Our Path Forward

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About Our Path Forward

At the direction of President Eli Capilouto, Provost David W. Blackwell and Executive Vice President Eric N. Monday are leading several teams of administrators, faculty, staff, and students tasked with generating ideas around several core concepts to create a long-term financial path for the University of Kentucky.

In the next five years, the University of Kentucky must address a critical financial imperative – a $200 million gap between expected revenues and anticipated needs. That financial plan – Our Path Forward (OPF) – seeks to achieve the appropriate balance between investments in operations, human resources, capital facilities, and technology to generate the resources necessary to maintain and expand our mission of teaching, research, health care, and service.


To fund current needs and make progress toward the ambitious goals within our Strategic Plan, we are asking:

  • Can we grow enrollment strategically over the next five years to educate more students and generate new resources for reinvestment in our campus and our academic enterprise, while maintaining quality?

  • What other initiatives – whether through innovations in online learning; new graduate programs that meet specific workforce needs; or helping more students who are close to a degree complete their work – can we implement to increase student success and generate new resources?

  • Where can we generate more savings in our operations? We have been innovators in creating more energy-efficient buildings and managing revenues more effectively. Are there other sources of savings we can find by working even smarter?

  • Is there important administrative work that can be shared or support that can be provided in ways that make us more productive?

  • How do these new initiatives align with our Strategic Plan?

These strategic efforts are further necessitated by financial and policy headwinds, including:

  • Expected fixed cost increases and the necessity of providing predictable pay raises to recruit and retain faculty and staff;

  • Declining number of eligible UK students graduating from high school in Kentucky; 

  • Disruptive innovations in the delivery of educational materials and coursework;

  • Evolving metrics and requirements within the state’s performance-based funding formula, which will increasingly determine state appropriations;

  • Growing health care and benefit costs; and

  • A more stringent state fiscal climate buffeted by a significant pension crisis (Figure 1; Grapevine FY18-19)

Figure 1: State Support for Higher Education, FY18-19 (Grapevine)



Concept Teams

The strategic questions generated five concept teams for planning and priorities. The five teams focused on: new revenues, other revenues, efficiencies and effectiveness, outreach and service, and structures and staffing.

Concept teams consist of deans, staff members, a University Senate representative, a Staff Senate representative, and a student, and are charged with identifying funds to address the funding gap.


Concept Team 1

  • Scott Lephart, Dean, College of Health Sciences (Chair)
  • Larry Holloway, Interim Dean, College of Engineering (former position)
  • Mark Kornbluh, Dean, College of Arts and Sciences 
  • Christian Brady, Dean, Lewis Honors College 
  • Lisa Wilson, Associate Provost for Finance and Administration
  • Todd Brann, Director, Analytics and Assessment, Academic Excellence
  • Kathi Kern, Director, Center for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching (former position)
  • Angie Martin, Vice President for Financial Planning and Chief Budget Officer 
  • Craig Rudick, Executive Director, Institutional Research and Lead Data Scientist
  • Nicole Jenkins, Executive Associate Dean for Administration, Gatton College of Business and Economics
  • Mary Vosevich, Vice President for Facilities 
  • Christine Harper, Associate Provost of Enrollment Management
  • Sue Roberts, Associate Provost for Internationalization
  • Joan Mazur, University Senate representative 
  • Daniel Wright, Staff Senate representative
  • Kassie Miller, student representative

Concept Team 2 

  • Stephanos Kyrkanides, Dean, College of Dentistry (Chair; former position)
  • Kip Guy, Dean, College of Pharmacy 
  • Janie Heath, Dean, College of Nursing
  • Deirdre Scaggs, Interim Dean, University Libraries 
  • Rodney Andrews, Director, Center for Applied Energy Research
  • Susan Krauss, Treasurer, University Financial Services 
  • Ian McClure, Director, Office of Technology Commercialization 
  • Susannah Denomme, Senior Executive Director, Philanthropy
  • Greg Heileman, Associate Provost for Student and Academic Life 
  • Bruce Webb, University Senate representative
  • Jeff Bosken, Staff Senate representative
  • Ben Long, student representative

Concept Team 3 

  • Dan O'Hair, College of Communication and Information (Chair; former position) 
  • Barry Swanson, Chief Procurement Officer
  • Steven Skinner, Interim Dean, Gatton College of Business and Economics (former position)
  • Mitzi Vernon, Dean, College of Design
  • Bob DiPaola, Dean, College of Medicine
  • James Frazier, Executive Director, Risk Management and Administrative Services 
  • Kristen Cheser, Assistant Provost, Finance and Operations
  • Brian Nichols, Chief Information Officer 
  • Leslie Vincent, University Senate representative 
  • Megan Sizemore, Staff Senate representative 
  • Brad West, Student representative 

Concept Team 4

  • Nancy Cox, Dean, College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment (Chair)
  • Mark Shanda, Dean, College of Fine Arts 
  • Mary John O'Hair, College of Education (former position)
  • Ann Vail, Interim Dean, College of Social Work 
  • Melody Flowers, Executive Director for Strategic Analysis and Policy, EVPFA
  • George Ward, Executive Director, Coldstream Research Campus 
  • Becky Farthing, Strategic Planning and Financial Analyst, Office of the Provost
  • John Nash, University Senate representative 
  • Elijah Wilson, Staff Senate representative 
  • Abby Herman, student representative

Concept Team 5 

  • Donna Arnett, Dean, College of Public Health
  • David Brennen, Dean, College of Law 
  • Brian Jackson, Interim Dean, Graduate School
  • Katherine McCormick, Chair of the University Senate Council (former position)
  • Kim Wilson, Vice President for Human Resources 
  • Kirsten Turner, Associate Provost, Academic Excellence Operations 
  • Shannon Means, Director of Policy and Data Analysis, University Budget Office 
  • Jenny Minier, University Senate representative 
  • Ann Eads, Staff Senate representative 
  • Taylor Hall, student representative

