As the 2011-12 academic year comes to a close let me thank you for all the incredible work, dedication and commitment you have exhibited throughout the year. Without a doubt, our faculty and staff rival those at the most prestigious institutions in the country.
Over the last year we have welcomed and educated a record-number of new students; we have successfully launched a new general education curriculum (UK Core) and a new residential college (Wired); we have made progress on shortening time-to-degree through our online and summer school initiative; we have greatly expanded our international efforts through faculty exchanges, short-courses, new education abroad programs, and our passport to the world initiative (Year of China); among many, many other successes.
Our faculty and staff have been recognized by countless national organizations and agencies, as well as by the University community. The following are just a handful of the many successes achieved this year:
- Nikky Finney (English) awarded the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry
- Brandon Look (Philosophy) awarded a NEH Fellowship
- Joe Straley (Physics-Astronomy) and Francie Chassen-Lopez (History) awarded the Provost Distinguished Service Professorship
- Alan Demlow and Changyou Wang (both Mathematics) awarded Simons Foundation Fellowships
- Dick Jefferies (Anthropology) won the Distinguished Professor Award
- Jeremy Popkin (History) awarded National Humanities Center Fellowship
- Sarah Lyon (Anthropology) awarded best book by the Society for Economic Anthropology
- Rich Schein and Sue Roberts (both in Geography), Ted Fiedler (MCLLC), Alan Nadel (English), and Horace Bartilow and Don Gross (both in Political Science) awarded Fulbright Fellowship
- John Anthony (Chemistry) awarded the UK Libraries Medallion for Intellectual Achievement
- Steve Yates (Chemistry) awarded the first-ever SEC faculty achievement award
- Chris Pool (Anthropology) and Mark Fillmore (Psychology) awarded University Research Professor
- Jonathan Golding (Psychology) won the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and CASE 2011 Kentucky Professor of the Year award
- Betty Lorch (Psychology) and four colleagues received a $1.5 Million Dollar grant from the US Department of Education for Comprehensive Intervention for Elementary School Children At- Risk for ADHD
- Yinan Wei (Chemistry), Gary Ferland (Physics and Astronomy), and Ramesh Bhatt (Psychology) each received grants over $400,000 from the National Science Foundation
- Brenna Byrd (MCCLL), Yanira Paz (Hispanic Studies), Brad Plaster (Physics & Astronomy) and Christia Brown (Psychology) awarded Outstanding Teaching Awards
- Adrienne McMahan (Wired) won the Paul L. Nestor Award – one of the top awards given to University staff
- Jamie Wheeler (A&S Advising) won NACADA’s National Advisor of the Year award
As we look towards the future, there is no other way to state that the 2012-13 academic year will be a difficult one. The ensuing budget cuts will be painful. Over the last several weeks I have gathered the academic leadership of the College – the department chairs, program directors, and executive committee members – to begin to understand the scope of the issues in front of us. These conversations will continue throughout the summer, with our hope to have a College-wide discussion when school resumes in August. At this point, we don’t have answers. What I can promise is that we will address this problem collectively, lead by our shared academic values and shared academic governance. In my mind, this is the most critical starting point.
To this end, we have created an electronic way for everyone in the College to offer suggestions as well as evaluate ideas. Click on the following link: http://ideas.as.uky.edu and add your voice and ideas to helping us become more efficient and effective in the work we all do.
I am also heartened by the thought that in such times as these the liberal arts tradition of thought is never more useful and important. Whatever path we carve for our colletive future, I know that it will have been developed out of a nuanced thought process based in humanistic values and understanding and rational inquiry and investigation. Every year we read stories in the national media about employers preferring liberal arts graduates over the long-term because they are trained to be creative, problem solvers with breadth and depth, and able to see connections across discrete ideas and issues. We are an entire college filled with such people. Although the coming months will be difficult, with hard choices to be made as certain priorities are elevated over others, we will do it with our values stated clearly, with thoughtful discussion, and ultimately with an outcome that reaffirms who we are and what we want to become.
I am immensely honored to be counted among you all as a colleague. I will work hard for you this summer, and I deeply appreciate all that you have done this past year for the College.