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A&S Momentum - Our Digital Imprint

Over the past two decades, information technology has revolutionized our world and our work, as small, fast, cheap and interconnected digital devices make previously unimagined innovations possible. What was once intractable and unthinkable is now commonplace and can be done in the palm of the hand. Computers and information technology now play an indispensable role in every aspect of our lives.

This is no less true in higher education. The transformation of knowledge into bits and bytes, the harnessing of computational power and the development of digital communication networks and devices that link every corner of the world affects every aspect of our mission at the University of Kentucky. Research across our university is being revolutionized by the ability to collect, produce, analyze, and collaborate around data on a scale never before possible. Digital technologies open new doors to the wealth of human knowledge in teaching, and new forms of publication and communication allow us to serve the Commonwealth and the nation as never before.

A revolution is well underway in the College of Arts and Sciences. Our faculty members are using the most advanced computer tools to ask the big research questions. We are mapping the genome of species, developing new molecules and compounds, exploring the origins of our universe, and developing models to predict earthquakes. We are critically examining cultures across the world and across time with tools never before available.

Our teachers are pioneering new pedagogical techniques to engage students in critical thinking and analysis. We are teaching classes in IT IQ to empower our students in this new age and our first-year residential college, A&S Wired, is pioneering the future of engaged learning in this digital age. Our College is using new digital communication tools to reach out across the state. Our Digital Distillery is helping to make Kentucky’s cultural heritage available to all.

The national media has a tendency to get focused on the latest new thing, be they MOOCs or on-line degrees, but the real story of higher education in the digital age is one of pervasive transformation. At A&S, we have built a new web portal to show off the breadth and depth of change. is a place to showcase the inspired and inspiring digital project across the college. Here you’ll find links to everything from Wired, our digitally connected living learning community, to the New Maps Collaboratory, which is exploring new ways to map ‘big data’ and user generated content. You can also find out more about the Hive, our information technology and creative support team and the cyber-infrastructure that they are building for the College. Please explore, contemplate, and contribute your thoughts on the digital revolution and our role in it.

Higher Ed and the Presidential Election

Writing in the final days leading up to the 2012 presidential election, I am struck both by the importance of higher education to the presidential contest and the deep engagement of our College faculty and students with the election. As our nation debates its future, it is no surprise the future of higher education has become a key issue. Our future depends on increasing access to college; affordability of a college education and the availability of student loans are thus essential. Funding for research is equally essential. Public research universities, including the University of Kentucky, are responsible for more than sixty percent of the nation’s academic research and educate over seventy percent of the scientists, engineers, doctors, and professionals that we produce in this country. Continued public investment in our basic and applied research is therefore essential to the health, prosperity, and technological advancement of our nation.

It is no small wonder than that our students have been deeply engaged in the electoral campaign. Professor Kathi Kern and I have had the great fortune to lead a group of 150 students, almost all first-year students on an in depth exploration of the election in a new course, “Currents: America through the Lens of the 2012 Election.” It has been a pleasure to see how politically involved our students are and to help them better understand for themselves the electoral system, candidates, campaigns, and implications of the 2012 election. Colleagues from political science, history, economics, philosophy, and gender and women studies have joined us in class, helping students to better understand how different disciplines approach politics. And two seasoned Congressional aids, Michael Higdon from Representative Hal Rogers’ office and Matt Dinkel from Representative Mike Doyle’s office, have met with our students via Skype over the course of the semester to provide insider’s views.

Across campus, A&S faculty and staff have been working to bring the election to campus. Professor Steven Voss, our elections expert in the Department of Political Science, has made himself available to students on multiple occasions. He has been joined by colleagues from other departments on many panels. The Center for English as a Second Language has organized events specifically for our international students so they could better understand the campaign and what is at stake. And Brandi Scalise, one of our most creative lecturers in Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Media, organized a panel discussion and debate watching party before the third debate.

We have no classes scheduled on Tuesday November 6, election-day, so that all members of the UK community can participate fully in the election. That night, however, the Departments of Political Science and History and the College of Arts and Sciences will host a party for the entire university community to celebrate American democracy and watch the returns in the King Alumni House from 6 pm to 11:30. We are all looking forward to the end of a long campaign!

