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Brilliant minds, leading programs

Region’s educators improving facilities to elevate already-impressive outcomes

By Kathie Stamps

Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond broke ground in January 2018 on its new student recreation and wellness center.

In Central Kentucky, grade schools have a renewed focus on preparing students for college and workforce readiness, while post-secondary institutions are infusing capital expenditures into new and expanded instructional buildings and other infrastructure.

In fall 2017, Ford Motor Co. named Lexington one of its 40 “Next Generation Learning” communities. There is no funding for the NGL initiative, but Ford is now a “thought partner” with Fayette County Public Schools and has helped guide the process of establishing The Academies of Lexington. Three high schools — Bryan Station, Frederick Douglass and Tates Creek — now have NGL programs including an academy of engineering, mathematics and robotics and an academy of health sciences.

Also, since early 2017, Junior Achievement of the Bluegrass has helped 7,619 students in Fayette and surrounding counties experience business learning through its “JA BizTown” for fifth-graders and “JA Finance Park” for students in grades 7 to 12. Storefront partners for JA BizTown on Spurr Road include Chick-fil-A, Forcht Bank, iHeart Media, Keeneland, Kentucky Coal Association, KentuckyOne Health, Kentucky Society of CPAs, Kentucky Utilities, Lexington Herald-Leader, Scanlon Family Philanthropy Center, Toyota, UK HealthCare, University of Kentucky, UPS and WLEX-TV (LEX18).

Providing solid education for young students propels them to greater heights as they think about life post high school graduation – and Central Kentucky has stellar options for them to continue their learning.

For more than a decade, math and science students at Asbury University in Wilmore have achieved a 100 percent acceptance rate for graduate school. The school raised nearly $20 million to build a new Collaborative Learning Center to house programs in business, health, math and science. Asbury is the only university in America with a police horse training program conducted by the students as part of its top-notch equine studies. As of fall 2018, Asbury has two new master of fine arts degrees, screenwriting and film & television production, and an online bachelor’s degree in social work.

A little farther south in Danville, Centre College in March 2018 had already surpassed its $200 million capital campaign goal as part of the Third Century Campaign. Centre’s 195th commencement exercises in May graduated 330 seniors, at a four-year graduation rate of 82 percent, among the highest in the nation. Construction began in early July on a new 184-bed residence hall, set to be complete by fall 2019. The school’s growth is for good reason. The 83 percent acceptance rate in 2018 for first-time medical school applicants who graduated from Centre College is among the nation’s best.

In Richmond at Eastern Kentucky University, two new residence halls opened for the 2017-18 academic year at EKU in time for a near record-high total enrollment of 16,612. Also new on campus are Scholar House for single parents and the second phase of the Science Building, which gives the school the largest science facility on any college or university in Kentucky. A new student recreation center is scheduled for completion in November 2019.

Moving soon to Woodford County, Frontier Nursing University was established in 1939 in Hyden, Ky., and is the largest and longest continually operating nurse-midwifery program in the United States. In October 2017, the school purchased 67 acres in Versailles and is in the process of securing a general contractor for a new campus, with an anticipated completion date of 2020.

Morehead State University has an enrollment of more than 10,500 students from 115 Kentucky counties, 46 states and 28 countries and later this year will see the grand reopening of the $49.5 million renovation of Adron Doran University Center. MSU was recently named a “Best of the Best Top Veteran-Friendly School by U.S. Veterans magazine.

Spencerian College and Sullivan University merged in June 2018, expanding Sullivan’s portfolio of medical programs in Central Kentucky to include medical assisting, medical lab technician and radiographic technology. There is much more.

“The culinary program is the largest of these and probably the most widely recognized because Sullivan’s culinary and hospitality graduates are working in restaurants throughout Central Kentucky and the world,” said David Tutor, vice president of the Lexington campus.

Commonwealth of Kentucky’s flagship University of Kentucky in Lexington has grown from $2.7 billion to $3.9 billion in total operations since 2011 and has conferred 55.9 percent more bachelor’s degrees in the same time period in engineering, health, math, science and technology. Enrollment is around 30,500.

UK’s housing partnership supported more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs for those in construction, contracting and supplier industries. In the past seven years, the university has spent $3.7 billion with Kentucky companies. Recent construction projects include the Gatton College of Business and Economics, the Gatton Student Center, the Jacobs Science Building, Kroger Field, Nutter Training Center, 14 state-of-the-art residence halls and the continued expansion of UK HealthCare. A $265 million multidisciplinary research facility will open this fall.

UK employs more than 13,500 full-time people, paying more than $100 million in state and local taxes. External research funding to the university resulted in $241 million in state taxes and more than 3,400 jobs across the commonwealth.