About the University

University of Kentucky – The Commonwealth’s Flagship Institution

In February 1865, amid the still smoldering embers of the Civil War, John Bryan Bowman advocated for a public university in Lexington. Though located in the Bluegrass, the Agriculture and Mechanical College of Kentucky University would go on to serve the better interests of the entire Commonwealth. It was a profound idea that a university had the ability to change people’s lives through unmatched higher education, innovative research and discovery and outreach that uplifts and heals communities and the people it serves. Bowman challenged the Commonwealth’s flagship institution to be the University for Kentucky.

Today, the University of Kentucky is pioneering new ways to carry out its mission to our students, faculty, staff, alumni and friends, and the people of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

The innovation, creativity, quality teaching, and uplifting service underway at the University of Kentucky touch the lives of people throughout the state, the nation, and the world. This is the covenant we honor through ground-breaking research, community outreach, intellectually rigorous education and technological advances that advance the Commonwealth while also fostering a cultural quality of life through our museums, libraries and special events.

The innovation, creativity, quality teaching and uplifting service underway at the University of Kentucky (UK) touch the lives of people throughout the Commonwealth, the country and the world. Our mission to advance Kentucky, outlined in our strategic plan — the UK-PURPOSE — calls us to groundbreaking research, community outreach, intellectually rigorous education and technological advances that contribute to the betterment of the Commonwealth while also fostering a cultural quality of life through our museums, libraries and special events. 
Founded in 1865 as a land-grant institution adjacent to downtown Lexington, UK is nestled in the scenic heart of the beautiful Bluegrass region of Kentucky. From its early beginnings with only 190 students and 10 professors, UK’s campus now covers more than 900 acres and is home to nearly 34,000 students and more than 26,000 employees, including nearly 3,000 full-time faculty. The university operates an annual budget of $6.9 billion and is one of eight universities in the United States that has colleges of agriculture, engineering, medicine and pharmacy on a single campus, leading to groundbreaking discoveries and unique transdisciplinary collaboration.  

The state’s flagship university consists of 16 academic and professional degree-granting colleges where students can choose from more than 200 majors and degree programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The colleges consist of the Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; Arts and Sciences; the Gatton College of Business and Economics; Communication and Information; Dentistry; Design; Education; the Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering; Fine Arts; Health Sciences; the J. David Rosenberg College of Law; Medicine; Nursing; Pharmacy; Public Health; and Social Work. The Lewis Honors College provides an immersive liberal arts education with the resources of a leading research university. The Graduate School prepares the next generation of business, industry and academic leaders. Supporting and emboldening our scholarly community is a comprehensive research library system made up of nine facilities, including the world-class William T. Young Library. 

The student body represents more than 100 countries, every state in the nation and all 120 Kentucky counties. The university continues to attract the best and brightest from Kentucky and beyond. UK undergraduate, graduate and professional students compete successfully for prestigious scholarships and awards, such as Fulbright, Astronaut, Truman, Goldwater, Marshall, Udall, Rhodes and Gates Cambridge. The Office of Nationally Competitive Awards assists all students and alumni with applications for awards funded outside of the university. UK has had 14 Truman Scholars and 6 Marshall Scholars. Its third Gates Cambridge Scholar was named in 2022-23 and 10th Rhodes Scholar was named in 2018-19. Additionally, UK has celebrated 27 Astronaut Scholars, as well as 33 Goldwater Scholars since 1995. Since the inception of the Fulbright Program in 1946, 288 UK faculty and staff and 135 UK students have been awarded Fulbright grants in support of research, teaching and studies in more than 70 countries around the world. 

With its landscape and landmark buildings, UK’s campus also offers facilities that advance the scholarship of its students and the research endeavors of its faculty. 

At the heart of the campus is the iconic William T. Young Library, the most visible of several facilities that comprise UK Libraries. The stately architecture features a 93-foot-tall rotunda and a dramatic five-floor atrium allowing natural light to pour in from skylights. UK Libraries is among the world’s leading research libraries with a broad scope of advanced technology that offers students, faculty, staff and Kentucky residents special access to current information online, in addition to printed resources. 

In recent years, the University of Kentucky has revitalized both student living and learning spaces. In fact, the institution has expended more than $5 billion in a little more than a decade on facilities that enhance living, learning, scholarship and athletics across the institution.

UK’s public/private partnership with EdR/Greystar has yielded more than 6,850 modern beds and more than 200 active learning spaces in 14 buildings — a more than $450 million investment made by our partners. 

•    Lyman T. Johnson Hall and Donovan Hall opened in fall 2013; 
•    Chellgren Hall, Don and Mira Ball Hall, Haggin Hall, Jewell Hall and Blazer Hall opened in fall 2014; 
•    Pigman Hall, Woodland Glen IV and Woodland Glen V opened in fall 2015; 
•    Holmes Hall and Boyd Hall opened in fall 2016; and 
•    University Flats and Lewis Hall opened in fall 2017. 

In 2023, the university’s Board of Trustees approved a plan to seek legislative authority for the construction of Phase IV of the university’s student housing project that began in 2011. The approval authorizes UK to negotiate and enter into a pre-development agreement and a long-term lease with Greystar Real Estate for the development and management of a proposed $81 million four-story building for undergraduate students that will include approximately 644 beds and be located at the former site of the Kirwan/Blanding complex. 

