This is an excerpt from the speech delivered Tuesday by University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto at his investiture ceremony.
You cannot help but be moved by this university's unquenchable thirst for knowledge and steadfast devotion to service.
And it is just not on this campus. I have seen it in every corner of our commonwealth. I have heard about it through stories shared with me in diners and town halls, in homes and offices and in high school classrooms ... It is an idea not captured in statistics or in abstract narrative.
The University of Kentucky is a promise — one that is manifest in each of us. It is a promise we have all made to each other, forged almost 150 years ago in the darkest hour of our nation's history reverberating in the echoes and voices of those who came before us and those who will dream long after we have faded...
UK is a promise understood by President James Patterson who made personal loans to help a fledging university survive, a promise that was carried forward by President Frank McVey whose planning and vision during the throes of a Depression have guided our efforts and facilities for decades and a promise brought to life by President Frank Dickey, who in the face of opposition and doubt, birthed a medical center that provides community and specialty care to millions.
UK is a promise — a covenant that Kentuckians have made with each other to build a shining beacon of excellence that will light our path forward and illuminate our efforts and progress. UK is a promise we have made to each other that says young Kentuckians from all walks of life, backgrounds and experiences are welcome here and that they leave as our best and brightest because we foster their potential and brilliance.
But what does this promise mean today? And — looking to the future — how do we honor that promise in times like these? With a fierce sense of urgency we begin to think anew and rebuild this campus so we can overcome that which confronts us.
Why? Because an independent study of the academic core of our campus recommended that we tear down 12 buildings and undertake major renovations of 29 buildings.
Because the vast majority of our space is not accessible to people with disabilities, more so than any university in this state.
Because in the core of our campus the average age of buildings is nearly 50 years and they are deteriorating at rates that require daily patching when the long-term cost of rebuilding is wiser.
And because only 10 percent of students who live in our residence halls live in modern housing.
We have more than $1 billion in construction needs. But in the midst of great economic challenge, there are opportunities. Construction costs have never been more affordable and interest rates never lower or more competitive.
We will ask the state for help and support, support they have long sought to give as partners in the promise of UK. But we also must find new approaches to earn our way, through greater and more intentional philanthropy, through innovative partnerships that leverage our resources, through smart growth of our student body and through internationalization of our campus and different modes of learning.
There is no easy time. There is only our time. And this is the University of Kentucky's time — because we must honor our promise.
This means we will construct residence halls that provide high-tech living and learning opportunities for our students, where team learning is possible, and where such exchanges prepare our students for a more diverse world.
We will build new classroom space in the core of our campus equipped with technology that allows for team teaching and learning and is inviting for students and faculty to work collaboratively. Space that allows us to expand our innovative educational and honors programs, including clinical and research space so our students can know the most modern of discoveries and heal and touch lives.
We will grow the funds so that we can stop saying no to hundreds of talented freshmen who qualify for our highest scholastic award, the Singletary Scholarship. And we will work to structure more opportunities to ensure that our best and brightest students do not leave the commonwealth.
We will become more diverse and inclusive — with more students of different races and ethnicities, with different backgrounds, experiences and origins. As a university, we must — and we will — reflect the interconnected world in which our students are expected to compete and succeed.
Twenty-first century facilities are essential to our students' success. But bricks and mortar only matter when the right people are there to light the fire of our students' imaginations. We must have as a goal to appropriately and comprehensively support our faculty and staff who make the promise real.
And we will continue to seek ways to finance revitalized facilities for the arts and self-financed athletic facilities, which together both draw in new students and cement ties to our alumni and supporters across the commonwealth.
It is time to build with our eyes fixed firmly on honoring the promise, to which we — and those whose efforts laid the foundation of this institution — are all committed.
We cannot wait, or be held back because we were afraid to take these first steps. We must — and we will — act.
We will honor Kentucky's promise — to each other — to our students and to our children. And I, as this university's president, promise to accept this challenge.
UK is, indeed, a remarkable place. It is remarkable for the excellence of its legacy, the clarity of its values and the sustenance we find in its potential.
Let us together proclaim today, in the cadence of a common voice, that we are resolute in seeing that the University of Kentucky's promise will endure.