Invitation: On the Table Community Dialog at UK

On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, please join in for a unique opportunity to gather around a table here at UK with friends, colleagues, or students and have a real conversation about what’s important to each of us about our community.

On The Table - Your voice matters. Join us on March 28!

On the Table is a one-day community-wide dialog that takes place around small tables across Lexington.  The initiative is sponsored by the Blue Grass Community Foundation (BGCF) in partnership with Lexington Fayette Urban County government, the University of Kentucky, and community organizations throughout our city.

During the first On the Table event in March 2017, over 11,000 participants came together around 1,200 tables throughout Fayette County to discuss not only what’s great about our community, but ways to make it even better — more engaged, dynamic, and vibrant.  Those conversations helped inform Lexington’s Comprehensive Plan. Here’s a 2-minute video from the 2017 conversations:

Like last year, we’ll share our experiences and hear about others’ experiences.  We’ll learn about what matters to each of us.  We’ll talk about ways to build and maintain the neighborhoods and community we desire.  We’ll connect.  And, we’ll ask ourselves how we can impact the future of Lexington through individual and collective civic action.

The conversation continues on Wednesday, March 28, and we invite YOU to participate!

We invite you to host a table, or just participate around one, sometime during the day.  We would love to see conversations across our campus among students, faculty, and staff – in classrooms, department conference rooms, residence halls, and Greek and student organizations.  We will have a specific UK question that explores how we as a campus can better engage with our community.  We look forward to seeing the results!

To register as a table host or as a participant, please go to  (Note: If you register here, you do not need to register on the BGCF On the Table webpage).

We hope you can participate!  Please feel free to contact Todd Stolzfus, Program Director for Civic Engagement (email or phone 257-4673), if you have questions.

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SALutations! Spring Semester

I hope everyone is well on their way to a highly successful and enjoyable spring semester. The University of Kentucky campus is currently celebrating Black History Month with a wide variety of opportunities for everyone to participate.


Now that the drop/add date for this semester has passed, we can report a fall-to-spring semester retention rate of 93.7% for the first-year cohort that started at UK last fall. A tremendous campus-wide effort went into reaching this student success milestone. We should all take pride in this achievement as we all play a role in student success.

At the same time, we still have work to do.

Historically, a larger percentage of the first-year cohort fail to return for the following fall term.  Last year, our fall-to-fall retention rate for the 2016 first-time full-time freshman cohort was 83.3% (their fall-to-spring retention was 93%).

The University of Kentucky has a goal of 90% fall-to-fall retention for the 2019 first-year cohort, so the next few months will be critical as we continue our work together.

Freshman Experience

Drew Koch headshot from JNGI website

Dr. Drew Koch, President & COO, John N. Gardner Institute

On January 19, we hosted a Student Success Summit to launch the Wildcat Foundations effort. Drew Koch, President and Chief Operating Officer at the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education, provided a keynote address titled Redesigning Foundational Experiences for More Equitable First-Year Student Success.

Drew provided a copy of his slides (download .pptx file here); and given the overflow audience, we also live streamed and recorded the talk (watch YouTube video here). Following the talk, the more than 200 attendees broke up into subcommittees around the nine foundational dimensions associated with the Foundations of Excellence process that form the basis of the Wildcat Foundations effort.

If you’d like to participate, there is still time to get involved. Check out the Wildcat Foundations website, and please contact project director Grace Hahn (

College Party Culture

On college campuses around the country, including the University of Kentucky, there are ongoing conversations around how the college party culture affects the health and well-being of our students. Jason M. Lindo, Peter Siminski, and Isaac D. Swensen are economists who recently studied the mechanisms through which partying may increase the incidence of sexual assault.

Their results are presented in the paper “College Party Culture and Sexual Assault,” American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 2018, 10(1): 236–265. This paper is free and open for all to download and read.

CPR Training Saves Lives

In the case of cardiac arrest, the earliest intervention is crucial (see the ScienceDaily article on this topic here). And early intervention is something anyone can do. Campus Recreation and Wellness is offering free training that includes basic first aid, hands only CPR, along with an overview of the use of the automated external defibrillators (AEDs) located throughout campus. This training is intended to provide basic skills related to managing emergency situations; it does not lead to certification. Three identical training classes are scheduled for 8:30 am–10:30 am on Feb. 14, Feb. 28 and April 4.  All classes will be in Seaton Center, Room 119.

Please register for the training using your Link Blue ID.  Classes are limited to 20 participants, so departments that want to do this as a group should register early for the same class. If you have any questions, please contact Ron Lee, Director, Campus Recreation and Wellness (

Verbal Judo

Verbal Judo bookcoverIn Verbal Judo: The Gentle Art of Persuasion, George Thompson and Jerry Jenkins describe this de-escalation training technique as a “martial art of the mind and mouth that can help you defuse confrontations and generate cooperation.”  They further note that “when you react, the event controls you. When you respond, you’re in control.”

