Merriam-Webster: Salutation [sal-yuh-tey-shuh n].
An expression of greeting, goodwill or courtesy.
Welcome to the first edition of SALutations, a bi-weekly brief from the Division of Student and Academic Life (SAL) at the University of Kentucky. As a part of the university’s commitment to openness and transparency, I will use these briefs to keep the university community informed about the work of SAL, and to solicit feedback regarding matters of student life and academic success
On August 1, 2017, I began serving as the Associate Provost for SAL, reporting to Provost Tim Tracy. I came to UK from the University of New Mexico, where I spent 27 years on the faculty, moving from assistant to full professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering. My last administrative appointment at UNM was as the Vice Provost for Teaching, Learning and Innovation. In this role I was responsible for leading and supporting strategic priorities related to teaching and learning, including a wide variety of student success initiatives.
Why did I come here & what does SAL do?
A key objective in UK’s 2015-2020 Strategic Plan is undergraduate student success, as measured by lofty retention and graduation rate goals. These goals also include a commitment to significantly narrow the graduation gap between the student population as a whole and select groups, including under-represented minorities, students who are the first in their family to attend college, and students who have significant financial needs. In order to reach these goals a number of strategic initiatives were articulated. UK leadership felt that in order to most effectively address these initiatives, a reorganization of the student-focused groups within the Provost Office was required (see Transforming Academic Excellence). Provost Tracy described the need for the reorganization as follows, “today, we have too many islands of effort, where instead we need a seamless and integrated organizational structure among all our units in support of students and their success.” The full Herald-Leader story is here. The reason I chose to come to UK is simple, I believe in the student success vision that has been articulated, I recognized that the resources necessary to achieve it back the vision, and I was challenged by the bold goals that were set. Attainment of these goals will place UK among the top public universities in the United States.
In future briefs I will describe in more detail each of the units that comprise SAL, as well as the philosophies that guide our work.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. While reading a wonderful book about the history of Lexington, Lexington: Queen of the Bluegrass, by our very own Randolph Hollingsworth, I was intrigued to learn a few interesting facts about the name of the building I’m housed in, McVey Hall. Frank L. McVey was the third president of the University of Kentucky, serving this institution for 23 years, from 1917-1940. In 1921, a movement led by William Jennings Bryan attempted to pass a law making it illegal to teach evolution in Kentucky universities. President McVey put his job on the line by weighing in on the subject. His efforts contributed to the defeat of the anti-evolution bill by a 42-41 vote in the state legislature. Prof. Arthur Miller from the UK Department of Geology submitted an account of the proceedings that appeared in Vol. 55, Issue 1421 of Science on March 24, 1922. Contentious politics and razor-thin voting margins are not unique to our time.
Early feedback is critical for students’ academic success, particularly first-year students. For students who miss a number of classes or have poor performance on a test or quiz, the submission of an alert is a critical part of that feedback. The new alert management system, ACT, allows UK to align students with academic resources, track interventions, and partner with offices across campus. Learn more.
If you or your family have been impacted by this catastrophe, please visit this link for a list of the UK and non-UK resources available to you.
The UK community has been incredible in welcoming my wife, Jeri, and me to Lexington. The warm and generous Wildcat welcome we have received makes it clear that UK is a very special place. We look forward to growing friendships and a life in Lexington. I welcome any feedback you’d like to provide. My hope is that every complaint is accompanied by proposed solutions, and that we also remember to celebrate our successes. Please feel free to send your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gregory L. Heileman, Ph.D.
Associate Provost for Student & Academic Life
230 McVey Hall
All the SALutations newsletters are posted here: