernest L. Fletcher hasbeen an Air Force fighter pilot, engineer, family doctor, lay minister, state legislator, and U.S. Congressman. His legislative career began in 1995 as astate representative for Kentucky’s 78th District. Fletcher also served his community as a family practice physician in Lexington for 12 years, including two years as CEO of the Saint Joseph Medical Foundation. He is currently involved in business development and health care consulting. Fletcher earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the UK College of Engineering in 1974 and his Doctor of Medicine degree from the UK College of Medicine in 1984.


John R. Guthrie

John “Jack” R. Guthrie is the former chairman and founder of Guthrie Mayes Public Relations, a large firm that has servednational and international corporations including Philip Morris, Toyota Motor Manufacturing and United Parcel Service, among many others. He also was one of the founding partners of Worldcom Public Relations Group, the largest network of independent public relations firms in the world. He served on the UK Board of Trustees from 1996-2002. Guthrie earned his bachelor's in journalism from the UK College of Communication and Information in 1963.


Ardis D. Hoven

Dr. Ardis D. Hoven, an internal medicine and infectious disease specialist, was president of the American Medical Association (June 2013 to June 2014). She was a member of its board of trustees since 2005, its secretary for 2008–2009, chairwoman for 2010–2011, and immediate past chairwoman from 2011 to 2012. Hoven is a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and the Infectious Disease Society of America, and was named in Modern Healthcare Magazine’s Top 25 Women in Healthcare. Hoven earned her bachelor's in microbiology from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1966 and her Doctor of Medicine degree from the UK College of Medicine in 1970.


Robert Milton Huffaker

Robert Milton Huffaker is a scientist who has worked with NASA on the Apollo space program. His lunar physics included the creation and direction of laser Doppler systems, significantly impacting the aerospace industry and its understanding of turbulence and wind patterns. Huffaker founded Coherent Technologies Inc. (acquired by Lockheed Martin), a company focused on using laser radar systems for military/homeland defense and meteorological applications. Huffaker earned his bachelor's in physics from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1957.


Terence Hunt

Terence Hunt is a retired deputy bureau chief for the Associated Press (AP) in Washington, District of Columbia. He covered the White House for 25 years, from Ronald Reagan’s presidency through George W. Bush’s administration, reporting from about 90 countries and every state in the United States. Hunt won the Merriman Smith Award for presidential reportingunder deadline pressure. While at UK, he served as executive editor of the Kentucky Kernel. Hunt earned his bachelor's in journalism from the UK College of Communication and Information in 1967.


Howard L. Lewis

Howard L. Lewis is chairman, CEO and founder of Family Heritage Life Insurance Company of America, beginning his career with Central Trust Co., Picker International Corp., Progressive Insurance Co. and Capital American Life Insurance Co. He gives support to groups such as the Boy Scouts of America, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Wigs for Kids. Lewis has also been a cabinet member for Harvest for Hunger, which feeds Cleveland’s homeless. Lewis earned his bachelor's in business administration from the UK Gatton College of Business and Economicsin 1970.


Thomas W. Lewis

Thomas W. Lewis created a successful home building business, T. W. Lewis & Co. (later sold to David Weekley Homes) in Phoenix, Arizona. He and his business have been recognized with multiple national industry awards, including being recognized as the first inductee into the National Housing Quality Hall of Fame in 2013. In 2006 he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from Professional Builder Magazine and the National Housing Quality Award Committee. Lewis earned his bachelor's in mechanical engineering from the UK College of Engineering in 1971.


James W. May Jr.

Dr. James W. May Jr. is internationally known for his groundbreaking work in reconstructive surgery and has served as president of the most prestigious associations of reconstructive surgeons in the world. May is professor of surgery at Harvard Medical School, where he has taught for 32 years, and is chief, Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital, a post he has held since 1982. He holds two patents related to vascular issues. May earned his bachelor's in chemistry from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1965.


W. Rodney McMullen

W. Rodney McMullen is CEO and board chairman of the Kroger Co., having started in 1978 as a part-time stock clerk. He held increasingly responsible positions, including financial analyst; chief financial officer; executive vice president of strategy, planning and finance; and president and COO. McMullen has been on the board of directors of Cincinnati Financial Corp., dunnhumby Ltd., dunnhumbyUSA and Xavier University Board of Trustees. McMullen earned his bachelor's in accounting in 1981 and his master's in accounting in 1982, both from the UK Gatton College of Business and Economics.


