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Veterans Day, This Friday, is a Time to Show Gratitude For Those Who Serve Our Country

Wed, 11/09/2016 - 09:33
Wednesday, November  9, 2016 Veteran’s Day is a time to show our gratitude for the outstanding men and women who have served and are currently serving our great nation. And every day, but particularly this Friday, we are reminded that exceptional soldiers and airmen are not made overnight. In fact, future leaders in our military are being developed right here on our campus through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC). The Army ROTC Wildcat Battalion and Air Force ROTC Detachment 290 Flying Wildcats, supported by the College of Arts and Sciences, have trained and commissioned hundreds of officers during their time on campus. As you walk across our campus, you often see these bright young students donning their respective uniforms. UK is proud to contribute to the academic components of their training. Students who participate in the ROTC program are known as “cadets.” On top of their course work mandated by the university, they participate in additional courses including military history, leadership training, and physical training. A normal day in a cadet’s schedule includes getting up at 5:30 a.m., participating in Physical Training (a KHP or AFS course), attending their classes for their major, and then attending a Leadership Laboratory or a meeting for ROTC. Earning a bachelor’s degree is a requirement for commissioning, but the degree a cadet earns often serves as the foundation of knowledge for his or her military career. For example, a Civil Engineering major will often become a Civil Engineer for the Army or Air Force. For that reason, the ROTC programs hold cadets to high academic standards. Cadets are not only future military leaders, but also, presently, leaders in the classroom. Our university partnerships with the exceptional Air Force and Army ROTC programs consistently attract and retain high caliber students. We are honored to have an opportunity to play a role in cultivating the newest second lieutenants each year to commission into the world’s greatest military. At the same time, we are grateful for opportunities to serve current veterans on our campus as well. 
 UK has, for the last several years, been ranked highly by Military Times magazine for our institution's support of and dedication to military veterans. The Veterans Resource Center was established, and recently significantly renovated, to provide veterans with assistance in transitioning to college life. These services focus on veterans across the span of experience, whether a veteran is entering college for the first time, transferring from another school, or returning after a deployment. Please join me in thanking each of these individuals for their commitment to our country and our UK community. They are reminders of our most fundamental purpose as an institution: to positively impact those we serve. We look forward to celebrating  Veterans Day.   Tim Tracy@UKYProvost#seeblue#seeservice

Serving Kentucky Through Our Research and Scholarly Work

Wed, 11/02/2016 - 10:23

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

 

As a $3.5 billion academic, research and health enterprise, discovery lies at the core of our institution. We are called to answer still lingering questions that affect our communities and at the same time dare to pioneer the questions yet asked. Because of this commitment, our research and scholarly endeavors offer the brightest hope for transformation of our Commonwealth and the broader world we serve.

 

The past month has been a particularly exciting time for our research enterprise.

 

Nearly two weeks ago, Vice President for Research Lisa Cassis presented to our Board of Trustees our progress with respect to UK research, in alignment with our strategic plan. She told a compelling story of our impact on and our promise to Kentucky.

 

A week ago today, we celebrated the UK Center for Clinical and Translational Science (CCTS) receiving a four-year, $19.8 million Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health—the second CTSA grant that the UK CCTS has competed for and received. These grants are extremely competitive and place UK in elite company. Other institutions funded in this round include Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, Yale University, Rockefeller University and UCLA.

 

Every day, I am inspired by the talent, passion and collaboration I see across our campus, particularly in the impactful research carried out by our faculty. Our research and scholarly endeavors address the compelling questions of our day and serve our communities in profound, tangible ways.

 

Take, for example, the work of Dr. Jennifer Havens, an epidemiologist in the University of Kentucky Center for Drug and Alcohol Research. Her work involves a particular focus on Appalachia and on a public health issue that’s afflicting our fellow Kentuckians.

 

About 15 years ago, a shift toward injection drug use behaviors occurred in rural Appalachia.

 

These changes in drug use patterns signaled the potential for infiltration of blood-borne pathogens transmitted through shared needles, initiating a spread of infectious disease. Increases in hepatitis C (HCV) infections have paralleled the increase in injection drug use behaviors among opioid users, with the rate of HCV infection in three Appalachian states tripling within six years.

 

Because of these staggering rates of injection drug use and HCV in Appalachia, the National Institutes on Drug Abuse (NIDA) issued planning grants in 2016 to support researchers expediting and implementing solutions to the epidemic. Dr. Havens was recently awarded two of the competitive planning grants to launch projects that will inform interventions and policies directed at opioid abuse across Appalachia.

 

Dr. Havens has followed the simultaneous rise in injection drug use and HCV in Appalachia since 2004, accruing valuable data imperative for informing interventions and effective health policies. In 2008, she embarked on a longitudinal study funded by NIDA. The project involved working with a community-based research team to recruit more than 500 injection and non-injection opioid users and opening a storefront research site in Hazard, Kentucky.

