UK President reflects on 2020 and looks ahead to future of university

By Rachel Nix, Building Kentucky

President Eli Capilouto highlighted the ‘grace and grit’ of University of Kentucky students and staff in 2020 in recent remarks.

Capilouto reflected with pride on the year to the university’s Board of Trustees in mid-December. The speech looked back on a historic semester for UK navigating a global pandemic and looked ahead at what’s next.

“Our students overcame challenges — and made sacrifices — that most generations of students don’t face,” said Capilouto. “They wore masks and distanced from each other. They limited gatherings, changed the way they learned, and in fact, changed almost every aspect of daily life on a campus, so they could be here.”

He said that quickly pivoting to online learning was a massive undertaking for the university – but the passion and dedication of faculty and students made it work in 2020. This included moving thousands of pieces of furniture to allow space for distancing, installing 30,000 signs to encourage healthy behaviors and many other quiet but impactful tasks across campus.

Robust COVID-19 testing and contract tracing programs were developed. In total, the university invested more than $40 million to create and support systems to keep the campus safe and healthy.

With relief on the horizon and vaccines beginning distribution, Capilouto is hopeful and energized for the future of the University of Kentucky. President Capilouto mentioned the university’s dedication to its students, teachers and the greater community through equality, opportunity and fairness.

“We bring to our state our intellectual capacity and commitment – to teach, to heal, to help,” he said. “But we also infuse in everything we do our sense of compassion and empathy – our soul – which drives us to make tomorrow better and more just than today.”

Capilouto has been President of the University of Kentucky since 2011.

Read the full remarks online.

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