Outreach is needed to attain top-20 goal

UK President Lee Todd’s State of the Campus address on Thursday highlighted the intense need for public support if UK’s Top 20 Business Plan is to succeed.

Todd will be starting the “See Blue” bus tour to travel the state in an attempt to gain the backing of Kentuckians for UK’s attempt to reach top-20 status, the Kernel reported on Sept. 14.

The president is right to focus on public outreach in this stage of the top-20 plan. UK’s success depends on the General Assembly’s financial backing — which, in turn, depends largely on public opinion.

Up to this point, UK has struggled to convince the general public that it will benefit from advances in UK’s status as a national research institute. Like the 2005 “Dream Tour” heralding the creation of the Top 20 Business Plan, the “See Blue” tour will directly engage the state’s population in a way that will demonstrate the relevance of UK to the state as a whole.

There is a disconnect common in the public understanding of UK. Often, citizens not directly affiliated with the university struggle to understand why their tax dollars should be used to fund UK. Ideally, however, as UK rises in national prominence, the research done on its behalf will greatly benefit the state in return.

UK should keep striving to offer more Kentuckians the chance to obtain a college degree, attract new jobs to the state and improve the overall quality of life for all state residents.

After all, Todd’s bus tour can only succeed if it manages to convince citizens that they have a stake in UK’s success — something that may be difficult to accomplish.