 

The site enabled researchers to build rapport in the community and retain research participants through several years of observation and data collection.

 

For the past eight years, Dr. Havens has accumulated data from the cohort regarding infectious disease prevalence and incidence, HCV risk factors, social networks, transmission behaviors and availability of preventive health services. To identify factors contributing to disease transmission, Dr. Havens and the study team analyzed social networks in rural communities, which remain relatively stable over time and provide a firm basis for examining how disease transmits through communities. The researchers collected information about individual drug-use behavior, as well as the social linkages between members of drug-using networks.

 

This information allowed Havens, in collaboration with researchers in the UK College of Public Health, to visually map Appalachian drug-using networks and disease transmission with unprecedented specificity. She also assessed risk factors such as syringe sharing, years of injection drug use and history of incarceration as predictors of HCV infection.

 

Dr. Havens is just one example, among many, of a researcher who has applied her knowledge, passion and life’s work to tackling a stubborn health disparity that is a scourge impacting our entire Commonwealth.

 

Her work reminds us of why we are here.

 

As members of the University FOR Kentucky, we ask ourselves each day: how can we use our talent to serve our community—to make it better, healthier, safer, and a place where everyone belongs.

 

Timothy S. Tracy

@UKYProvost

#seeblue 

 

UK LEADS: Leveraging Economic Affordability for Developing Success

Tue, 10/25/2016 - 15:20
Wednesday, October 26, 2016 At the University of Kentucky, we know that for students to accomplish their goal of graduating in four years, they need to be supported in multiple ways—not just academically. As we realign the units under the Office of the Provost, we’re doing so with the understanding that students succeed when their support spans across four key areas. I’ve referred to these areas as the four pillars of student success: academic success, belonging and engagement, wellness, and financial stability. With a focus on the financial stability pillar, last week our Board of Trustees approved a shift in the balance of our institutional scholarships, to have a greater focus on need-based aid. We call it the UK LEADS initiative: “Leveraging Economic Affordability for Developing Success.” Over the next several years, under UK LEADS, the university will move from awarding approximately 90 percent of its aid based on academic merit, to a majority of aid being awarded based on financial need. The shift in focus will begin with the fall 2017 entering class and will not impact scholarships awarded to current students. Using scholarship and institutional awards at UK from 2015, more than $22 million of the $25 million in financial aid awarded to first-year students was based on academic merit. Under the UK LEADS initiative, more than $17 million would have been distributed based upon financial need; about $8 million would have been awarded based upon academic merit or other factors. The shift directly aligns with our Strategic Plan, which contemplates aggressive moves in improving graduation rates to 70 percent and retention rates to 90 percent between now and 2020. We currently have our highest ever graduation rate of 63.4 percent; however, our retention rates have remained stubbornly flat at about 82 percent. I know we can do better. And, together, we will do better. That’s what this realignment of student support is all about. Though graduation and retention rates are, in part, how we measure the success of the university, primarily those numbers are a reflection on how well we support our students through their academic careers. More and more, we are learning that students are not successful in their goal of graduating due to financial need. That is reflected in graduation and retention rates. So, at its core, UK LEADS is about matching money to mission. Of course, we recognize that academic merit and financial need are not mutually exclusive, so we will adopt an even more holistic approach to evaluating student readiness. Our dedicated team has been examining our scholarship program for more than a year as part of our realignment. In addition, as a part of the realignment, we are also strengthening our structure to address the other three pillars of student success. For example, we will add eight licensed clinicians to the 13 already in place at the UK Counseling Center, and an additional 30 professional (non-faculty) academic advisors on top of about 54 currently at UK. We’re also expanding the capacity of career counselors, case managers and personnel at the our Violence Intervention and Prevention Center. Each of these decisions was made with a very simple question in mind: how can we allocate our resources in a way that has a maximum impact on student success? I’m very proud to come to work every day and have these conversations with people so dedicated to our students, their interests and their futures. Thank you for the role you play in helping our students succeed. Timothy S. Tracy@UKYProvost 

2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program

Wed, 10/19/2016 - 15:40

Thursday, October 20, 2016


This week, I have the honor of congratulating nine faculty members who were selected to to participate in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program.

 

This national recognition is a true example of the academic excellence that exists across our campus.

 

More than 100 faculty members from all 14 Southeastern Conference (SEC) universities will take part in the 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program. The program, in its fifth year, provides support for selected individuals to collaborate with colleagues at other SEC member institutions.

 

The SEC Faculty Travel Program is part of SECU, the academic initiative of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC supports and promotes the endeavors and achievements of the students and faculty at its 14 member universities.

 

The SECU program believes collaboration is key to the success and advancement of research. Through the program, the SEC provides financial assistance for its faculty members to travel to other SEC universities to exchange ideas, develop grant proposals, conduct research and deliver lectures or performances.

