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Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

Meeting of the Minds
University of Kentucky faculty with endowed professorships gathered for the first ever Sept. 22 at the Hilary Boone Center faculty club as part of an administration effort to create opportunities for interdisciplinary research collaboration.

University of Kentucky administrators began the new knowledge management initiative with a reception for the school’s endowed chair professors. The idea is to promote interdisciplinary collaboration among these top professors by creating opportunities for them to get to know each other.

“We need to let our best people know our best people,” UK President Lee Todd told those who attended. This can be a challenge since academics are often described as operating in “silos” submerged within their knowledge specialization. Todd referred to the book, “If We Only Knew What We Know,” by Carla O’Dell and C. Jackson Grayson Jr. regarding business organizations’ efforts to avoid reinventing the wheel.

Endowed chairs are professorships for which an outside donation has created an endowment that provides an additional stipend. It’s a plum that goes to top academics. Among its faculty of nearly 2,100, UK has more than 250 such positions, a number that’s grown fivefold since the state Bucks for Brains program was launched in 1997.

In addition to monthly receptions, UK is establishing an endowed chairs lunch table at the Hilary Boone Center faculty club, creating library space there for endowed faculty’s books and an experts resource mechanism so that not only the university community but residents of the commonwealth and beyond can find and make use of the research findings of UK faculty.

The University of Louisville also has had a program to facilitate endowed faculty interaction and collaboration.

Food for Thought
An educated, skilled workforce is the best arrow in our quiver in the ongoing fight to bring jobs to Kentucky and raise incomes. That is why we issue a good corporate citizen kudo to McDonald’s of Central and Southeastern Kentucky.

It has partnered with Kentucky Adult Education for a fourth year to encourage GED attainment with an in-store promotion funded by the restaurant owners. In September, customers at 66 stores in the Bluegrass Purchasing Association, a 33-county cooperative of McDonald’s restaurants, saw tray liners with a “GED – Prove Yourself” theme featuring Kentucky GED graduates (congrats to each of them, too).

Kentucky Adult Education (kyae.ky.gov) works to raise educational attainment in the commonwealth. KAE centers provide free GED instruction, workforce education, English as a Second Language and literacy services. Private-sector partners are key in messaging the value of education, said Reecie Stagnolia, vice president for KAE, which is a unit of the Council on Postsecondary Education.

“The current and future workforce demands highly skilled and well-educated employees,” said Stagnolia. “Oftentimes simple reminders plant a seed of awareness in individuals that grows their understanding of the importance of education. McDonald’s owners and operators are to be commended for supporting this awareness campaign.”

The owners and operators “see firsthand the importance of education in our businesses, and know that KYAE’s efforts will have a far-reaching impact on communities throughout our Commonwealth,” said Gist Heinrich, vice president of the McDonald’s cooperative.

Louisville Invests $74 Million in New MetroSafe Emergency Operations Center
All Louisville 911 call takers, dispatchers and emergency management staff now operate out of one location – the newly completed MetroSafe building at 5th and Liberty streets in downtown.

The MetroSafe 911 dispatch center can process more than 1.3 million emergency calls each year. Dispatchers use real-time mapping technology to assign the closest emergency units. The emergency operations center provides a unified space for multiple agencies to plan responses to large-scale disasters. If downtown buildings lose power, MetroSafe can continue normal operations with backup sources. The system is interoperable with surrounding counties and even other large cities.

“We have made a huge investment in MetroSafe, and it has catapulted our emergency response system into the national spotlight,” said Doug Hamilton, Emergency Management Agency and MetroSafe director. “MetroSafe is among the elite emergency communications systems in the United States.”

The city purchased the Federal Reserve building in 2004 for $4 million, and spent another $14.6 million on improvement. Renovation of the former Federal Reserve Bank completes Phase 3 of the MetroSafe project. The first two phases involved combining the city’s nine pre-merger dispatch centers into one location and purchasing powerful new software that vastly improves inter-agency communication and dispatch efficiency.

The final phase includes distributing more than 3,700 handheld radio units to the city’s emergency responders – police, fire, EMS, suburban fire and others. The entire MetroSafe project will cost approximately $74 million, nearly half of which has come from federal and state money.

By the end of the year, Metro Technology will relocate to the MetroSafe building – so all the city’s technology infrastructure will be housed there. It also will host all video surveillance monitoring of Metro government buildings.
Eventually, approximately 300 Metro employees will work in the MetroSafe building.