"Our Friends Came Through"
President's column from UofL magazine, Spring 2005.
"Our Friends Came Through ," UofL magazine, Spring 2005
In the last UofL magazine, I expressed optimism that the Kentucky legislature would find a way this year to resolve several financial issues confronting the University of Louisville and our fellow institutions of higher education. I urged legislators to restore the cuts that we have endured over the past three years and to grant U of L funding for another major research facility vital to our cancer and health sciences programs.
I’m happy to report that our friends in the legislature came through.
This past March, state lawmakers made what many feel was a long-overdue, yet nevertheless bold move to overhaul Kentucky’s tax structure. This act was vital to raising funds for services, infrastructure and projects pivotal to the state’s growth.
Then, as part of the new budget, lawmakers added $50 million in funding to the state’s universities and $53 million to public schools, acknowledging that for Kentucky to compete successfully in the global economy, our citizens must be well educated and well trained. And the only way to ensure that happens is to give schools the money they need for the tools and personnel that it takes to get the job done.
Lawmakers also approved $39.1 million toward the new facility that we hope to build and $40 million that UK wants for a biological/pharmaceutical complex.
It gets even better.
The legislature also added a penny to the cigarette tax to help support cancer research at U of L and UK. This seemingly tiny amount will actually generate about $2.5 million annually for each university. As part of the agreement, however, both universities must match the state’s portion with private funds. So the total impact for each university is $5 million in new cancer research money each year.
And that, as you might expect, can truly make a difference.
The legislature was very open about the fact that they expect a good return on their investment. And that’s the way it should be.
As you have heard me say time and again, we in higher education must be effective, and we must be accountable. Those who support the university with their time, money and effort have a right to know that the resources entrusted to us are being used wisely.
That’s what we strive for every day here at U of L. And I’m happy to report that we’re succeeding. Here are highlights of just a few recent accomplishments that I believe demonstrate our accountability and stewardship:
- University Hospital’s Stroke Center recently joined the ranks of about 50 centers designated primary stroke centers by the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations. University Hospital is the first hospital in Kentucky to have this designation, which is based on the hospital’s exceptional efforts and outcomes in treating stroke patients.
- Gov. Ernie Fletcher appointed U of L English professor Sena Jeter Naslund as Kentucky’s new poet laureate. Naslund, a faculty member since 1973, has written two national best sellers, Four Spirits (2003) and Ahab's Wife: Or, the Star-Gazer (1999) and has received U of L’s distinguished teaching award and the president’s award for outstanding scholarship, research and creative activity.
- Just months into our “Finding Answers to Cancer” capital campaign to raise funds for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, we have already secured more than $30 million toward the $41.5 million goal. A large part of that is due to the James Graham Brown Foundation’s most generous commitment of $15 million.
- Our students continue to excel, as evidenced by U of L senior Bill Brammell, who was recently named a national Truman finalist. He soon will learn if he has secured one of the 77 scholarships that the Truman Scholarship Foundation awards each year for graduate study to college students who have outstanding leadership potential, plan to pursue careers in government or elsewhere in public service and wish to attend graduate school to help prepare for their careers. Bill is executive vice president of the Student Government Association, a McConnell Scholar and a political science and liberal studies double major.
- Another outstanding U of L student, freshman David Soleimani-Meigooni, will be inducted into the National Gallery for America’s Young Inventors on April 30. This gallery, located in Akron, Ohio, showcases youths whose ideas hold promise for making a positive impact on our society. Only six inventors are inducted each year. David, who comes to us from Lexington, is being honored for “A Novel Method for Enhancing Prostate Cancer Radiosensitization by Natural Compound Curcumin,” which he developed while still a high school senior.
- U of L was one of only three universities in the state that has met, surpassed or made progress on all eight of its goals under the Kentucky Plan for Equal Opportunities, according to the Council on Postsecondary Education. The plan sets goals for the state’s public universities for African American student enrollment, retention and graduation as well as employment of African Americans in managerial, faculty and other administrative posts.
We’re proud of these and all the other accomplishments of our faculty, staff, students and alumni that I have neither the time nor the space to list here. (You can review many more, however, elsewhere in this issue of UofL and on our website at www.louisville.edu).
Before I end, I want to express our sincere appreciation to the Kentucky legislature, with special thanks to Rep. Larry Clark, Senate President David Williams and Gov. Ernie Fletcher for their show of support. I also want to thank the Jefferson County delegation, led by Joni Jenkins, Scott Brinkman and Gerald Neal, for their work in helping us secure funding, along with Sen. Mitch McConnell, Rep. Anne Northup and all the other friends and supporters who have been taking our message to the public and helping us show that, at the University of Louisville, we are, indeed, daring to be great.
James R. Ramsey