 

The nine chosen from UK to participate in the SEC Faculty Travel Program are:

  • Sunday "Tayo" Adedokun, an assistant professor of animal and food sciences in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
  • Melinda Ickes, associate professor of kinesiology and health promotion in the College of Education;
  • Yang Jiang, an associate professor in behavioral science in the College of Medicine;
  • Youngseek Kim, assistant professor of library and information science in the College of Communication and Information;
  • Yoko Kusunose, assistant professor of agricultural economics in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment;
  • Rebekah Radtke, assistant professor of interiors in the College of Design;
  • Monica Visona, associate professor of art history in the College of Fine Arts;
  • Irina Voro, professor of piano in the College of Fine Arts; and
  • Jonathan Wenk, assistant professor of mechanical engineering in the College of Engineering.

 

Once again, congratulations! We look forward to seeing the impressive work that is sure to come from this program.

 

Visit the SECU online at www.thesecu.com/programs/sec-faculty-travel-program/2016-2017-sec-facult... for a full list of 2016-17 SEC Faculty Travel Program participants.




Tim Tracy

@UKYProvost

#seeblue

Midterms and Student Success

Thu, 10/13/2016 - 09:56
Thursday, October 13, 2016 At the University of Kentucky, students are at the center of everything we do. We know that creating the kind of environment where students thrive means ensuring they have the support not only to excel academically, but also mentally, emotionally and physically. In fact, we envision student success as a combination of four crucial pillars: academic success; financial stability; belonging and engagement; and wellness. As a stressful time in the semester—midterm exams—quickly approaches, I want to take some time to remind students of the resources that address these crucial areas of student success. Academic Success:Below are multiple tutoring resources for various subjects. Some, like the Organic Chemistry Learning Center, are discipline-specific. Others, like the Writing Center, are available to assist students across an array of majors. LEAP – Lab for Economics and Accounting ProficiencyMathskellerChemistry Learning CenterOrganic ChemistryPhysicsThe Writing CenterCollege of Engineering TutoringeStudio (Engineering)CARES -- Center for Academic Resources and Enrichment ServicesCATS – Center for Academic Tutorial Services (specificly for student-athletes)Presentation U!The Study  Financial Stability:Financial issues can create additional anxiety at any point of the academic year, but particularly during midterms. For this reason, the UK Financial Wellness Center is geared toward engaging students in financial literacy programs and providing a place for peer mentorship through the MoneyCATS team. Financial Wellness also provides excellent resources for the University of Kentucky student body to stay connected and well equipped to handle their evolving financial needs. http://www.uky.edu/financialwellness/  Belonging and Engagement:Every student at UK — regardless of race, gender, background, religion, ethnicity, identity, and any other human characteristics — deserves to feel a sense of safety and belonging. And while more progress undoubtedly must be made on our campus, we are doing many things to address these important issues. Because midterms are often a time of elevated stress, it’s important to remind our students about resources devoted to nurturing this sense of belonging, such as theOffice of Institutional Diversity and the Martin Luther King Center.  Wellness:Wellness is comprised of various dimensions. The Office of Student and Academic Life recognizes nine, including emotional, career, social, spiritual, physical, financial, intellectual, creative, and environmental. Each of these dimensions is important, particularly during midterms. For this reason, students can utilize the following resources, among others, to address any needs they may have. Counseling CenterStudent Support ServicesUniversity Health ServicesCampus RecreationWellness If students are on campus late at night, we recommend use of the LiveSafe app. This app, created through a partnership between SGA and UK Police, enhances safety at night across on- and off- campus areas with virtual escorts and an ability to report tips.  Our Safe Line, 859-257-SAFE (7233) can also connect users to other services, including the SAFECATS program, which provides safety escorts on campus, and Parking and Transportation Services' on-demand bus service for late hours. Student Government and PTS also provide transportation off campus Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. through Kentucky WildCab. I hope students take advantage of these resources, both during midterms and throughout the semester. I hope you will study hard, and don’t forget to take care of yourselves. Good luck on midterm exams. Timothy S. Tracy@UKYProvost #seeblue

UK Homecoming Showcases Academic Excellence

Thu, 10/06/2016 - 11:19

Thursday, October 6, 2016

 

Homecoming is one of our institution’s richest traditions. It is a time for our campus community—our students, faculty, staff, alumni and fans—to come together and celebrate the University of Kentucky and what it means to us.

 

Homecoming also marks the time when the fall academic semester is in full swing; it’s nearly time for midterms, which begin on Oct. 17, a week from Monday.

 

In the midst of midterm preparation, I hope students take the time to enjoy all that this weekend has to offer, which includes supporting their classmates.

 

This year, our juniors and seniors who represent UK’s Homecoming Royalty are outstanding examples of both student success and academic excellence.

