New UK first lady, Mary Lynne Capilouto: 'We could make a life here'

Mary Lynne Capilouto is looking forward to seeing the students from her Maxwell Place home.
Mary Lynne Capilouto is looking forward to seeing the students from her Maxwell Place home.

Mary Lynne Hartselle Capilouto has done it all — but not at the same time.

The former dean of the dental school at the University of Alabama-Birmingham retired in time to spend time with her daughter, Emily, during her senior year of high school.

She and her husband, the incoming president of the University of Kentucky, took "a good walk" together while deciding whether he should become a candidate for the UK job.

The two visited Lexington without telling anyone they were coming and then made a joint call on how to proceed.

"We thought we could make a life here," Mary Lynne Capilouto said.

With daughter Emily back at UAB, the Capiloutos are empty nesters. But they have two dogs — one a shelter rescue, the other a cocker spaniel-poodle puppy — that UK students, faculty and staff might see them walking in the area around the Maxwell Place-Rose Street corridor. Capilouto is also a gardener, but it's uncertain how much gardening she will get to do at UK, which has squads of grounds-maintenance workers.

As a dentist, Capilouto, 59, said she has been moved by the plight of Kentucky children who don't receive adequate — or any — dental care.

As seasoned world travelers, the couple's plan for this summer had been to travel to Rhodes, the island from which Eli's grandparents emigrated to the United States. That plan was derailed when Capilouto got another course of action for his summer vacation: become a university president.

"The No. 1, most important thing is to be supportive of Eli ... and the university," Capilouto said.

Living at Maxwell Place, the UK president's house, appeals to her. She and Eli Capilouto, a former Mountain Brook, Ala., school board member, have long enjoyed watching children set off on their daily school commutes from their current neighborhood.

Now, she said, they can watch all the college students stream by on the way to their UK classes.

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