University faces critical turning point


Shoes to fill at Maxwell Place Wednesday evening. Photo by Ryan Buckler

Kernel Editorial Board

President Lee Todd’s tenure at UK has been centered on a pillar of lofty goals. Now that he has announced his retirement, UK must begin looking forward to who will replace him and just as importantly, must decide where the university wants to go from here.

In selecting the next president, the  search committee needs to conduct a transparent search. Choosing the leader of the state’s flagship university can be done best if the state and the university have a say in who will represent them.

While it can be endlessly debated whether the Top- 20 Plan is the best idea for UK, it can’t be denied that striving for improvement is essential. As Todd stated at his press conference, his successor should see the university as  a destination rather than a jumping-off point.

The committee must look for a candidate who holds a similar sentiment. It is a sentiment that implies passion for both the state and the university, and while Todd has his handful of critics, not many would question his passion for the state.

Todd was the first president to take the state’s top-20 mandate seriously, and he did so by developing the business plan.

Where the plan collapsed was in the state’s hypocritical lack of funding. To mandate such a colossal goal and then ask the university to meet it in the midst of budget cuts is simply requesting an impossible task. The new president must either find funding or restructure the plan, because otherwise the university will become a laughing stock, setting itself up for inevitable failure.

Frugality has unfortunately become a primary concern of university presidents across the country. Maintaining jobs and top level education in the midst of budget cuts is a daunting task, but one that must be done.

Aside from searching for funding and creating an achievable goal, the next president must continue to shift the national view of UK from sports to academics. Todd said in his news conference that UK has  seven banners hanging in Rupp Arena, and he wondered why UK academics can’t achieve the same ranks.

Improving academics doesn’t mean athletics needs to go by the wayside. The president must simply make academics as important to the heart of Kentuckians as athletics.

Lee Todd has seen countless ups and downs during his tenure, but no one can take from him the passion he showed and the presence he was for the university. His successor must continue this trend while improving on his weaknesses, and the search committee has a hefty task in front of it, finding someone who can achieve this balance.