 

Evan Adams, a Lexington native and son to Doug and Stephanie Adams, is a Singletary Scholar at the University of Kentucky, majoring in Psychology. He is the current President of Sigma Chi Fraternity, where he has also served as Chaplain and Philanthropy and Service Chairman. Over his tenure at the University of Kentucky, he has served on the executive committees of DanceBlue, Wrap Up America, and GreekWide, and has been involved with other campus organizations such as FUSION Day of Service and Campus Student Fellowship. After graduation, Evan will pursue a Master’s in Education, with aspirations of teaching and preparing the next generation. Evan is sponsored by Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.

 

Tommy Daley is a senior from Springboro, Ohio. Majoring in Biology and Philosophy, he hopes to move on to medical school next year. In his time at UK, he has been a brother of Alpha Tau Omega, president and founder of MEDLIFE, president of the Student Wellness Ambassadors, a member of Phi Delta Epsilon, and an active member of the Christian Student Fellowship. He is currently a chair for DanceBlue, a senator-at-large for the Student Government Association, and works at Magee’s Bakery. He is the son of Lee and Megan Daley. Tommy is sponsored by Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

 

Richie Simpson is a senior from Lexington, Kentucky. He has always dreamed of attending the University of Kentucky, and is a senior who is studying Economics. His parents are Carol and David Simpson, from Lebanon, Kentucky, and Lexington, Kentucky, respectively. In his time at the University of Kentucky, he has been involved in a variety of organizations engaged in helping new students’ transition to life in Lexington at UK. In his final year at UK, he is serving as the Overall Chair of DanceBlue, a student organization at UK that supports children in their battle against cancer. Richie is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.

 

Patrick Smith, Jr. is the son of Patrick Sr. and Crystal Smith. Patrick is currently a senior from Belleville, Illinois and double majors in Marketing and Business Management. He is involved in leadership with the National Panhellenic Council and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. and has been earned many awards through regional, provincial, and national levels. In the past, he has also been involved with SGA, the Black Student Union, and the National Association of Black Accountants. After graduation, Patrick plans on attending law school in hopes of becoming an attorney. Patrick is sponsored by the National Panhellenic Council.

 

Zhizhi Wit Wang is currently a senior student majoring in Business Management in the Gatton College of Business and Economics. He is originally from China, and has been studying in the United States for a little over six years. At the age of sixteen, his father Qi Wang and mother Miao Li decided on sending him for a better education in the United States. He is well plugged-in in several organizations on campus and in the community. He is passionate about helping other people and promoting diversity and inclusion. He truly believes that everyone can change the world. A quote from his favorite TedTalk: “We have branded love about changing the world, but there is no world, just 7.4 billion understandings. If we can influence one person at a time, we are already making a positive change.” Wit is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.

 

DeAnna Duffy is the daughter of Brian and Carolyn Duffy. She is from Elk Grove Village, Illinois. She is a senior Psychology major with a History minor. She is on the Board of Directors with the Leadership Exchange, the Scholarship Chair for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority, and a Student Peer Coordinator with Transformative Learning. She also loves to volunteer with Wildcat Service Dogs, the Ronald McDonald House, and Wolf Run Wildlife Refuge. She is also a member of the Developmental Psychology Research Lab at the University, working under Dr. Christina Brown. DeAnna is currently applying to graduate school to become a high school teacher and hopes to someday teach abroad. DeAnna is sponsored by Leadership Exchange.

 

Elizabeth Foster is a junior from Owensboro, Kentucky studying Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Foster. Elizabeth is a Patterson Scholar and member of the Honors College. Currently, she serves as Chief of Staff for the Student Government Association and Membership Education Vice-President for Alpha Delta Pi Sorority. In addition, she serves on the Family Relations Committee for DanceBlue and is a member of the Society of Women Engineers. Elizabeth also works at both the University of Kentucky Visitor Center and Schneider Electric. Elizabeth is sponsored by Beta Theta Pi Fraternity.

 

Willow Kreutzer is a University of Kentucky senior studying Political Science with a double minor in International Relations and Gender and Women’s Studies with a certificate in Global Studies. She is from Lake Orion, Michigan, and the daughter of Gigi Kreutzer. Willow is the founding president of her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, and Vice President of her Political Science honors fraternity, Pi Sigma Alpha. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue her studies in International Relations, and pursue a career in government helping women in developing countries gain more rights. She is sponsored by Alpha Chi Omega Sorority.

 

Rowan Reid, a senior from Louisville, Kentucky, is a double degree candidate in Economics and Management. She is the daughter of Michael and Therese Reid, and has two other siblings attending UK, Halle and Nathaniel. She currently serves as the President of Student Government, and as the student trustee on UK’s Board of Trustees. She also is a member of the Student Coalition for Diversity and Inclusion and the Internal Recruitment chair for her sorority, Chi Omega. Rowan has dedicated her time at the University to bettering the student experience for her peers, and hopes to continue bettering the state of Kentucky in her professional career as a public attorney. Rowan is sponsored by Chi Omega Sorority.

