Realizing our Priorities

By Eli Capilouto

At 3 p.m. today, Tuesday August 18th, we will welcome members of our campus and community to tour three new residence halls on our campus, Woodland Glen III, IV and V. The projects surround Woodland Glen I and II, which we opened last year, and mark the completion of the new Woodland Glen community - a major milestone in our campus transformation.

Our priorities are guided by a single principle - to provide the best environment for the UK family to live, learn, create and heal. We've made extraordinary progress across campus, and there is still more work to do.

At 2 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19th, we will unveil the new Lyman T. Johnson Hall. Joined by members of the Johnson family and several university leaders, we are naming Central 1 Residence Hall after this historic figure in the institution’s history. We hope that you can join us for this important occasion.

Phase II-C is underway for Limestone Park I and II, and the Board of Trustees recently approved Phase III – University Flats. In total, the completed and approved projects will add more than 6,500 beds across 13 facilities by Fall 2017.

But our transformation is not limited to new residence halls.

The Gatton College of Business and Economics is nearing the completion of its first phase and expansion, creating one of the finest business facilities in the country with high-tech classrooms, a simulated trading floor, and places for our campus to congregate and exchange ideas. This fall, the College of Fine Arts’ School of Art and Visual Studies will move into its new home on Bolivar Street. This space is a 21st century artistic laboratory that fosters collaborative projects, with student and faculty studios housed close together.

The $120 million Commonwealth Stadium project will help kick off a new era of UK Football and the 2015 SEC season. The construction and expansion of the Nutter Training Facility continues. These two projects, combined with the realignment of Alumni Drive and the FEMA flood mitigation project near the Arboretum will dramatically transform the south end of the campus.

Earlier this month, the University "topped off" the Academic Science Building—a space in which students will experience and engage with science—by laying the last structural steel beam. Next fall, we will open this new facility where students will have access to hands-on learning in various scientific disciplines.

Several projects are underway in UK HealthCare, and with the support of the Kentucky General Assembly, we are in the planning phase for a new multidisciplinary research building. These projects are critical to UK’s long-term academic, research and health care missions.

Anchored by the largest single gift in the University’s history, and state authorization to self-finance the project, we started construction on the $175 million expansion and renovation of the Student Center. Having our student center offline will create a challenge in available space for campus programming in the interim, but the entire University is making a collective lift to minimize the impact. Because of the many Wildcats inside and outside the University who make this project possible, we will open one of the nation's best facilities in January 2018.

We reached important milestones in our $245 million dining partnership with Aramark. We announced the Food Connection at UK – an academic partnership with Aramark and the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment to strengthen the local food economy. We are purchasing and serving more locally sourced food in our dining halls, and we will open “The 90,” a modern 82,000 square foot dining facility that also provides spaces for academic programs supporting residential communities on south campus. A special ribbon cutting will be held at “The 90” at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, August 19th.

In total, over the last four years, UK has initiated – and largely self-financed – more than $1.81 billion to add or improve more than 5 million square feet in capital investment that enhances the academic, research, service and health care missions of the institution while maintaining a strong balance sheet and not placing a financial burden on the state.

This is a top priority we set together more than four years ago. It's part of our vision to be among the nation's best providers of higher education, transformative research and scholarship, and excellent health care guided by a commitment to serve others. Our efforts to build a campus to support and enrich this work in ways never before imagined are only one part of this process, but we can already see the powerful ways it will carry us to the prosperity and productivity for which we aim.

I hope you can join us on Tuesday and Wednesday to mark this extraordinary progress.

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