UK named an Innovation and Economic Prosperity University by the Association of Public Land-grant Universities

By Lilli Dubler, Building Kentucky

Photo by Mark Cornelison, UK Photo

In recognition of its ongoing commitment to economic development, the University of Kentucky has been designated as an Innovation and Economic Prosperity (IEP) University by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). The national designation acknowledges public research universities working with both public and private sector partners in their states and regions to support economic development and community engagement.

“Economic development is a major pillar of universities’ work,” said APLU President Mark Becker. “From talent development to pathbreaking research to entrepreneurship and beyond, institutions have a central role to play in economic development. We’re pleased to recognize UK for its commitment to engaging its community around these issues to advance regional economic development.”

 UK received the designation after an independent panel approved its application, a process which included an internal review and analysis of the institution’s economic engagement activities, as well as input from external stakeholders. The panel included representatives from other universities, in addition to national and regional partners. UK was scored based on criteria that emphasized the development of its economic engagement activities, planning efforts and strategic communication around economic engagement and participation in encouraging economic engagement among peer institutions.

“There are so many facets of the University of Kentucky dedicated to the economic development of Kentucky,” said UK Economic Development Collaborative Chair George Ward. “This designation affirms our diverse efforts. It gives us inspiration and motivation to keep moving forward with our land-grant, flagship university mission of fostering innovation and driving economic growth for Kentucky.”

As part of the self-study conducted with external stakeholders that was central to the designation process, UK identified three areas of institutional strength in economic engagement, including:

Officials also identified areas for growth and improvement for the university’s economic engagement and developed an improvement plan. This work demonstrated a commitment to continuous learning and advancement in economic engagement. These areas include:

  • Elevating the overall stature of business engagement at UK to enhance the institution’s accessibility and to integrate workforce development in curricular and co-curricular activities.
  • Improving both internal and external communication of the EDC’s work to highlight how UK has contributed to economic engagement in the Commonwealth.
  • Expanding UK’s reach – in multiple disciplines – to every county in Kentucky by following the extension service model from the UK Martin-Gatton College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, which includes expanding programming on UK Online.

Institutions that have received the IEP designation have reported significant advancement of their efforts due to the stakeholder engagement and self-study efforts undertaken in conjunction with the program. They are leveraging their status as Innovation and Economic Prosperity universities to identify new areas of opportunity in aligning with economic development objectives.

The APLU will formally recognize and celebrate UK and other IEP-designated universities at its annual meeting Nov. 12-14 in Seattle, Washington.

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