Phase I - Implementation

In late 2017, concept teams assigned to look at new revenues, savings, and efficiencies identified 34 concepts. In spring 2018, concepts were selected for initial stage investigation and implementation as part of Phase I of Our Path Forward. The concepts for Phase I implementation include:

  • First-time, first-year enrollment (Christine Harper, Chair)
  • Retention (Kirsten Turner, Chair)
  • Online Programs and Completer Degrees (Kathi Kern, Chair)
  • Summer Programs (Mark Kornbluh, Chair)
  • Project Graduate (Kathi Kern, Chair)
  • Procure-to-Pay (Barry Swanson, Chair)
  • Carbon Reduction (Nancy Cox, Chair)
  • Revenue Share Model (Larry Holloway, Chair)

Phase I priorities are designed to meet the short-term and long-term financial needs of, as well as reflect the Strategic Plan goals for, the University. The immediate FY2019-2020 funding priorities will address flat or declining state support, modest or minimal tuition increases, and include the following expenses priorities:

  • Continued investment in a Merit Salary Pool,
  • Faculty Retention/Promotion/Diversity Hires,
  • Presidential Research Investments,
  • Investment in our students via institutional aid, and
  • Investment in our infrastructure through capital renewal, utility upgrades, and debt service

For Phase I, the implementation committee is working toward the following targets:

First-time, First-Year Enrollment 

Following the appointment of a new Associate Provost of Enrollment Management, new and enhanced recruitment strategies are underway. While our doors remain open widest for Kentucky students, enrollment management leaders are working to expand into seven new and targeted out-of-state markets to reach our enrollment goals.  


To improve retention and meet the University’s first-to-second-fall retention goal of 90%, several initiatives are underway or under development. The third year of the UK Leveraging Economic Affordability for Developing Success pilot project, a new residential connections pilot project, and the UK Bridge Program are underway.

Online Growth

Associate Provost Kathi Kern leads a newly created structure within the Office of the Provost to support online growth. A recent call for proposals yielded 48 concepts for new online degree or certificate programs. From these proposals, 26 were selected:

  • Eight Master’s Degrees,
  • 12 Graduate Certificates,
  • Three Bachelor’s/Completer Degrees, and
  • Three Undergraduate Certificates.

Thanks to the leadership of the University Senate and Senate Council, departments hope to begin offering these programs in summer 2019. 

Summer Growth

College of Arts and Sciences Dean Mark Kornbluh leads two collaborative teams addressing online and on-campus summer programs. Team members are working collaboratively with the University Senate to review and revise policies which preclude non-UK and non-degree seeking students from enrolling seamlessly into courses and/or certificate options.

Project Graduate

Project Graduate targets former UK students who have stopped out for at least two years and have more than 100 credit hours that may count toward a new fully online completer degree option in the College of Arts and Sciences. Degree audits are underway for more than 600 prospective Project Graduate students who are candidates for degree completion via the Bachelor of Liberal Studies Degree. Upon completion of 140 degree audits, 37 candidates are already deemed eligible to graduate. Implementation team leadership is developing a loan option to support these students, which launched in spring 2019.


Huron is providing research and exploratory support for revitalizing the University’s procure-to-pay processes. The final report was completed in late November 2018, and is under further review to identify potential savings and specific target areas across the institution. Project leaders anticipate a new system in place by summer 2020.

Carbon Reduction Program

Based on the result of a carbon inventory of Robinson Forest, the carbon reduction program will generate initial revenue of $4.5 million to $6.5 million over five to 10 years. The implementation team, led by College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment Dean Nancy Cox, is developing a Memorandum of Agreement with the Nature Conservancy to assist UK as a broker in the carbon credit market. A portion of the revenue will be used to fund infrastructure needs for Robinson Forest. The remainder of the revenue will be used for a multi-disciplinary pilot project to address community health in eastern Kentucky (part of the President’s Research Initiative).


Phase II

While Phase I implementation takes place, the original concept teams will return to the original list of concepts and identify new opportunities for efficiency gains and revenue to build out plans for Phase II work.


Related Support, Documents, and Stories  

To support Our Path Forward, a small work group provides analysis and supports concept and implementation teams. That work group includes:

  • Larry Holloway, Vice Provost, Office of the Provost
  • Angie Martin, Vice President for Financial Planning and Chief Budget Officer, EVPFA 
  • Craig Rudick, Executive Director, Institutional Research and Lead Data Scientist
  • Kirsten Turner, Associate Provost, Academic Excellence Operations 
  • Lisa Wilson, Associate Provost for Finance and Administration, Office of the Provost
  • Kristen Cheser, Assistant Provost, Finance and Operations, Provost Budget Office 
  • Chris Crumrine, Deputy Chief of Staff, Office of the President
  • Brooke Davis, Finance and Business Analyst, EVPFA 
  • Baron Wolf, Assistant Vice President for Research Strategy and Data Analytics, Office of the Vice President for Research
  • Shannon Means, Director of Policy and Data Analysis, University Budget Office 
  • Melody Flowers, Executive Director for Strategic Analysis and Policy, EVPFA
  • Jay Blanton, Executive Director, Public Relations and Marketing



Managers and administrators in colleges, units, and departments across campus will be leading conversations throughout the Our Path Forward initiative to generate discussions and ideas. We urge you take part in these conversations. You also can participate through this website. 

Click here to respond to questions and provide open-ended comments. You can submit ideas by name or anonymously.

Thank you for participating in this process. You do the essential work of this institution and play a critical role in building our future success and continuing our momentum as the University for Kentucky.