 

Savanah Faith Sellars, from Lexington, Kentucky, is a senior Integrated Strategic Communications major and Philosophy minor. On campus, she is a member of Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats, Student Government Association, Arnold Air Society, club swimming, and is a Pi Beta Phi Alumna. Savanah works as an intern speechwriter and communications strategist for the President, Provost and EVPFA of UK. Off campus, Savanah teaches Jobs for Life to women at the Fayette County Detention Center. After graduation, she will serve as a second lieutenant in the United States Air Force. Her parents are Melinda and Thom Sellars of Lexington, Kentucky. Savanah is sponsored by Air Force ROTC Flying Wildcats.

 

Please join me in congratulating these students on their selection to UK Homecoming Royalty. Their commitments to academics, community service and to the University of Kentucky are outstanding.

 

Have a great weekend.

 

Timothy S. Tracy

@UKYProvost

#seeblue 

 

An Update on Our Academic Excellence Transformation

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 07:48

Thursday, September 29, 2016

 

Last week, we held the most recent in a series of Academic Excellence town halls. Throughout this meeting, several of our colleagues who are leading the realignment provided updates, next steps and specific components of our shared vision:

 

  • Adrienne McMahan, Interim Assistant Provost for Student and Academic Support provided an update on advising.
  • Nick Kehrwald, Interim Dean of Students, provided an update on academic alerts
  • Kathi Kern, Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching, provided an update on tutoring services and initiatives.
  • Mary Bolin, Director of the UK Counseling Center, provided an update on the center and the important work in which her staff engages every day.

You can find each of their presentations, as well as other updates and communication about the realignment here.

 

Career and Academic Advising

 

As Adrienne emphasized at the town hall, our commitment to supporting academic success spans across many areas. We must take a collaborative, integrated approach to ensure we are creating the best possible environment for student academic success.

 

To that end, we are transitioning undeclared, exploratory, non-degree & APP students to the colleges. Our vision is to create a highly-coordinated and integrated professional advising system that reflects discipline-specific norms but stresses consistent, shared outcomes.  We also aim to leverage technology and facilitate common practices, procedures and communication so students have a seamless advising experience regardless of which college they choose, move into or leave.  While we have an immediate focus on the first- year transition, this initiative includes a highly integrated plan for all four years.

 

We are also working to develop a better advisor-to-student ratio. All undergraduate advisors will have a maximum caseload of 285-1, a ratio based on national averages and best practices. 

 

This will require us to invest in hiring additional advisors, and is another example of us investing more—and more strategically—in our students.

 

You can view Adrienne’s full presentation here.

 

Academic Alerts

 

Nick Kerhwald discussed a central initiative in our shared goal to increase retention and graduation rates—academic alerts.

 

Academic alerts are supplemental to communication from the faculty to the student about expectations and issues with class performance.  Importantly, alerts are not a replacement for student-faculty communication; however, they provide another means for us to recognize and address instances in which students begin to struggle.

 

Once an academic alert is submitted, an email is instantaneously sent to the student and the academic advisor.  The student is instructed to contact both his/her advisor and his/her instructor to resolve the academic issue in question.  The academic advisor contacts the student promptly to discuss the issue. Concerns that would prompt an alert include missed classes; habitual lateness; un-submitted homework; poor homework quality; poor test performance or quizzes; risk of failing a course; and/or plans to leave UK.

 

We are currently piloting a system that will enhance the efforts even further. Launched last week, a group of 10-12 advisors across seven colleges are using it. Features of the new system include a communication platform that allows for automated communication templates, a share feature and a better note-taking system. The new system also provides better tracking of actions taken by advisors, which allows us to better collect data on the most important interventions.

 

We will continue to incorporate additional features throughout the semester, based on the important feedback we receive from our advisors and students.

 

You can view Nick’s full presentation here.

 

Tutoring

 

 Kathi Kern described at the town hall our commitment to coordinating a cohesive set of tutoring services on campus. We must ensure that students receive the same high quality tutoring assistance at all service points. To do so, Kathi and her team are working to heighten faculty involvement in the hiring and continuing education of tutors. She is also developing a plan that focuses on courses with high DEW rates and will roll out a pilot program next semester targeting those courses.

Over the course of the next several months, Kathi’s team will also meet with department chairs and associate deans to incorporate their feedback and ideas, while establishing a priority list and timetable for next steps in the on-going campus conversation about tutoring. We are also working to identify appropriate spaces for tutoring, particularly the relocation of The Study South.

 

You can view Kathi’s full presentation here.

 

Wellness

 

Dr. Mary Bolin provided an update on the important work occurring in the UK Counseling Center. The Counseling Center offers groups, workshops and short-term counseling to support student's growth and assist with mental health, academic and/or other personal concerns that might interfere with academic performance or a sense of personal well-being while at UK. We know that emotional wellness plays a crucial role in student success; we want to continue to build upon these efforts and services.