Major Nathan Brown, a member of the UK Police Department, will coordinate this training being offered to all SAL employees (but open to anyone) on Thursday, Feb. 15, from 9-11:30 a.m. and on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 8:30-11 a.m. in 200 McVey Hall. At the very least, if you operate a reception desk as a part of your unit, I hope that you will consider sending those who staff the desk to this training, but please feel free to send others as well.  Please RSVP your spot by sending an email to Terri Runyon ( and indicate which session you plan to attend.

Thank you,

Greg Heileman
Associate Provost for Student & Academic Life

View SALutations! archived newsletters here.

I welcome any feedback you’d like to provide. Once again, my hope is that every complaint is accompanied by proposed solutions, and that we always remember to celebrate our successes. Please feel free to send your comments to

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Facing Change Week

1st Annual Facing Change Week, April 2-6, 2018This just in from Jamari Michael White, social justice educator in Bias Incident Support Services (BISS):

During the week of April 2-6, 2018, Bias Incident Support Services in collaboration with a number of campus and community partners will be offering Facing Change Week, a week-long program of events and opportunities for University of Kentucky students, staff, and faculty to connect, engage, and be challenged around issues of diversity, belonging, and social justice!

With the theme, Starting Somewhere, Facing Change Week will comprise activities, such as workshops, dialogues, guest speakers, experiential activities, and community art events, aimed at inviting members of our community to connect with and participate in UK’s pillar of Belonging and Engagement (see more about the four pillars of UK’s Academic Excellence here), and the UK Counseling Center’s commitment to inclusive excellence.

A full schedule of events will be forthcoming later in February, so please follow us on InstagramTwitter, and check back on the Facing Change Week website for the latest updates!!!

If you, your university office, or student organization are interested in partnering or volunteering, please contact Jamari White at

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
― James Baldwin

Jamari Michael White, MSW
Pronouns: He/Him/His
Social Justice Educator
University of Kentucky Bias Incident Support Services
Frazee Hall, Lower Level, Suite 4

How have you contributed to a culture of belonging today?

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UK’s John Thelin on History of 1965 Higher Education Act

U.S. CapitolThe National History Center has announced they will offer a Congressional Briefing on the History of the Higher Education Act of 1965. The briefing will take place in Washington D.C. in the Rayburn House Office Building, room 2060, on Friday, February 16 at 11:30 a.m. Together with Arnita Jones of American University serving as moderator, the two featured speakers are:

See more information about this program on the NHC website.

If you can’t get to Washington D.C. to see the Congressional Briefing in person, stay tuned – you can eventually see the recording once it is posted on the NHC website at:

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Capilouto speaks out on how UK is investing in KY education

If you haven’t yet seen President Eli Capilouto’s guest editorial “Investing in Kentucky education is good bet on state’s future” in the Louisville Courier-Journal (22 January 2018), it’s worth taking a moment to look.

Mary Lynn and Eli Capilouto with two students at Dance BluePresident Capilouto writes of how UK will plan for the future — even with budget cuts looming — around “three pillars of a renewed compact with the Commonwealth:”

  1. Continue being “an essential partner in the state’s economic development,” especially paying attention to new business and industry coming to Kentucky.
  2. Continue being “a leader in finding solutions to health-care challenges,” considering UK’s role as a public research institution that has Kentucky’s only tertiary-care hospital here on campus for innovative and unique partnerships between practitioners, pure research, bench science and learners from all walks of life.
  3. “We should educate more students, ensuring they are equipped to learn for life in jobs they will create.”

This last (but not least) pillar is an ambitious one for those of us in the realm of undergraduate education here at UK. President Capilouto emphasized his remarks with the vision of UK’s graduation numbers being nearly twice that of what we expect this spring: an impressive goal of 10,000 graduates in a year. In 2016-2017, last academic year’s graduation numbers for UK were highest of all the universities in Kentucky:

Academic Year 2016-2017
Degree Level
Number of Degrees Awarded at UK
Baccalaureate 4,636
Master’s/Specialist’s 1,181
Doctoral 892
Undergraduate/Graduate Certificates 239
TOTAL 6,948

He went on to summarize some of the great work happening in UK undergraduate education:

  • Increased the number of bachelor’s degrees by nearly 25% since 2011. “UK has accounted for nearly 40 percent of Kentucky’s increase in degree production.”
  • Graduated nearly 36% more low-income students and over 120% more underrepresented minority students.
  • Increased the number of baccalaureate degrees in STEM+H majors by nearly 56%.

