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By Will Wright and Anyssa Roberts | Assistant News Editors
As the United States higher education system changes, UK moves forward with plans to accommodate a new normal.
President Eli Capilouto and Provost Christine Riordan sat down with the Kernel’s editorial board on Tuesday and discussed how the university plans to improve the university in upcoming years.
Among the initiatives, the two officials said tighter campus security and living-learning programs are ways they hope to accommodate students and improve retention rates.
The university has put nearly $5 million into campus security this year, including new identification cards.
The new IDs are currently used as room keys for residents of Central Hall. They will serve the same functions for residents of the other dorms being built and will also function as a key for students to access classroom buildings after 5 p.m.
The ID contains a proximity chip, which will unlock the door without requiring students to swipe the card.
Though a database managed by the UK Police Department will record who enters what building and when, Capilouto and Riordan said they do not think students need to worry about this database.
“We do not have goals to snoop or be intrusive,” Capilouto said.
In addition to campus security, Riordan said more living-learning programs, like the ones in Keeneland and Patterson Halls, will also help increase retention rates by integrating new students into the academic environment.
Other plans for academic retention include a team that will research why UK’s retention rates are so low. For example, about two-thirds of the Class of 2013 are still enrolled at UK, according to the Office of Institutional Research.
Capilouto said the university has a system to check on students who drop out or transfer, but finds they often don’t want to share for personal reasons.
“It’s a tough thing to track,” he said. “We are blocking and tackling for retention.”
Capilouto and Riordan said they are finding alternative sources for funding in a time when state appropriations for higher education are shrinking.
Recently, President Barack Obama spoke about a plan to match university success with federal funding.
Capilouto said he thinks Obama’s plan is too simple because the value of an education isn’t always measurable.
“We can’t be so simplistic to just be measuring wages” for federal funds, he said. For example, a student may graduate with a lot of debt, but because of the value of the education, they are able to pay it off and be better prepared for the workforce.
Capilouto said Obama’s plan might not measure success accurately in comparison with other universities.
The administration is also looking to review policies already in place.
A committee of about 15 people, including Student Government President Roshan Palli and UK Police Chief Joe Monroe, is working to determine the alcohol policy on campus.
Both Capilouto and Riordan said changing the alcohol policy would affect many different groups on campus such as the Resident Life staff, UK Police and off-campus homeowners.
“We want to be certain not to … jump to conclusions,” Capilouto said.
Capilouto said he is hoping to hear from the committee by the end of the semester.