Todd to deliver address on state of UK

University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. says UK has sufficient safeguards to prevent a scandal like the current one at the University of Louisville over the alleged misuse of federal research dollars and the awarding of an unearned doctorate.

Todd, in an interview before his State of the University Address on Thursday, was specifically asked whether he thought UK had enough safeguards in place.

"I certainly do," Todd said. "I feel very confident."

The UK chief said "we may be bureaucratic, as some people think," but he added that internal procedures, by moving at a moderate or slow pace, provide for thorough review.

Todd declined to speak directly about the U of L situation, and he is not expected to bring up the imbroglio during his address Thursday.

The U of L situation involves apparent misuse of research funds by Robert Felner, its former education and human development dean.

The Courier-Journal of Louisville has also reported that Felner apparently approved giving a doctorate to a friend who earned only nine credits at U of L but contributed $375,000 to Felner's research center.

Todd said his address will point to several successes UK enjoys despite state budgetary limitations that have hampered UK's progress toward its goal of becoming a Top 20 public research university.

These milestones include:

■ A 4.5 percent increase in retention to a record 81 percent. Retention measures the number of freshmen who return for their sophomore year.

■ A record 61.2 percent graduation rate over six years, a period normally used for federal and national figures.

■ A record 341 African-American freshmen this fall, a 32 percent increase from fall 2007.

■ For freshmen, the average score on the ACT entrance exam went up from 24.3 to 24.4 and the average high-school grade-point-average jumped from 3.48 on a 4-point scale to 3.52.

■ UK had 20 research papers accepted last year for the national Conference on Undergraduate Research — more than the 17 from the University of Texas at Austin and the 16 at the University of Michigan, two of the nation's top research universities.

■ $64.5 million in venture funds was given to 55 Lexington area companies last year, including $37 million from national sources. He said 32 of the firms rely on research that is UK's intellectual property.

Todd is also expected to call for more state funds to build additional research space.