And while the rest of UK’s peers are seeing declines in enrollment, President Capilouto says he wants UK to buck that trend. We know that UK’s role in increasing the numbers of graduates in job sectors that are growing is crucial, especially as our state is one of the neediest for a highly educated workforce. We know that beyond our role in raising the economic indicators in our state, and more importantly, he says, UK has a “moral imperative” to sustain this growth.

As President Capilouto concludes in the article, it is “time to double down on dreaming big.”

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Crisis of Confidence

Strada-Gallup 2017 College Student Survey report front pageHave you seen the recent report “Crisis of Confidence: Current College Students Do Not Feel Prepared for the Workforce” from Gallup and Strada Education Network? They surveyed more than 32,000 students from 42 randomly selected four-year institutions and asked about their readiness to launch a career after graduation.

Here’s how students felt about their career readiness, according to the survey:

  • About 36% of students they will graduate with the skills and knowledge to be successful in the workplace;
  • Just 53% of students believe their major will lead to a good job; and
  • Only 28% of liberal arts majors are confident they will get a good job after graduation, compared to 62% of STEM majors.

This last point shows evidence of the current political climate, and – given the need for liberal arts majors in every workforce sector, including STEM – deserves our close attention. While the survey exposes students’ lack of confidence in their career outcomes, we can also think about new ways to boost students’ confidence.

About 57% of students who said a professor or staff member initiated a conversation with them about jobs felt confident in their career outlook. Not all faculty members feel empowered to discuss career aspirations with their students, so it is important that we find ways to cross the gap between career counseling, advising professional staff and our teaching faculty.

Even if we don’t know much about a particular career cluster of jobs, we can help students practice at describing what skills and experiences they bring to a rewarding career. We know that even just a few interactions with a mentoring professional can have a big impact in a student’s confidence. See for example the recent article by Becky Supiano, “Relationships Are Central to the College Experience: Can Colleges Engineer Them?” in the Chronicle of Higher Education (14 January 2018).

A major contribution each of us can make to to convince our students that the University of Kentucky is committed to helping with our students’ future job prospects.

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Diversity – a Foundational Dimension for First-Year Students

It’s always fun to see what is happening out in the STEM workforce and how they are continuing to learn who they are and what they value. That way we can, here at UK, help our students prepare best for what they are seeking – whether they are looking for a job specifically in the STEM fields or not. Google image from Washington Post

A recent article by Valerie Strauss in The Washington PostThe Surprising Thing Google Learned About Its Employees – And What It Means For Today’s Students,” described what they learned about their highly touted workforce. The most valuable skills were not, as one might imagine, the “hard” skills of the use of technologies, programming or data analytics. Instead:

… the best teams at Google exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard. (Strauss, 20 December 2017)

This is a range of skills that any and every course offered at the University could teach – and especially in the majors’ introductory and their capstone courses. It should be noted that the above list is not something that faculty or teaching staff must do for the students. It is more important for the classroom design – and the course learning outcomes – include the development of students’ skills, especially those which are evidenced in a way by which each student can contribute to others’ “emotional safety.” We can, as instructors, unknowingly reinforce students’ well-honed “bullying” skills, i.e., by responding primarily and repeatedly to those who put their hand up in class when asked for contributions, by watching passively as a student-led debate goes off into a series of personal confrontations between a verbally facile few, by presenting examples from one’s disciplinary field that end up being representative only of the elite.

The new initiative led by the Division of Student and Academic Life, Wildcat Foundations, includes a focus on Diversity as a foundational dimension. We often hear the word “diversity” and imagine it to mean ethnicity/race, gender, SES demographics in higher education, but what the word “diversity” means for the Wildcat Foundations is more about the kind of evidences from skill-building like described above. In other words, supporting – especially our first-year students – to be more open to diverse ideas and worldviews. That they seek out and are curious about responses from people with backgrounds or cultures that are different from their own. They will want to reach out in group settings and ensure that every “team member” feels valued, confident (even if it means making a mistake) and safe here and now. The UK faculty and staff must role-model and mentor this skill, too. We all would have high expectations for the students around us to demonstrate the skills necessary for growing and nurturing a diverse community of thinkers.

As our UK Bias Incident Response Coordinator, Carol Taylor-Shim, always asks: “How have you contributed to a culture of belonging today?”

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HDI CATS – Center for Assistive Technology Services

HDI CATS logoThe Human Development Institute (HDI) at the University of Kentucky has announced their grand opening of a new regional assistive technology center. The HDI Center for Assistive Technology Services (CATS) offers a lending library of assistive devices, training around assistive technology, and demonstration of devices. An assistive technology is any item or piece of equipment (both low-tech and high-tech) used to improve and/or maintain independence in the home, at work, school or play.