A new semester and new beginnings

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting all of our entering A&S students during the University’s K Week events, wherein we welcomed our largest undergraduate class ever. The official numbers are not in yet, but the University was set to enroll as many as 4700 new first-year students, up from 4100 last year. The total number of A&S majors is also set to achieve an enrollment high. As the College teaches 85% of all UK Core and 60% of all undergraduate students credit hours we will see almost all these new first-year students in our courses this fall. Educating such a large number of students can be exhilarating. On this issue, I am continually impressed, at the innovation and dedication of the A&S faculty. Over the last several months many departments have taken on curricular revisions. For just a few examples I offer the following: the Department of Mathematics offered a calculus boot camp for incoming students two weeks before classes started. Dubbed FastTrack, first-year students came to campus in early August for an intensive, two-week, 8-hour a day calculus study, and by all measures this pilot program was a success with plans for further expansion next year. The Chemistry Department has completely reimaged their General Chemistry courses, which is the most populous course in the entire University. It functions as a gateway and linchpin course for all the STEM majors. The Department’s work on this will be felt throughout the campus. Both English and Anthropology have completely redesigned their undergraduate majors. A&S Wired, a large living-learning community for all UK first-year students, entered its second year, and added on a sophomore class component. Fall isn’t often associated with renewal, but for those of us in higher education, it’s the time of year for rebirth and new beginnings. I want to take this opportunity to invite you back to the campus, whether in person or virtually, to explore the College and its offerings, renew your relationship with a favorite faculty member or dive into a new topic of study. We are your college. Yours, Dean Mark Kornbluh

Welcome to your new home!


The start of the new academic year has arrived.  I am pleased to welcome our returning students back to UK’s College of Arts & Sciences.

And I am thrilled to have so many new students joining us.

The College of Arts and Sciences is the home of knowledge.  It is the home of Aristotle and Plato.  It is the home of Einstein and Galileo.  It is the home of DuBois and Skinner.  It is the home of Darwin and Goodall.   It is the foundation of all professions, it is home to the scholarship, written communication, and quantitative reasoning of all major discoveries.

And now it is also your home.  For the next four years, you have been granted the time and space to learn to live a life driven by the mind.  Spend the time wisely.  It is the biggest investment you will ever make.  Use it to explore some of the most pressing questions of our time, challenge major assumptions, adopt new opinions, investigate long-standing theories, discover new worlds, dream big dreams, and sharpen your critical thinking skill sets.  Use it to be tested and tasked, to define yourself for yourself and to begin your professional and personal life.

That is the essence of an A&S education.  By attaining an arts and sciences degree you will demonstrate that you know “how to think”; “how to analyze”; “how to reason”; “how to communicate”; “how to be ethical”.  Skills that are adaptable to any situation – personal or professional.  By majoring in an A&S discipline, you will demonstrate that you understand how one particular perspective views the world – whether it is through a historical lens, a biological framework, or an anthropological understanding.

This is an incredibly diverse, intellectually-rich space to explore the person you want to become.   For many of you it was a major decision for you to choose to come here.  You researched, visited, and contemplated your college choice.  But making the decision to come to UK is only one-part of determining whether that was a good decision.  Now, comes the part of enacting that decision to make it the best place for you.

The resources are here for you to take advantage of:

  • Go to the office hours of each of your professors some time during the first two weeks of classes, introduce yourself, and talk to them about their discipline.  Ask them whether they see it heading the future and what it is like being a physicist? Or sociologist? Or a writer?
  • Spend time with your advisor, ask them about interesting courses and co-curricular experiences.
  • Study.  Don’t look at it as a chore.  Experience it. 
  • Take part in co-curricular experiences.  There will never be another time when you will have the opportunity to spend your days thinking interesting thoughts, attending provoking lectures, watching novel films, participating in empowering discussions.

On Sunday, May 8, 2016, when you walk across Rupp Arena and I hand you your diploma, I hope you can tell me that this time wasn’t wasted.  That your mind was stretched and broadened, that you learned a new language, culture, religion, that you wrote a poem, you extracted chemicals, that you led a group.  I hope you can tell me that you lived a life driven by the mind.

Here’s to the next four years.

Mark Kornbluh
Dean, UK College of Arts & Sciences


Year-End letter From Dean to Faculty and Staff

Dear Friends,

As the 2011-12 academic year comes to a close let me thank you for all the incredible work, dedication and commitment you have exhibited throughout the year.  Without a doubt, our faculty and staff rival those at the most prestigious institutions in the country. 

Over the last year we have welcomed and educated a record-number of new students; we have successfully launched a new general education curriculum (UK Core) and a new residential college (Wired); we have made progress on shortening time-to-degree through our online and summer school initiative; we have greatly expanded our international efforts through faculty exchanges, short-courses, new education abroad programs, and our passport to the world initiative (Year of China); among many, many other successes. 

