Kentucky Bucks for Brains program wins national award

Kentucky's higher education Bucks for Brains program has won a national award for being a model of how states and regions create high-paying jobs through investments in science, technology and innovation.

Bucks for Brains won the "expanding research capacity" category of the 2011 State Science and Technology Institute's Excellence in Technology-Based Economic Development national award program.

University of Kentucky Provost Kumble Subbaswamy accepted the award on behalf of Kentucky at an awards ceremony Tuesday in Columbus, Ohio.

The Bucks for Brains program matches state dollars with private donations to encourage research at UK and the University of Louisville, and to strengthen key programs at Kentucky's comprehensive universities.

"We are very grateful that Kentucky's legislators and former Gov. Paul Patton created this program as a strategic component of higher education reform, and that the success of this program is now being recognized on a national stage," said Bob King, president of the Council on Postsecondary Education. "The impact has been far-reaching and has yielded new knowledge and research that has led to new products, businesses and jobs."

From 1997 to 2010, the number of endowed chairs at Kentucky public universities increased from 56 to 252, and the number of endowed professorships increased from 53 to 354. During that same period, extramural research and development expenditures generated by UK and U of L faculty and staff increased from $105.2 million to $364.8 million, or 247 percent.

The state's $410 million investment leveraged an additional $410 million in private contributions through the dollar-for-dollar matching feature. When 2008-10 pledges are fully paid, the program will have generated $820 million, with $767.9 million added to public university endowments and $52.1 million used to support construction of new research facilities, including $43.8 million at UK and $8.3 million for education and general facilities at the comprehensive universities.