HDI CATS is a member of the Kentucky Assistive Technology Services (KATS) Network, which serves as the Assistive Technology Act Program for the State of Kentucky and whose mission is to make assistive technology information, devices and services easily obtainable

Bard headshot

Christina Espinosa Bard

HDI CATS will serve Kentuckians throughout the central Bluegrass and they offer research and service opportunities to students, staff and faculty at UK. HDI CATS is located at 2358 Nicholasville Road, Suite 180 (view Google map here) Lexington, KY 40503.  You can call 859-218-7979 and follow HDI CATS on Facebook.

For more information, contact

Christina Espinosa Bard, MRC, CRC
Community Education Director


Jones headshot

Dr. Kathy Sheppherd-Jones

Dr. Kathy Sheppard-Jones
Executive Director

Human Development Institute

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Black Student Success – webinar, Feb 14 at 2 pm

On February 14, 2018 from 2pm-3:30pm the Office of Institutional Diversity in partnership with Student and Academic Life will host a webinar, Black Student Success On Your Campus:  Increase Recruitment, Retention, Engagement and Completion. 

This webinar will be held on Whitehall Classroom Building, Room 212.  You do not have to RSVP for this event – but it will be of great help in raising awareness about day-to-day inequities and getting everyone to think about their answer to the question often asked: “How have you contributed to a culture of belonging today?” For more information about this event, contact Carol Taylor-Shim, Bias Incident Response Coordinator, 257-3189.

Please see below for more detailed information about the webinar:

The more inclusive and equitable your campus is, the better your student recruitment, retention and engagement will be. Institutions need to be proactive in their approach to create a more welcoming environment and ensure black student satisfaction by recognizing the unique differences, experiences and struggles they face both on and off campus. What real changes must my institution make to be more responsive to Black students’ needs? What can you do to be more than an ally and truly advocate on their behalf?

Dr. Ryan C. Holmes

Dr. Ryan C. Holmes, Assoc. VP, Student Affairs and Dean of Students, University of Miami

Join us on February 14, 2018, and our expert presenter, Dr. Ryan C. Holmes, will address those questions and the challenges your Black students face daily, as well as strategies for how to help overcome them. Explore how current events impact your Black students and analyze the similarities of history and current campus climates to help your students seek answers to their concerns not readily provided by your institution.

Topics Covered:

  • Ensure your institution is truly responsive to the needs of your Black students – avoid being complicit and take intentional action to address and positively impact their experience on your campus so that they succeed and graduate.
  • Create campus structures and systems that provide support for Black students – utilize more than just Black professionals on campus to advocate for and support black student satisfaction, engagement, and persistence.
  • Understand racial theory in America – move past these stigmas so you can provide access to needed care and support in a way that resonates with this unique population.
  • Foster a collaborative and proactive approach to recruit Black students – address campus culture and environment prior to their arrival to ensure that their experiences mirror your institutions’ mission and values.
  • Recognize the continuous impact to Black students on campus and allow safe opportunities for them to express themselves – avoid silencing their voices, continued marginalization, low retention, and an increase disapproval ratings.


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Room to Grow: Get Students Ready with Real-World Skills

From a recent survey of administrators, faculty and non-teaching staff in institutions of higher education, Campus Technology came up with some ideas on how we might apply technology technology to help students prepare for the “real world” of work. All instructional staff, whether in a formal classroom or somewhere else on campus, could support this kind of effort. The survey respondents felt that the top 10 ways that we might engage students with technology in a way that readies them for the workplace are these:

  1. Guest lectures by industry experts (46%)
  2. Computer skills training (44%)
  3. Unpaid internships (40%)
  4. Streaming video (39%)
  5. Student use of profession-related software applications (38%)
  6. Paid internships (38%)
  7. Student-selected research projects (38%)
  8. Opportunities to work on job-related projects for course credit (34%)
  9. Equipment training (33%)
  10. Soft-skills development (28%)

They also indicated six “Barriers to Digital Success,” i.e., what was holding them back from applying technology in innovative ways with students:

6 Barriers to Digital SuccessOf course funding is crucial for technology-based instruction to happen – and yet resources might also come from reallocation of current resources from one strategy to another. Here are some ideas from the survey respondents that might not take any funding at all – just a focused intentional commitment and time:

  • Hire faculty and staff who have work experience off campus before starting their careers in higher education.
  • Familiarize faculty and teaching staff with updated methods and uses of various technologies in business and industry.
  • Create “integration sessions” with faculty, students and employers to discuss alignment of the university and industry with technology that the higher education institution requires.
  • When collaborating across the university and with business/industry, rather than writing out notes with bullet points, replace these with interaction, online resources, and cutting-edge labs.

For more details about the survey and ideas generated, see the complimentary infographic offered by Campus Technology Resources.

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