 

As a part of this process, we have expanded—and will continue to expand—the capacity of the Counseling Center. The center will employ 17 licensed clinicians on-site by mid-October. In addition, we plan to hire two more clinicians within the next year: a coordinator for inclusive excellence and a licensed psychologist. We are also working to expand services by extending hours at Frazee Hall.

 

You can view Mary’s full presentation here.

 

We will continue to host these community town halls throughout the realignment process. I’d like to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you who contributes to our most important shared goal: serving our students.

 

Thank you.

 

Tim

 

A Diverse and Inclusive Campus

Wed, 09/21/2016 - 09:19

Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016

 

President Capilouto recently wrote to the campus about the decision UK made to uncover the Memorial Hall mural, while also taking significant steps to cultivate an environment of inclusivity and belonging for everyone in the UK community. He also addressed this topic through a campus video message.

 

This is, without doubt, an important step.

 

Our campus must be a place where everyone — regardless of race, gender, background, religion, ethnicity, identity, and any other human characteristics — feels a sense of safety and belonging.

 

Plans for accomplishing this goal are infused throughout our strategic plan. It will serve as a guidepost throughout our efforts to achieve the environment we desire with respect to diversity and inclusion.

 

But, of course, the most important guideposts for this important undertaking are our people—the students, faculty and staff that make up the UK family.

 

We have been fortunate over the past several months to engage in constructive dialogue with a wide range of UK community members from our underrepresented populations.  President Capilouto, Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity Terry Allen, and I—among others—are anxious for that dialogue to continue in the consistent spirit of transparency, honesty, and respect.

 

Through these conversations a broad consensus emerged that progress needs to be made in a number of areas. In particular, our students presented us with five core pillars upon which we should focus with respect to people, resources, curriculum and performance measurements. Those five areas include:

  

  • Accessibility to resources and funding for organizations, scholarships and programming
  • Restructuring of the Office of Institutional Diversity
  • Measurable benchmarks for diversity and accountability
  • Increasing the number of African-American professors and staff and increasing retention
  • A class on race and ethnicity that is part of the core curriculum
  • These concerns are real. And we’re grateful to our community members for highlighting them  .

 

So, while more progress undoubtedly must be made, I’d like to highlight some of the things we are doing to address these important issues. In the spirit of openness and collaboration, we will continue to provide updates on the progress we’re making in these crucial areas.

 

Accessibility to resources and funding for organizations, scholarships and programming

 

Last year, we initiated the Provost Persistence Grant program— a program which provides grants to students with financial holds due to small sums of money. In the 2015-2016 academic year 209 students were awarded this grant. More than half of those students were from underrepresented populations. Having analyzed the data from past efforts with this program, we want to continue and expand it.

 

We’ve also increased funding for both the William C. Parker scholarship, an undergraduate scholarship, and the Lyman T. Johnson Fellowship program, a graduate scholarship. Both of these programs contribute significantly to diversity and inclusion efforts, as well as recruitment of underrepresented minority students.

 

Restructuring of the Office of Institutional Diversity

 

Last spring, President Capilouto spoke individually with more than 60 members of the campus and broader community about the Office for Institutional Diversity and its direction. He appointed Terry Allen to serve as interim vice president for institutional diversity and to begin the work of restructuring and reinvigorating efforts to support inclusivity throughout campus.

 

The Office for Institutional Diversity has contacted other institutions to gather information on best practices for this type of work. Internally, a survey instrument was created and distributed to 3,000 students and 1,500 faculty and staff to gather feedback.

 

The university will continue to look at the structure of the office with input from students, faculty and staff.

 

Measurable benchmarks for diversity and accountability

 

Last October, our Board of Trustees adopted the 2015-2020 strategic plan, which entails ambitious plans for closing retention and graduation gaps for underrepresented student populations.

 

One of the plan’s five objectives focuses entirely upon creating the kind of environment we all desire with respect to diversity and inclusion. Our goal is to “enhance the diversity and inclusivity of our University community through recruitment, retention and promotion of an increasingly diverse population of faculty, administrators, staff, and students, and by implementing initiatives that provide rich diversity-related experiences for all to help ensure their success in an interconnected world.”

 

Importantly, this emphasis is not only reflected through this objective. Our ambitions to become a more diverse, welcoming campus are suffused throughout the strategic plan, in each objective and every iteration of our shared vision.

 

Transparent communication of outcomes and mechanisms of meeting strategic plan benchmarks will be ongoing.

 

Increasing the number of African-American professors and staff and increasing retention

 

After declining or remaining flat over the last four years, UK has seen an increased number of female, underrepresented minority (all groups), and, specifically, African Americans, among faculty and executive/administrative/managerial staff in the last year. Of course, we want to continue and improve upon this progress.

 

We’ve begun to develop and implement plans, in line with our strategic plan, to provide formal inclusiveness and diversity professional development for all faculty, staff, managers, and supervisors.

