University of Kentucky announces fundraising campaign

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) A fundraising campaign will create thousands of scholarships to expand access to education at the University of Kentucky and to dramatically accelerate UK’s efforts to solve the Commonwealth’s most challenging health and economic issues.

The $2.1 billion campaign – “Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign” – was announced Friday night at a special event attended by hundreds of friends of the university at the Bill Gatton Student Center.

Specifically, the “Kentucky Can” campaign will focus on three major areas of support:

  • Funding 2,100 UK LEADS and other scholarships to ensure that more Kentuckians have access to a UK education and that they can graduate on time with reduced debt. The highly successful UK LEADS program is a nationally heralded initiative to eliminate financial need as an impediment to attending and graduating from the university.


  • Endowing efforts – particularly between and among academic and research disciplines – that focus on solving the state’s most pressing challenges. Kentucky, for example, is among the nation’s leaders in opioid overdoses and deaths as well as many cancers, heart disease and diabetes.


  • Growing the university’s endowment from about $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion in gifts, future commitments and investments, as part of an effort to fund recruitment and retention of leading scholars and continue to support development programs and initiatives that provide a foundation for the work of faculty, staff and students.

UK says they have already raised more than $1 billion toward the campaign goal. Over the next few months, kick-off events will be held in a number of cities in the region and across the country to expand fundraising efforts.

UK’s previous comprehensive campaign raised $1 billion, concluding in 2007. It focused largely on endowed faculty positions and supporting continued infrastructure development.

This campaign is distinctive, said Campaign Co-Chair Mira Ball, for its specific focus on eliminating student debt and expanding affordable access to a UK education for more Kentuckians

Campaign Co-Chair Paul Chellgren said the scope of the campaign reflects the integral role UK plays in supporting the Commonwealth’s future and addressing the challenges that exist.

The campaign also comes at a critical juncture for the university, said Mike Richey, UK’s vice president for philanthropy and alumni engagement. In the last seven years, under Capilouto’s leadership, UK has started or completed some $2.3 billion in construction of new residence halls, laboratories and classrooms, clinical care support and athletics facilities – an effort to transform the campus and to position it for growth in education, research, service and health care.

The institution, Richey said, has a strategic plan that contemplates record retention and graduation rates and an aggressive expansion of its health care and research capacity toward solving Kentucky’s most serious challenges.

Investment in facilities is part of the equation, he said. So, too, is significant investment in students, staff and scholars and the tools they need to succeed.

For more information about “Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign,” go to:


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