Mike Richey, UK’s Vice President for Philanthropy, to retire at year’s end


Mike Richey

Emily Girard

Vice President for Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement, Mike Richey, who has been involved with UK since the 1960s, is retiring at the end of 2021.

“Mike came to UK as a young student…He never left UK, and this university, of course, never left him,” UK President Eli Capilouto said in an email. “Along with his family, UK became his life’s passion.”

Originally from Muhlenberg County, Richey came to UK as a freshman in 1969. After earning a master’s degree from the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment, Richey continued to work in that department. He mentored students coming to UK from small towns and helped establish Roundup, an event that continues to this day.

Richey was also the College of Agriculture’s first philanthropy officer, eventually coming to the central philanthropy department in 1998. He helped run a $1 billion development campaign that was the first created by a public university. 

“His career has been one of remarkable firsts, starting magazines, garnering national awards and earning university-wide recognitions such as the Sullivan Medallion,” Capilouto said. “Mike would be the first to say he shares the honors with his team, and they would be the first to say they were simply following his vision for UK and the Commonwealth.”

As Vice President for Philanthropy, Richey heads Kentucky Can, UK’s main philanthropy program. The historic $2.1 billion campaign with, currently, over 142,000 donors, was announced in 2018 and funds scholarships and research collaborations.

“It’s a comprehensive campaign involving all of our academic colleges, UK HealthCare, athletics, student services and a myriad of programs that we offer across the state at the university,” Richey said in an episode of the Behind the Blue podcast. “It’s our time to do our job so that the generation that follows us will…[provide] the resources for the next generation.”

In that same episode, Richey communicated his respect for Capilouto, citing him as one of the reasons he chose to delay his retirement to see the Kentucky Can campaign through.

“I may have the title of…Vice President for Philanthropy, but when it comes to working on certain level gifts, [potential donors] want to see the president, and he is…a philanthropist himself,” Richey said. “He sets the standard of…communicating with our people in a very straightforward, ethical way about what they can accomplish with their philanthropy to the University of Kentucky.”

In the coming weeks, Capilouto will appoint a committee to launch a national search for Richey’s replacement.

“We won’t be able to replace Mike. No one can,” Capilouto said. “But the foundation of excellence that he has built puts us in a position to attract enviable talent.”

Click here to donate to Kentucky Can.