 

One example is the Unconscious Bias initiative. This 3-5 year campus-wide initiative provides a sustainable road map for impacting awareness on campus for all members of the community beginning with leaders. Among the initiatives are faculty search committee trainings, along with trainings for community members, speakers, and scholarly research activities.

 

A class on race and ethnicity that is part of the core curriculum

 

The university is working with elected faculty representatives to examine whether a class that more holistically focuses on these diversity-related issues can become part of core curriculum. In the meantime, as this important process proceeds, programs that foster diversity and inclusion during K-Week have been enhanced. In addition, we have added a second diversity module in the UK 101/201 curriculum. This took effect this fall.

Again, I would like to thank those who are working with us, bringing these concerns to the forefront of the conversation.

 

After the tragic violence that took place across the nation this summer, Interim Vice President for Institutional Diversity Terry Allen wrote:

 

“As an institution of higher learning, that call for reflection, the thirst for understanding, the seeking of knowledge in the midst of the seemingly unknowable, is what makes us and our community special.

 

It is also the burden we must carry together. We have a distinct responsibility, in this place and at this time, to ask tough questions of ourselves, of society, and of those in power.

 

We have a right – and there is a responsibility we share too – to expect that all of us, regardless of our position or prominence, are held accountable for our actions, individually and collectively.”

 

As an institution, we know we must continue to nurture diversity, inclusion, safety and belonging on our campus. We share a responsibility to do so. 

 

At the same time, I’m proud of the steps we’ve begun to take—in partnership—to undertake this work. I look forward to continuing those efforts together.

 

Thank you for your role in our shared vision.

 

Tim Tracy

@UKYProvost

#seeblue

Academic Excellence and Student Success

Wed, 09/07/2016 - 12:49

Thursday, Sept. 8, 2016

 

 This morning, we will begin two days of meetings with our Board of Trustees in Bowling Green, KY. It will be an opportunity to showcase progress that we continue to make, under its leadership, toward our shared vision.

 

 We aim to be the University of choice for aspiring undergraduate students within the Commonwealth and beyond. One week ago, we took another important step in that journey. As we have announced previously, on Sept. 1 the newly formed unit, Student and Academic Life, began operating under the new organizational structure.

 

 This realignment supports our commitment to support student success in an integrated, collaborative way—one that blends the curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular. We are realigning our resources to create the best organization—structurally—to accomplish this important goal.

 

 A merging of the critical efforts within the Division of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education to form the unit of Student and Academic Life will provide a more integrated support structure to guide students through their academic journeys at UK.  The new structure reallocates more resources from administration to front-line staff working with and directly supporting our students on a regular basis.

 

 We are investing more – and more strategically – in our students. They are, and they must be, at the center of everything that we do.

 

As part of this process, we are also committed to transparency and openness. We will continue to keep the campus updated as we work to realign the other units that comprise academic excellence. 

 

Below is an email that I sent to all Student and Academic Life employees last week:

 

 

(Sept. 2, 2016)

Dear Colleagues,

 

 I’d like to thank you for your efforts, good faith and patience as we’ve undergone the first step in our Academic Excellence transformation. As we have announced previously, yesterday —Sept. 1—Student and Academic Life will began operating under the new organizational structure.

 

For the past several weeks, unit leaders have been working collaboratively to hand off responsibilities and ensure business continuity. We want this process to be as seamless as possible, especially as it relates to our interactions with students, so we appreciate your efforts to help us be successful.

 

Transitions are not easy. We understand that some anxiety still exists, and that we must continue working together to nurture a divisional culture that reflects our shared vision. To that end, we will begin scheduling workshops, retreats and meetings to discuss what that will look like, and how it can best serve our students.

 

We will also continue to meet in a town hall setting, as we have since April, to provide updates, answer questions and discuss the progress we’ve made. In the last town hall, a participant suggested that staff members submit questions or topics for us to address ahead of time. If you have any input on what we should cover in the next town hall, in addition to the regular updates and progress, please contact us at AETransform@uky.edu.

 

Naturally, many questions have arisen as we’ve gotten closer to this stage of the realignment. I would like to address some recurring questions we’ve heard so far. Those are below. Of course, if you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to email us at the same address, AETransform@uky.edu

 

Thank you for everything you do.

 

Will I have a different assigned work space?

The timeline for physical relocations within all Academic Excellence units will vary by unit and subunit over the next year. Unit leaders and managers will have more information on these timelines in the coming weeks.

 

Where do I go for my IT/UKAT needs?

For all Information Technology needs (desktop support, server support, etc.) please contact Kellie Etheridge (kellie.etheridge@uky.edu) or 218-HELP.  For all analytics/data requests please contact Craig Rudick (Craig.Rudick@uky.edu).

 

Will I receive a merit raises on my September paycheck?