Jeffrey P. Okeson

Dr. Jeffrey P. Okeson is a full professor in the UK College of Dentistry Department of Oral Health Science, where he is also chairman, as well as program director for the college’s postgraduate Orofacial Pain program. Okeson is an accomplished teacher, clinical investigator, mentor and clinician who has published more than 220 peer reviewed articles and edited two textbooks on tempromandibular disorders and orofacial pain, now translated into 11 languages. Okeson earned his Doctor of Dental Medicine degree from the UK College of Dentistry in 1972.


Beverly Moore Eaves Perdue

Former North Carolina Gov. Beverly Eaves Perdue, whose term of office was from 2008-2012, was the first woman to lead that state. She also served as the 32nd lieutenant governor, was elected to the North Carolina House of Representatives and served five terms in the North Carolina Senate. Currently, she is founder and chairwoman of the Digital Learning Institute, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and theCarnegie Corp. of New York. Perdue earned her bachelor's in history from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1969.


Peter Perlman

During nearly 50 years practicing law, Peter Perlman has won more than 50 multimillion-dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of his clients. He is recognized worldwide as a specialist in product-liability and crash-worthiness litigation. Perlman was president of the Litigation Counsel of America, Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Civil Justice Foundation and the Kentucky Academy of Trial Attorneys. He is a Fellow of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers. Perlman earned his bachelor's in philosophy from the UK College of Arts and Sciences in 1959 and his juris doctorate degree from the UK College of Law in 1962.


Theodore Strickland

Former Ohio Gov. Theodore “Ted” Strickland was in office from 2007-2011, previously serving in the U.S. House of Representatives (1993–1995, 1997–2007). He has also been employed as a minister, a psychologist and a college professor. Strickland was the director of the Methodist Children’s Home in Versailles. He also worked as an assistant professor of psychology at Shawnee State University and a consulting psychologist at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility. Strickland earned his master's in guidance and counseling from the UK College of Education in 1966 and his doctoral degree in educational and counseling psychology from the college in 1980.


Richard E. Whitt*

Richard E. Whitt received the 1978 PulitzerPrize for his coverage in the Louisville Courier-Journal of the 1977 Beverly Hills Supper Club fire. He won the 1984 John Hancock Award and was a finalist for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize for a series on coal mine safety in Kentucky. Whitt was also a 1988 Pulitzer Prize finalist for a series on public service and received the 1988 Southern Journalism Award from the Institute for SouthernStudies for a series on vote fraud in Kentucky. Whitt earned his bachelor's in journalism from the UK College of Communication and Information in 1970.


The first official recognition ceremony for the members of the UK Alumni Association Hall of Distinguished Alumni took place in 1965, making 2015 a special year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the hall's formal celebration. However, some individuals were selected as early as 1963, publicly announced in 1964, but only officially recognized in the first ceremony of 1965. With the 2015 honorees, the total number of alumni honored to date is 306 from more than 220,000 UK graduates. To find out more information on previous inductees, visit

Congrats to the 2015 Provost's Outstanding Teaching Award Winners

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 08:52

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


"It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge."

These words by Albert Einstein ring especially true today as our community honors seven faculty members and three teaching assistants who have dedicated themselves to preparing, advising and inspiring our students.


I will have the honor of recognizing these 10 individuals at the 2015 University of Kentucky Provost's Outstanding Teaching Awards ceremony this afternoon. 



The Outstanding Teaching Faculty Award recognizes regular and special title series faculty for outstanding teaching performance. The 2015 winners are:

  • Matthew J. Beck, College of Engineering, Department of Chemical and Materials Engineering
  • Daniel S. Morey, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Political Science
  • Mark A. Williams, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Department of Horticulture
  • Heather A. Campbell-Speltz, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Hispanic Studies
  • Holly S. Divine, College of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science
  • Debby L. Keen, College of Engineering, Department of Computer Science
  • Sarah E. Kercsmar, College of College of Communication and Information, Department of Library and Information Science


The UK Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award recognizes teaching assistants for exceptional performance in the classroom or laboratory. The 2015 winners are:

  • David M. Brown, College of Education, Department of Educational Policy Studies
  • Amanda R. Ellis, College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Statistics
  • Jerrod M. Penn, College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Department of Agricultural Economics


I would like to both congratulate and thank each of these individuals for their commitment to our students. Of course, they represent a subset of a large community-- one that is dedicated to educational excellence and to putting students first in everything we do.


Thank you for your efforts on behalf of that commitment.