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Get to Know our Director, Office of LGBTQ* Resources, Lance Poston

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 08:33

Wednesday, August 26, 2015 


The University of Kentucky Office of Institutional Diversity has established its first Office of LGBTQ* Resources to create a more inclusive environment for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer members of the campus community.


The new UK Office of LGBTQ* Resources, led by Lance Poston, intends to grow its outreach to reliably serve all the LGBTQ* individuals on campus and to function as a communication and educational hub for the entire community in sustainable and organized ways.


I asked Lance to answer a few questions, to introduce himself to the UK family.



What are your goals for the Office of LGBTQ* Resources?


In the broadest sense, my goal is to create signature programs and protections that increase LGBTQ* visibility and decrease marginalization on campus. As I think about crafting tangible goals that can be realistically operationalized, I’m focused on building an office that does three things well: educate, advocate, and foster community growth. Since we are an office that serves all students, faculty, and staff, our efforts in any one of those three focus areas varies significantly.



What is your background and involvement with the LGBTQ* community?


I’ve been an LGBTQ* advocate and educator for several years. I’m trained as a social historian of US gender and sexuality and spent the last two years as a Visiting Instructor and Ph.D. Fellow in Ohio University’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program. While at Ohio, I also founded the university’s annual LGBTQ* History Month Lecture and annual Queer Studies Conference. Beyond the university, I’m active in state and regional LGBTQ* focused organizations. I currently serve on the board of Equality Ohio, the Buckeye State’s largest LGBTQ* policy institute and political action group, and am one of the founding partners of the Kentucky Association of LGBTQ Higher Education. This Kentucky Association is a collaborative project with the other three LGBTQ* university directors in the Commonwealth, focused on creating a statewide network for consulting, educating, and programming. I also identify as a gay cisgender man and believe that my personal journey informs my work in some very crucial ways.



You are developing a pilot program called SafeZone. What is your vision for the program?


One of the key components of our educational focus is developing a SafeZone workshop that can be offered by request. This workshop is essentially an LGBTQ* 101 experience that aims to increase cultural competencies about diverse gender identities and sexual orientations. Key topics in the workshop will include understanding appropriate terminology, exploring basic LGBTQ* histories, and figuring out how to become an effective ally. With time, this SafeZone format will allow us to expand our network of supportive Wildcats who can serve as “safe zones” for folks who need support and referrals to other resources. 



What events does the office have in store for this semester?


There are several exciting events planned for this semester. On Friday, August 28, we’ll host a large welcome back event on the patio of White Hall Classroom Building from 4-6pm. This welcome back will feature representatives from over 30 campus and community groups that are LGBTQ* focused or proudly open and affirming. We’ll also have free t-shirts and food for everyone who visits the event.


We’ve received warm receptions at several community events in the last couple months and plan to continue outreach beyond the university. On September 19, the office will have a presence at the Louisville Pride Festival on Bardstown Road. We’ll also be attending several Preview Nights with the Office of Enrollment Management. In late December, we’ll host an evening gathering on campus to kick off our first annual LGBTQ* Alumni Leadership Award and look forward to travelling around the state with our inaugural recipients to talk about the exciting diversity and inclusion work happening at UK.


Finally, we are excited to sponsor several educational events this semester with the help of campus and community collaborators. First, we are hosting an event in Young Library this Thursday, August 27 around the fifth anniversary of the passage of the Shepard Byrd Hate Crimes Prevention Act. The event will feature members of the Shepard Family, US Attorney Kerry Harvey, UK Law School Dean David Brennen, and UK Police Major Nathan Brown. Later in the semester, we are co-sponsoring a lecture by trans* activist Kristen Beck about her experiences as the first Navy Seal to openly transition in 2013. For information on these events and more, like the office’s Facebook page!



What are you most excited about for your new role in the UK community?


I’m most excited about the potential impact of my position and this new office at UK. The University of Kentucky is an institution with a great deal of momentum. While walking across campus can be a bit tedious due to all of the active construction, it is exhilarating to think about the massive physical transformation that is currently underway at the state’s flagship institution of higher education. It is, perhaps, even more exciting to realize that we are not only making significant changes to our infrastructure, but we are also making huge strides in ensuring that all students, faculty, and staff can openly flourish as their authentic selves on this beautiful campus. In the quest to be a leading national research institution and citizen-focused land-grant university, UK’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is essential. I’m happy that my new position can play a key part in those ongoing transitions and expansions!  



You can learn more about Lance and the Office of LGBTQ* Resources here. 


Please join me in welcoming Lance to the UK family.