Our faculty and staff have been recognized by countless national organizations and agencies, as well as by the University community.  The following are just a handful of the many successes achieved this year:

As we look towards the future, there is no other way to state that the 2012-13 academic year will be a difficult one.  The ensuing budget cuts will be painful.  Over the last several weeks I have gathered the academic leadership of the College – the department chairs, program directors, and executive committee members – to begin to understand the scope of the issues in front of us.  These conversations will continue throughout the summer,  with our hope to have a College-wide discussion when school resumes in August.   At this point, we don’t have answers.  What I can promise is that we will address this problem collectively, lead by our shared academic values and shared academic governance.  In my mind, this is the most critical starting point. 

To this end, we have created an electronic way for everyone in the College to offer suggestions as well as evaluate ideas.  Click on the following link: and add your voice and ideas to helping us become more efficient and effective in the work we all do.

I am also heartened by the thought that in such times as these the liberal arts tradition of thought is never more useful and important.  Whatever path we carve for our colletive future, I know that it will have been developed out of a nuanced thought process based in humanistic values and understanding and rational inquiry and investigation.  Every year we read stories in the national media about employers preferring liberal arts graduates over the long-term because they are trained to be creative, problem solvers with breadth and depth, and able to see connections across discrete ideas and issues.  We are an entire college filled with such people.  Although the coming months will be difficult, with hard choices to be made as certain priorities are elevated over others, we will do it with our values stated clearly, with thoughtful discussion, and ultimately with an outcome that reaffirms who we are and what we want to become. 

I am immensely honored to be counted among you all as a colleague.  I will work hard for you this summer, and I deeply appreciate all that you have done this past year for the College.



Summer Sessions Are Just Around the Corner


Students - don’t forget to check out and register for A&S summer classes. A&S is offering nearly 200 courses both online and campus-based for summer 2012. These courses are designed for students who want to make progress toward a UK degree over the summer, gain extra credit hours, explore new topics, and have flexibility with busy summer schedules. With courses ranging from anthropology and chemistry to political science and statistics, A&S has something for everyone.

The courses will be offered in two summer sessions:

Summer Session I
4-week Session (May 8-June 5)
First 6-week session (May 8-June 19)

Summer Session II
8-week session (June 7-August 2)
Second 6-week session (June 21-August 2)

For more information about summer courses, visit or contact your academic advisor.

Enroll this summer and see where A&S summer courses can take you!

Distinguished Professor Lecture Series Tonight Features Ron Eller

I would like to remind everyone about the upcoming A&S Distinguished Professor Lecture on Thursday, April 12. This year’s lecture, “Seeking the Good Life in America: Lessons From the Appalachian Past,” will be given by Ronald Eller from the Department of History. The lecture will begin at 7:30pm at the W.T. Young Auditorium with a reception immediately following in the W.T. Young Gallery. 

Please join us in honoring our 2011-2012 Distinguished Professor Ron Eller.

Recently I sat down with Professor Eller to discuss his newest book, Uneven Ground: Appalachian Since 1945 and his ties to the Appalachian region. 



Mark Madness!

Greetings! UK basketball fever has hit campus and everyone is looking forward to the Final Four games. I was in China visiting Jilin University and Shanghai University and missed the first couple games of the NCAA tournament but managed to link my portable computer to my desktop in Lexington so I could watch them online. The computer kept me connected but for the Final Four games, I’m heading to NOLA to catch them live.

To get an idea of the excitement on campus, aside from the sea of blue and white shirts, check out a new UK Army ROTC video. They have their weekend set – how do you plan to cheer on the Cats?

Guess What? GIS is a Beneficial Tool for All


GIS (Geographic Information Services) is empowering new ways faculty can teach in their classrooms and the way students interact and learn. Nowhere is that more evident than in the Department of Geography. Jeremy Crampton and his class surveyed part of UK’s campus with a camera, 2-liter soda bottle, a balloon, rubber bands and string. Find out more about how a do-it-yourself project like this makes it easy to be an active participant in data collection.

Matt Wilson’s students are also putting GIS to use by working with community members and organizations. Ranging from health and cultural advocacy, food systems, open data, environmental issues, historical preservation – the students collaborate with people and places in the community to provide a needs assessment that GIS technologies can offer, whether it is web-based mapping tools, information that can help with grants, or just general GIS analysis. Listen to this podcast to find out more.

To view full stories on these interesting topics, check out these helpful links:

Students, Mid-semester Courses Can Give You A Few Extra Hours

Looking for some extra credit hours this semester? Don’t forget to check out our mid-semester, 2 credit-hour courses. This spring A&S is offering Passport to China, which is part of the larger Year of China programming, Community 101, Composing with Visuals, and the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

These classes are a great way to explore new topics and gain extra credit hours – for more information, contact your advisor.