Campaign will make UK education accessible, enhance healthcare

"Kentucky Can" campaign logo

The largest fundraising campaign in the history of the Commonwealth will create thousands of scholarships to expand access to education at UK and to dramatically accelerate UK’s efforts to solve the Commonwealth’s most challenging health and economic issues.

The $2.1 billion campaign, Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, was announced this past Friday.

“We were founded for the people of Kentucky,” said UK President Eli Capilouto in announcing the campaign. “This place has been – and continues to be – home to pioneers and providers, bold dreamers and strategic thinkers, who make our vision and work possible. Now, we have the opportunity, with a sense of dogged determination and boundless compassion and generosity, to write the next chapter for this university and for those we serve in the Commonwealth and beyond. It is time to show the world what Kentucky can do.”

Areas of support

Specifically, the Kentucky Can campaign will focus on three major areas of support:

  • Funding 2,100 UK LEADS and other scholarships to ensure that more Kentuckians have access to a UK education and that they can graduate on time with reduced debt. The highly successful UK LEADS program is a nationally heralded initiative to eliminate financial need as an impediment to attending and graduating from the university.
  • Growing the university’s endowment from about $1.5 billion to $2.1 billion in gifts, future commitments and investments, as part of an effort to fund recruitment and retention of leading scholars and continue to support development programs and initiatives that provide a foundation for the work of faculty, staff and students.
  • Endowing efforts – particularly between and among academic and research disciplines – that focus on solving the state’s most pressing challenges. Kentucky, for example, is among the nation’s leaders in opioid overdoses and deaths as well as many cancers, heart disease and diabetes.

“Opioid addiction is a great, yet vicious equalizer. It does not discriminate based upon gender, socioeconomic status or education,” said Dr. Phillip Chang, chief medical officer for UK HealthCare. “At UK and UK HealthCare, we are working toward real, proven and effective solutions. With this campaign supporting our efforts, we can start and expand innovative therapy and treatment programs. The greatest opportunity to meet this challenge will come from UK HealthCare and the colleges across this campus, as solutions will be found at the intersection of multiple disciplines.”

Executive Vice President for Health Affairs Dr. Mark Newman added: “This is an opportunity to address some of the critical healthcare issues that Kentuckians face. By bolstering our clinical initiatives, groundbreaking research and by educating the next generation of scientists and patient care providers, Kentucky can make a significant difference in the well-being of our citizens, now and in the future.  Working together throughout our academic medical campus to engage and collaborate with the health profession colleges gives us a unique advantage in fighting, preventing and overcoming some of our greatest health challenges.”

Achieving the campaign goal

UK already has raised more than $1 billion toward the campaign goal. Over the next few months, kick-off events will be held in a number of cities in the region and across the country to expand fundraising efforts.

UK’s previous comprehensive campaign – the first in its history – raised $1 billion and concluded in 2007. It focused largely on endowed faculty positions and supporting continued infrastructure development.

This campaign is distinctive, said campaign co-chair Mira Ball, for its specific focus on eliminating student debt and expanding affordable access to a UK education for more Kentuckians.

In the past seven years, under Capilouto’s leadership, UK has started or completed some $2.3 billion in construction of new residence halls, laboratories and classrooms, clinical care support and athletics facilities – an effort to transform the campus and to position it for growth in education, research, service and healthcare.

The institution, Richey said, has a strategic plan that contemplates record retention and graduation rates and an aggressive expansion of its healthcare and research capacity toward solving Kentucky’s most serious challenges.

Investment in facilities is part of the equation, he said. So is significant investment in students, staff and scholars and the tools they need to succeed.

“This campaign will build bridges for students to receive an affordable education; for faculty to teach and conduct research that inspires, heals, creates and impacts the quality of life for all Kentuckians … This is our time to determine the future we want and to create it. This is our time to ask ourselves – what is the legacy we want to leave. Together, we must. Together, Kentucky can.”

For more information about Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign, go to:

Kentucky Can: The 21st Century Campaign goals and initiatives

Students and scholars

  • Provide 2,100 LEADS and other scholarships.
  • Grow the scholarship endowment by $300 million.
  • Make college more affordable for Kentucky residents.
  • Increase the six-year graduation rate to 70 percent.

Research and scholarship

  • Create solutions to the issues we face: cancer, diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and substance abuse.
  • Assemble more research teams focused on improving Kentuckians’ overall health.
  • Attract and retain top talent.
  • Raise $95 million to complete a research facility focused on health disparities in Kentucky.

Endowment and support for the work we do

  • Grow our endowment to $2.1 billion, currently at $1.5 billion.
  • Increase scholarships, offering an affordable education to more UK students.
  • Create a sustainable path for funding programs for the life of the university.
  • Equip our facilities with the latest technology, better preparing students for their lives and careers.


  • Provide 350 scholarships for our student-athletes.
  • Commit to each student-athlete and their academic and athletic success.
  • Ensure state-of-the-art facilities for 22 teams.
  • Fully modernize Memorial Coliseum, home to our great tradition of excellence and our heritage in honor of Kentucky veterans and several of our teams.
  • Create enhanced academic facilities and general scholarships.
This content was produced by UK HealthCare Brand Strategy.

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