Timothy S. Tracy


UK Scholarships: Meeting the Needs of Students, Families

Tue, 08/18/2015 - 17:42

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


We all know the feeling: a sudden jolt awakens you at 3 a.m., with a furrowed brow, damp with sweat, beset by worry. The causes can vary: Family worries or financial woes; pressures at work; conflicts with a colleague or simply the sense of foreboding and stress of a deadline.


At the University of Kentucky, I see and talk with students almost every day. They, too, confront the same sensation, the early morning or late night sleeplessness and worry. And their concerns are, almost invariably, one of three things:

  • Doing well academically and what that means for the future
  • Financial difficulties, related to work or concern about paying for school
  • A feeling of being alone, the result of either being away from home for the first time or the challenge of finding their place, that sense of community we all want

We know that whether a student returns to school after one semester, and whether they ultimately graduate, depends a great deal on successfully navigating and coping with these issues. And, increasingly, financial concerns -- particularly what we call unmet financial need— play a predominant role in the question of student success.


It's why this year we have announced changes to our scholarship programs for the 2016-2017 school year. We've modified eligibility requirements for some scholarships, such as the Singletary and full-tuition scholarships.


That announcement has led to questions about our plans. That's understandable. Our diligent enrollment management team is working with families and students who apply for all of our scholarships to address the questions.


Our goal, though, is the right one for our students and for Kentucky: Find ways to better balance the academic merit scholarships we provide with need-based scholarships and aid.


Under the leadership of President Eli Capilouto and our Board of Trustees, we've devoted more and more resources toward scholarships and aid at UK. This year alone, we are investing more than $100 million in institutional scholarships and aid, up from $75 million just a few years ago.


But the vast majority of that aid today goes toward competitive scholarships. Those are important, but we need to strike a better balance with resources that target the financial need of prospective students and their families as well as initiatives that seek to help students stay in school once they join our community.


We know, for example, that $500, $1,000 or $1,5000 can make the difference between staying in school and going home. It can help determine whether a student works one job or two, while going to school.


In the coming months, we will be announcing a number of initiatives— in addition to our scholarship offerings— aimed at addressing financial need and the challenges that confront many of our students.


It's part of a focus we place at UK on the student experience, the idea of putting students first in everything that we do.


Much of the nearly $2 billion transformation occurring on our campus right now is focused on improving the student experience and instilling an even greater sense of community throughout our campus. Thousands of new residence hall beds, with dozens of classroom and gathering spaces, are designed to foster enhanced living and learning experiences for our students.


We know when students live on campus, particularly that first year, they are more likely to be retained, to do well academically, and to become involved in organizations and initiatives that give them a sense of social support and well-being.


This comprehensive approach and steadfast commitment is how we place students at the center of all that we do. After all, being the University of Kentucky requires us to think strategically and thoughtfully about these issues. It's part of what it means to be the university for Kentucky.  


Timothy S. Tracy


College of Education Professor Creates Avenues for Collaboration

Wed, 08/05/2015 - 11:32

Thursday, August 6, 2015


It’s hard to believe that the fall semester is almost upon us. In just a few short weeks, our campus will brighten with students moving in to their residence halls, exploring campus, meeting new friends at K-Week events and preparing to start their coursework.


Of course, even in the summer while the majority of students are away, the activity on our campus never wanes.


We are one of only eight universities in the country with the full range of undergraduate, graduate, professional and medical programs on one contiguous campus. I’m continuously awestruck when I think about what that means—that range of programs, that amount of talent. World-class poets and writers are working minutes away from nationally renowned researchers in cancer and energy. This proximity enlivens the possibilities for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary initiatives in learning and discovery.


A professor in the College of Education is working to create even more avenues for collaboration and shared knowledge.


Kathy Swan, an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was awarded the Senior Goldman Sachs Fellowship at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum in Washington D.C. in 2013. As part of her fellowship, she worked with an education team to make online collections more accessible to students, teachers and others. Two summers ago, she spent time in DC as a part of these efforts and delivered a keynote address for Smithsonian museum staff on disciplinary literacy for social studies.


Since that time, because of her outstanding efforts, the Smithsonian has expanded her role in their educational programming.


This fall, Swan will teach a free online course, offered by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, titled, “Teaching Historical Inquiry with Objects.” The course will offer teachers accessible strategies and tactics for incorporating inquiry-based learning methods into their existing history lessons.


You can view a video preview of the course at


You can also find more information about the course here.


Professor Swan is a terrific example, among many, of a dedicated faculty member, committed to making knowledge, discovery and understanding more accessible to the world. Join me in congratulating her for her exceptional work.


Timothy S. Tracy


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