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"UofL Thrives through Partnerships"

by Smith,Ukiah last modified Jun 29, 2009 10:42 AM

"UofL Thrives through Partnerships," Kentucky Monthly magazine, May 2003

All of our partners - those we have worked with for years, those who are joining forces with us for the first time, and those who will join us in the months ahead - are essential to our momentum as we contribute to the economic progress, quality of life and educational advancement of our state.

At the University of Louisville, we see ourselves as an active partner in every student's success. Students come to us with intellectual curiosity and the willingness to challenge themselves, and we provide the academic resources and support services they need to achieve their goals. They don't do it alone, and we don't do it for them. We do it together.

Likewise, the university itself relies on many partners to help us thrive and give back to our community and state. One of the most critical is the state itself.

U of L, like Kentucky's other public universities, was given a distinct mission when legislators passed the state's higher education reform act in 1997. We were to become "a premier, nationally recognized metropolitan research university" as part of a "seamless, integrated system of postsecondary education strategically planned and adequately funded to enhance economic development and quality of life."

Our partnership with the state commits that we will work to advance life in the commonwealth through education and research; in turn, the commonwealth will provide resources to help ensure that we are positioned to do so. These resources have come in the form of state funds that support education and facilities and help keep higher education affordable for Kentucky residents.

An outgrowth of the state's commitment to higher education has allowed us to add additional partners to help us achieve our goals. The Research Challenge Trust Fund, or "Bucks for Brains," matches state dollars with private funds to attract and retain top researchers and scholars to Kentucky. Thanks to Bucks for Brains, we have joined forces with health care organizations, individuals and foundations to leverage the state's investment.

The result is exciting new research in education, entrepreneurship, cardiology, cancer and many other areas that already is translating into benefits for citizens across the state. U of L Bucks for Brains researchers are focusing on early identification of childhood learning disabilities, exploring pediatric sleep disorders and diabetes, promoting improved recovery from anesthesia and tolerance to organ transplants, and much, much more-all due to partnerships.

Their work, in turn, brings additional federal and private research dollars to Kentucky and is leading to marketable discoveries and new businesses. This means new jobs and new economic development opportunities for the commonwealth.

U of L also works in partnership with other state universities. For example, our Center for Research in Mathematics and Science Teacher Development is working with Northern Kentucky University to help colleges and universities produce better-prepared math and science teachers, thanks to yet another partnership with Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who secured federal funding for the project.

And I can't omit our colleague research university, the University of Kentucky, in a discussion of great partnerships. UK President Lee Todd is enthusiastically supporting the growth of educational and research partnerships with U of L. Of course, UK and U of L will maintain a healthy rivalry when it comes to basketball, football and other sports.

We have many business partnerships, as well, including state and national companies that work with our Center for Engineering, Logistics and Distribution to help improve product flow between businesses and consumers. Metropolitan College, which provides students from across the state with employment as well as tuition to pay for college, is a nationally recognized public-private partnership between U of L, Jefferson Community College and UPS, with support from the state.

We are currently working with Louisville Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson on ways we can assist our newly merged community, now the 16th largest city in the country. We are having similar conversations with the Jefferson County Public Schools about building upon an already productive relationship that benefits both K-12 and higher education.

Beyond Louisville, we are working with school systems to prepare teachers, training health care workers and emergency personnel across through our Center for Deterrence of Biowarfare and Bioterrorism (also funded through Sen. McConnell), protecting Kentucky's natural resources through the Kentucky Pollution Prevention Center, and promoting literacy among children in both rural and urban areas.

And, of course, we are partners with our students, helping them meet their goals in classrooms, laboratories and real world learning environments that allow them to develop their skills and gain experience. These students will become the state's leaders after they graduate and will, in turn, be alumni partners in the university's future success.

Partnerships are critically important to higher education, especially when state funds are scarce during tough economic times. We are hopeful that our legislators will remain committed to the higher education partnership they established in 1997. At the same time, we know we must be especially assertive reaching out to the many organizations, public and private, that can share in our successes.

All of our partners - those we have worked with for years, those who are joining forces with us for the first time, and those who will join us in the months ahead - are essential to our momentum as we contribute to the economic progress, quality of life and educational advancement of our state. Like our students, we can't do it alone and it can't be done for us. With partners, we can do it together.

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