$285,000 being spent on consulting firm to find ‘new paths to progress’


UK President Eli Capilouto

Chicago-based Huron Consulting Group will conduct a study targeted at gauging UK’s accomplishments and goals and what the university is looking to do in the future.

The group’s yearlong contract will cost the university $285,000, spokesman Jay Blanton said, the comes from university funds. Huron was chosen because it has done “extensive” work for UK in the past, he said, and because they have worked with top universities around the country, like the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Kansas University, who hired the firm for projects costing seven figures.

“That means they combine a deep understanding of UK with a national perspective about other large public research universities,” Blanton said. “We’re asking them to quickly analyze the strategic initiatives we have in place, measure our progress with those plans, and provide feedback and input about how we can build on the strong foundation we’ve established the last several years.”

He said UK President Eli Capilouto was interested in bringing in someone with a national perspective, in addition to the conversations he has had with more than 100 faculty and staff in small group sessions about “what they see as both opportunities and challenges” at UK.

The main goal of hiring the firm is to gain “information and input that will help us seize our opportunities together” and get a “fresh look” at where the university is in reaching its goals.

“It can be useful to gather quantitative analysis from a third party that can assess objectively our progress,” Blanton said. That includes progress in areas such as retention and graduation rates, which can then be compared with other universities.

Capilouto will soon commence individual sessions with leaders in every college on campus, Blanton said, to have specific discussions about academic initiatives.

He also is forming a review committee, chaired by Faculty Senate Chair Hollie Swanson, to ensure faculty and staff input is being used to move forward.

Capilouto will gather feedback from the UK community through his web page and blog, and on social media — Facebook and Twitter accounts — after they are launched in early August.

“The reality today is that while many of our dreams and aspirations for UK and Kentucky tomorrow have not changed, the underlying economic, social and technological conditions have,” Capilouto said. “So, I want to engage the entire campus community in a conversation about how we can be creative in finding new paths to progress together.

“This process, then, must be about our shared campus vision for the future.”

Blanton said the most intensive amount of work will be conducted over the next few months leading up to a Board of Trustees retreat in October, some of it in conjunction with the UK Office of Institutional Research, but the contract allows UK to use Huron’s expertise for a full year. He said that since the university has worked with Huron before, the contract is more cost-efficient for UK.