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Key Takeaways:

  • A new semester means new opportunities and challenges for our students (and everyone in our community). Let’s work together to support each other.
  • We celebrate an important milestone later this month with UK’s 50th anniversary of commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • We are updating our COVID policies in alignment with federal guidance. As always, our priority is the health and safety of everyone in our community.
  • Kentucky experienced harsh weather conditions shortly before the start of the new year, impacting dozens of buildings across campus. Many UK staff members worked long hours over several days to ensure our campus was ready for the first day of classes.

Campus community,

In December, I had the opportunity to celebrate as thousands of our students received their diplomas, sharing with them an idea that I hope, too, permeates this community.

While your dreams may take you on new or exciting paths, as a Wildcat, they should never expire.

Now, at the start of this new year, I want to welcome back our returning students and offer an especially warm welcome to new students. You are surrounded and supported by incredible faculty and staff who will ignite your wildest ambitions and help you realize these dreams.

Each of you — because of the experiences and background you bring to the table — have so much to offer this community.

We are glad you are here.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

This year’s MLK Day celebration is a historic milestone for UK and Lexington. It marks the 50th anniversary of the citywide observance, which began right here at the University of Kentucky. The annual celebration is one of the oldest such programs in the nation.

Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Observance was founded in 1973, five years after the tragic assassination of King on April 4, 1968. Jerry Stevens, the first director of UK’s Office of Minority Student Affairs, and Edgar Mack, faculty member in UK’s College of Social Work, served as founders and co-coordinators during the early days of this observance. They would later be joined by Chester Grundy, who upon his hiring, would take on the role of program coordinator in 1974.

To celebrate this remarkable anniversary, I will join the UK and Lexington communities in two exciting programs.

  • The annual MLK Freedom March will be held on Monday, January 16, starting at 1 p.m. at the Central Bank Center in downtown Lexington. The march will conclude with the commemorative program held at the Central Bank Center at 2 p.m.
  • On Tuesday, January 17, our Office for Institutional Diversity is hosting a 50th anniversary celebration at the Singletary Center for the Arts, 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. The program includes powerful music, art and poetry readings from members of the UK family.

I hope you will join me in celebrating 50 years of honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in Kentucky.


As COVID-19 has changed, so, too, has our response. To ensure alignment with the CDC, the Kentucky Department of Health and the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, as well as other academic institutions and governing bodies, much of our response to COVID — and how we support our students and employees — is changing this semester.

You can read the details of these changes here.

Our guiding principle has not changed. The health and safety of our campus community remain our top priority. As our people have pivoted time and again to this virus and all challenges in our institution’s history, we are confident our people will do the same this time.

The University of Kentucky is one organization with various expectations for different units. While the institution maintains similar expectations throughout our community, personnel in UK HealthCare operate under additional expectations set by local, state and federal public health officials.

UK Health Corps will remain operational in a scaled-back capacity and will play a key role — as part of the Office for Student Success — in answering basic questions and connecting students and employees with resources as they navigate COVID. We encourage students and employees to call 859-218-YouK (9685), the helpline for the Office for Student Success, or send an email to with any non-medical questions.


Finally, I’d like to thank again the members of our community who sacrificed much of their time with family and loved ones over the break to make sure our campus was ready to welcome our students for the spring semester.

It is because of them that we were and are able to continue our mission to educate, heal, discover and serve — what we are called to do as the University for Kentucky.

I remain deeply grateful for this community and its commitment to advancing this state.

Eli Capilouto