The 2 percent merit raise allocated for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is based upon merit related to previous responsibilities and efforts—just as the institution has done for the last four years. Therefore, all employees will receive a raise commensurate with their most recent performance evaluation. Merit raise letters for Student & Academic Life employees will be distributed this week.

 

When will I know the status of my operating budget?

Employees who perform budget-related duties have been meeting with the Provost Budget Office team over the past several weeks. Units should receive FY17 operating budgets in the coming days.

 

What changes will occur on my website, and who will oversee web maintenance?

The Student and Academic Life unit leaders have been working with staff in UKPR and UK University Relations on all websites that fall under Student and Academic Life. These staff are creating new websites that reflect the new organizational structure and moving existing content into the new websites. If you have any questions about this process or the status of a website you help maintain, please communicate with your unit leader.

 

My new supervisor’s position is still open. What do I do in the interim?

The interim assistant provosts have been communicating with people in their units about the changes going into effect.  If your supervisor’s position is currently vacant and you are unsure who to go to for questions, time approval, etc., contact the interim assistant provost for your areas. If you have any additional questions regarding the organizational structure, please contact AETransform@uky.edu

 

What should I tell students, if they have questions about the new structure?

Any member of the UK family is welcome to ask questions at AETransform@uky.edu. Again, our goal is to make the transition into the new structure particularly seamless for students, so please contact us if you foresee any recurring questions or need guidance on how to communicate these changes with students.

 

 

Tim Tracy

Provost

Our Progress: Transforming Academic Excellence

Tue, 08/16/2016 - 11:37

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

 

Yesterday morning, I had another thoughtful and engaging conversation with the staff in Academic Excellence—the support units that focus on our top priority, student success. It was another meeting in a series of town halls I’ve held with this group since the spring, when we began the Office of the Provost realignment in earnest.

 

You can view my presentation here.

 

We spent the majority of our time discussing the realignment of the new division, Student and Academic Life (SAL), as the first phase of the realignment focused on this area. And, while we have made progress in integrating the organizational structure of Student Affairs and Undergraduate Education into the new division, Student and Academic Life, we still have work to do.

 

We’re continuing to evaluate how we can best match money with mission and ensure that we’re creating the best organization—structurally—to support student success.

 

To that end, we have begun posting new positions within Student and Academic Life, and will continue to post more in the coming weeks. You can see the breakdown of these types of positions in the presentation linked above.

 

At the town hall in July, I announced the interim Student and Academic Life leaders who have already begun working to build the new organizational structure, while also maintaining business continuity as we welcome a new incoming class of students.

  • Victor Hazard will serve as the interim associate provost for student and academic life.
  • Nick Kehrwald will serve as the interim dean of students.
  • Phil Kraemer will serve as the interim assistant provost for academic enrichment.
  • Adrienne McMahan will serve as the interim assistant provost for student and academic services.
  • Drew Smith will serve as the interim assistant provost for health and wellness.

 

We are also forming a search committee for the permanent associate provost for Student and Academic Life. We will begin conducting stakeholder interviews, as a part of this proccess, later this month.

 

Next month, we will begin bringing the entire Student and Academic Life division together, through a series of retreats and workshops, to continue developing a divisional culture. We’ve begun this process already, through meetings with teams, leaders and individual colleagues.

 

And as we continue to move forward, it is important to remind ourselves of why we’re undergoing this realignment. It underscores our ultimate vision: creating the best possible environment to support student success. We are aligning our resources to accomplish this important goal.

 

We are investing more – and more strategically – in our students.

 

Furthermore, we aim to create a truly integrated, holistic model: one that aligns functionality of the Academic Excellence units with the efforts of the colleges. 

 

We believe that these changes are necessary to meet our ambitious objectives outlined in our Strategic Plan. The plan charts our course to become one of the country’s leading public, residential research universities, envisioning retention rates of 90 percent; graduation rates at 70 percent; and a significant closure of the gap in retention and graduation rates that exist for underrepresented student populations.

 

We know that making this kind of swift and dramatic progress will require a more seamless and integrated approach to our efforts. To reach these goals, we must think and act differently. And we must make dramatic change now.

 

Over the course of the fall, we will begin working with Enrollment Management, another crucial unit supporting student success. EM’s role is critical to the financial health, mission and vision of the institution. As with all areas, we want to maximize its strengths while looking for opportunities to improve.

 

We’ll also announce realignment efforts within the UK International Center and the UK Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching later this academic year. Sue Roberts recently assumed the role of associate provost for internationalization. She will be working with our team as a crucial partner. 

 

I would like to thank each and every employee in the Academic Excellence organization for your patience, counsel and good faith as we continue to move through this process together. While this process has involved very difficult decisions—which were certainly not taken lightly—I’ve seen touching demonstrations of your commitment to our students and their experiences.

 

I’ve heard you, throughout this process, express your deep convictions and desire for our shared vision. I’m grateful for everything you do.

 

Sincerely,

 

Tim Tracy

Provost