Todd gives six principles to student success

By Nicole Schladt

When President Lee Todd was a child, he dreamed of being a high school math and science teacher. Now several years later, Todd has found himself preparing to retire from his position as the 11th president of UK with a different set of dreams.

“I never, ever dreamed of being president of the University of Kentucky,” Todd said. “That was far too big.”

Todd explained these dreams during the last Final Word lecture of the semester Tuesday, offering advice to UK students about achieving their own dreams in the future as well.

He presented six principles throughout his speech: “you have to set your own sights,” “choose challenge over comfort,” “seek opportunities to sit in the presence of greatness,” “don’t think you’re not very smart because you speak slowly,” “have a dream” and “University of Kentucky graduates can compete.”

These six principles were accompanied by many stories from his life, including details about his relationship with First Lady Patsy Todd and the education he received while at Massachusetts Institute of Technology after graduating from UK.

“I had no idea that I would ever have this opportunity,” Todd said. “We headed to Boston to grow up.”

One of the main things Todd emphasized in his Final Word, however, is the idea that an education from UK will prove to be invaluable.

“I just challenge you to keep on realizing how competitive you will be once you get out (of UK),” Todd said.

Todd will retire from the presidency June 30. He plans to spend his time after retirement traveling, rejoining UK’s engineering faculty, speaking at K-12 schools, emphasizing the importance of start-up companies and working with public policy in the state.

“We are so blessed to have been able to have this position for 10 years,” Todd said.

He maintains that dreaming has helped him get through all of life’s challenges, including those involved with being president of a university as large as UK.

“Dreaming is something important to a society, important to an individual,” Todd said. “That’s been our challenge … learning to dream differently.”