Research at the University of Kentucky is a dynamic enterprise encompassing traditional scholarship, the humanities, health care and emerging scientific fields and technologies. The scope and scale of UK’s research enterprise results in more than $873 million annually in economic impact and more than 4,600 jobs across the state. 
With more than 70 research centers and institutes, UK researchers are discovering new knowledge; providing a rich training ground for current students and the next generation of researchers; advancing the economic growth of the Commonwealth of Kentucky; and exploring art and creativity of diverse cultures. 
UK is one of eight universities in the country with a research and teaching campus and a medical center in one central location. That proximity, and the willingness of our scientists and scholars to work together across disciplines, makes innovation possible. 
UK Research funds eight Research Priority Areas (RPAs): cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and obesity, equity, energy, materials science, neuroscience and substance use disorders. These areas were selected based on local relevance, existing funding strength, sustainability and disciplinary scholarly diversity. The initiative began in 2018 to seed innovative ideas and bring researchers together to compete for federal funding. It has seen successful returns on investment, with double-digit compound annual growth rates in grants and contracts for research in equity (28.9%), materials science (16.4%), neuroscience (15.6%) and substance use disorders (11.8%) since 2015. 
UK is one of 34 institutions in the country with the trifecta of research designations for excellence in cancer, aging and translational science. 

Among the brightest examples of UK’s investment in transformative research is the Markey Cancer Center. The UK Markey Cancer Center has earned a “Comprehensive” Cancer Center designation, the highest level of recognition awarded by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Markey is the first and only center in Kentucky to achieve this designation, and the next-closest Comprehensive Cancer Center is nearly 200 miles from Lexington. Currently, 72 NCI-designated Cancer Centers exist, and 57 of those are Comprehensive Cancer Centers. Markey’s robust research and clinical enterprise is the cornerstone of our commitment to improving the health and welfare of our state.
In 1957, UK established what has become one of the nation’s finest academic medical centers. UK HealthCare is the clinical enterprise and academic medical center of the University of Kentucky and includes 1,029 beds across three hospitals: UK Chandler Hospital, which includes a Level 1 trauma center, transplant center and NCI-designated cancer center; UK Good Samaritan Hospital, an acute care facility; and Kentucky Children’s Hospital. In addition, UK HealthCare comprises more than 9,000 people — physicians, nurses, pharmacists and other health care professionals — all dedicated to providing the most advanced, most effective care available. In the 2023 fiscal year, UK HealthCare hospitals managed more than 45,000 discharges, more than 38,000 surgeries, more than 123,000 emergency department visits and more than 1.4 million hospital-based outpatient clinic visits.   
For the past nine years, UK HealthCare has been ranked No. 1 in Kentucky in the U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hospitals Rankings, and the UK Markey Cancer Center has been ranked in the Top 50 nationally for cancer care for the eighth consecutive year. Additionally, Kentucky Children’s Hospital has been recognized as a 2023-24 Best Children’s Hospital, and the Joint Pediatric and Congenital Heart Program, a collaboration between Cincinnati Children’s and Kentucky Children’s Hospital, ranked seventh in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery.  
In December 2022, Ashland-based King’s Daughters (KD), the largest employer in northeastern Kentucky, officially became part of UK — creating greater access to high-quality care for more Kentuckians. King’s Daughters serves a 16-county region across Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia and has more than 5,000 employees at two acute-care hospitals; more than 50 ambulatory centers and practice locations; a long-term care facility; a medical transport company; and six urgent care centers. 
The university has demonstrated its commitment to partnerships with businesses and other institutions of higher learning. As a $6.9 billion university, UK is one of the region’s largest employers and is fostering better relationships with the community by directly engaging businesses, local government and civic service organizations. Additionally, the university hired a supplier diversity manager as part of a long-term commitment to bolster and strengthen ties to minority-owned businesses and vendors. 

UK’s reach extends far beyond the borders of Fayette County. As an anchor institution for the Bluegrass Economic Advanced Movement, UK’s Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering and graduates of our institution are a critical component of growing an advanced manufacturing economy in central Kentucky. Thanks to a unique partnership between UK’s Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering and the Bluegrass Community and Technical College, students can earn an Associate of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Technology. The college’s Department of Engineering Technology, made possible in large part through a $2.25 million gift from Toyota, offers two four-year undergraduate degrees in lean systems engineering technology and computer engineering technology. Graduates of these pathways will be trained in the latest technologies and equipped with the practical skills necessary for thriving in advanced technology industries. 
UK is also part of the Bluegrass Higher Education Consortium, a collection of postsecondary institutions working together to advance the cause of learning. UK works collaboratively with other institutions to establish joint degree programs to improve the pipeline of students transferring between colleges and universities. 

Day and night, the people of the University of Kentucky are focused on advancing Kentucky through outstanding academic programs, putting students first, research and discovery, building an inclusive community and serving the people of this state. It’s all part of the University’s mission as a 21st century flagship and land grant research university. From its first Nobel Laureate to cutting-edge work in addressing health disparities, and from the artistic wonders that stir souls to our scientific creativity that inspires minds, UK seeks a brighter future through the contributions of our faculty, staff, students and alumni. We are the University of Kentucky.