TEK: UK’s new program to prepare students for the workforce


Photo provided by TEK.

Owen Chesemore, Reporter

UK will begin offering students the chance to participate in a program called Transdisciplinary Educational Approaches to Advance Kentucky (TEK) in the fall of 2023, as a part of UK’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP). 

The purpose of TEK is to give UK students the chance to gain connections with Kentucky employers and instill them with leadership and communication skills to prepare students to engage in the workforce following graduation. 

These skills and experiences will prepare students to engage in the workforce following graduation. 

Dr. Robert DiPaola, who serves as a provost at UK, has contributed to developing UK’s QEP. 

“What (TEK) consisted of was building opportunities for students to learn the skills of team-building and getting teams together,” DiPaola said. 

“To give an opportunity to students to sit at a table with all these disciplines, they get a better sense of how to have impact on society,” he said. “They’ll get a better sense of what they need in their own educational programs to equip them to have the greatest impact.”

He said that the QEP plan contains many different components where UK students will be able to learn essential skills like how to manage a team and how to participate in a team with several disciplines.  

“When you look at the whole QEP plan, it has a number of different components where students will, early in the process, be able to learn the essential skills,” he said. “How do you manage a team? How do you become a participant in a team with multiple disciplines?”

According to DiPaola, students will also learn communication and critical thinking skills. Students will not only develop these skills through the QEP program but also in their classes. 

“It’s going to be built into some of the Gen Ed requirements, like UK 101 and other Gen Ed courses,” he said.

The TEK program will also offer 2 additional courses: TEK 200 and TEK 300. In these classes, students will have access to certain sections where, according to DiPaola, they will separate into teams and work on projects to solve problems facing Kentucky. 

DiPaola said the TEK program will also be connecting students with employers and workforce leaders. 

“We’re going to be drawing from leaders in Kentucky, our alumni base, and so forth … so it’s a networking opportunity for students as well,” he said. 

Additionally, the TEK program will bring in faculty from different disciplines. 

DiPaola said students could acquire mentorship opportunities with faculty members. 

According to UK’s website, the QEP is vital for UK’s accreditation for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

The website goes on to say that UK must be reaccredited from SACSCOC every 10 years because it affirms that UK provides academic excellence for all of its students.

DiPaola said that the process for receiving the accreditation is extensive. SACSCOC will evaluate 73 areas of focus called standards. 

SACSCOC goes through each of these 73 standards during their evaluation. The commission looks at how the university handles its finances to the education programs UK offers. 

DiPaola explained that one of these standards, standard 7.2, is the QEP. QEP resulted in the creation of the Presentation U service, which offers free peer tutoring. 

“Last year, we submit(ted) a full document over 600 pages, and it went through each of those 73 standards with all the details and the data from the university,” DiPaola said.

SACSCOC reviewed this document, provided feedback and came on site in March to evaluate UK on the 73 standards. A month before they arrived, UK submitted a document for the QEP, which was 63 pages, not including the appendices. 

According to DiPaola, the thoughts SACSCOC gave about the program were “really positive.” The commission determined that all of UK’S 73 standards, including the QEP, were in full compliance. 

The TEK program will be housed in a William T. Young Library space currently being renovated. 

“(TEK) really starts giving students to have an opportunity to think about what they’re most passionate about,” DiPaola said.

Students aren’t required to take both TEK 200 and TEK 300. They are only required to take as much as they are interested in, whether that be one of the classes or neither, according to DiPaola.

Any UK student is qualified to join the TEK program.

Any students who are interested in the TEK program or have any questions can receive more information by contacting the office through their email: [email protected].