Todd touches on future in last address



By Gary Hermann

President Lee Todd delivered his final State of the University Address on Thursday morning.

The address came a little over of week after Todd announced his decision to retire in June.

Student Government President Ryan Smith also addressed campus. Smith said SG will, “Remain dedicated to Dr. Todd’s vision to attract the best and brightest in this state and region,” and will, “continue his mission of recruiting.”

Smith also spoke about the growth of the Leadership Development Program, the success of Tally Cats and the new student-driver program focused on student safety.

“All of these good deeds are a fraction compared to the accomplishments of Dr. Todd,” Smith said.

Todd was not shy about criticizing state leaders whose budget cuts have stalled the Top 20 Initiative.

“I am embarrassed we wrote the Top 20 Plan, got the funding, got a top-five provost, got deans that could be at Top 20 schools and can’t give them a raise,” Todd said.

UK has been able to increase enrollment during hard economic times, Todd said.

“Our budget is up $6 million and students up 4,000,” Todd said. “I’d like to see the state government be that efficient.”

The deans received high praise.

“With this set of deans, this place is going to go forward,” Todd said. “They keep us going [despite] nine budget cuts in nine years.”

Todd said the address was not a farewell speech, but said he will remain busy over the next nine months and wants to visit each college at UK before his retirement.

Todd said he wants UK to stay on course with its current plan and believes in the plan he wrote nine years ago.

“Some say, ‘Wave the white flag on Top 20,'” Todd said. “That would be a mistake.”

UK’s standing in rankings like the U.S. News and World Report was an important topic. Todd said UK is “not about stats and rankings, but about bringing change in the state.”

Todd said he sees UK as a school of opportunity that has a duty to serve Kentucky’s rural and inner-city citizens.

Todd praised UK’s progress on diversity.

“I can see Patterson Plaza from my office and it’s wonderful when classes change,” Todd said. “It’s a visual view of diversity, and I’m proud of that accomplishment.”

He also praised the completed first part of Chandler Hospital’s massive expansion, UK being named the official Health Services Provider for the World Equestrian Games and the College of Agriculture’s work with the games from the beginning.

The school’s “War on Attrition,” led by Provost Kumble Subbaswammy, has also been a huge success, Todd said.

He singled out the individual accomplishments in the UK family. UK alumnus Bub Asman was in attendance. He won the Academy Award for Best Sound Editing for the film “Letters from Iwo Jima” and has worked on other films such as “Mystic River,” “Million Dollar Baby” and “Gran Torino.” Former UK track star Rondel Sorrillo, was also recognized for being an eight time All-American and the only Wildcat to ever win the NCAA Championship in the 200-meter dash.

The freshman class was acknowledged as being the most academically prepared in school history.

The Singletary Scholars, whose average ACT is 33 and GPA is 3.99, were also recognized.

“We make offers to get offers 25,” Todd said. “The yield was so much, we got 31.”

Todd said Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart has done great work with the athletic department.

“Every student-athlete has the opportunity to compete for championships,” Todd said.

In closing, Todd said when he is asked what he is most proud about UK, he answers “the change in attitude of the institution.”

“If you want to see a university make extra ordinary progress in the face of challenges, look in the mirror,” Todd said.